This story is part of ESPN The Magazine's September 29 Fansourced Issue. Subscribe today!
Last year's ranking: 22
Title track: 46
Fan relations: 36
Stadium experience: 34
Bang for the buck: 52
The Tigers are among the best-run franchises in sports but have fallen short in October in recent years (title track down 14 spots). That could all change this year. They had the second-best odds to win the World Series (according to Bovada) before landing David Price in a blockbuster three-team trade. What could hold them back? The inexperience of first-year manager Brad Ausmus, who had the unenviable task of replacing that lovable, chain-smoking curmudgeon Jim Leyland (coaching down 33 spots). Nevertheless, Detroit is again a World Series contender, even if it doesn't win the division. The truth is, there are a lot of managers who could do well with a roster (ninth among MLB teams in the players category) that includes the past three AL MVPs and -- after the Price deal -- the past three AL Cy Young winners.
As for ownership, it's abundantly clear that fans adore Mike Ilitch (ranked as the best in baseball), who has shown he is willing to do whatever it takes to win (fourth-highest payroll in MLB). And what's not to love about an affordable ($28.22 average ticket), winning team that plays in a beautiful ballpark? Comerica Park features a fountain that produces a "liquid fireworks" display with music and lights synchronized to home runs and other big plays. There is also a carousel featuring 30 hand-painted tigers and a 50-foot Ferris wheel with cars shaped like baseballs. All of it pretty remarkable for an otherwise bankrupt city.