With the end of another baseball season and a sad, cold winter staring us in the face, the hour has come: It's time for our tri-annual Tortured Fan Base Rankings. I do this every year for the NBA, the NFL and, now, Major League Baseball. This is the third annual MLB rankings. Here are the rankings from 2013 and 2014. A recap of the process, if you're not familiar with it already:

It's a ranking of every team's fan base, from most to least spoiled. The goal is to figure which one deserves winning a championship the most: who you, as a disinterested party, should be cheering for next year. Lots of factors are involved: fan loyalty, historical success, particularly painful eras, near-miss title chances, current roster, any ineffable notion that just occurs to me while I'm putting this list together.

I've done my best to take into account reader comments, changes in circumstances over the last year, specious assessments from the past and everything else in this year's rankings, but this is an ongoing process, a march toward perfect. If there's any major change I've made from last year's rankings, it's not to overrate a recent-ish title. A lot can go wrong between now and then. Anything you don't like or believe I have wrong, email me at leitch@sportsonearth.com.

So here we go:

30. Kansas City Royals

Last title: 2015
World Series appearances: 4
Titles: 2
Last year's ranking: 7

When you win the championship, no matter what you've been through in the past, you automatically drop to No. 30 in these rankings. Do these people look tortured to you?

29. San Francisco Giants

Last title: 2014
World Series appearances: 20
Championships: 8
Last year's ranking: 30

The Giants, in the last six seasons, have won more World Series than the Cubs, the Phillies, the Indians, the Mets, the Royals and 12 other MLB teams. Still nobody seems to hate them outside of Dodgers fans. If they keep their every-other-year business going in 2016, that might finally change.

28. St. Louis Cardinals

Last title: 2011
World Series appearances: 19
Championships: 11
Last year's ranking: 28

The Cardinals took a step backward this year, failing to make the NLCS for the first time since 2010. That we are talking about the Cards taking a step backward in a year that they became the first team to win 100 games since the 2011 Phillies is a sign of just how good St. Louis fans have it.

27. New York Yankees

Last title: 2009
World Series appearances: 40
Championships: 27
Last year's ranking: 27

The worrisome aspect of the Yankees' first -- albeit brief -- postseason appearance since 2012 is that it might be their last one for a while. Expecting Mark Teixeira and Alex Rodriguez, the keys to the 2015 success, to stay as healthy next year as they were this year is asking quite a bit. One suspects you are shedding few tears for them.

26. Boston Red Sox

Last title: 2013
World Series appearances: 12
Championships: 8
Last year's ranking: 29

All told, the Red Sox are probably right where they want to be. Wearing enough championship rings (three in the last 11 years, to remind) but having struggled enough of late (two last-place finishes in a row) to make them feel somehow aggrieved. Right in the sweet spot. All that's missing now is a 2016 World Series appearance so they can add the "no one believed in us" cherry to that sundae.

25. Miami Marlins

Last title: 2003
World Series appearances: 2
Championships: 2
Last year's ranking: 24

Around where they were last year. They gain ground because they didn't get to watch Giancarlo Stanton nearly as much as we all would have liked, but they lose ground because of Marlins Man. I know that Marlins Man has become a fan favorite to some, but for a supposedly selfless guy, he sure does love to make sure he (and those hideous colors) get on television as much as humanly possible. But, you know, modestly. We have no problem with someone spending a bunch of money for the best seats at the biggest baseball games. But we are rapidly approaching the point where this feels like it's less about the baseball and more about Marlins Man.

Ichiro
Marlins fans got to watch Ichiro pitch this season, so that was something. (Getty Images)

24. Philadelphia Phillies

Last title: 2008
World Series appearances: 7
Championships: 2
Last year's ranking: 25


The Phillies essentially hold steady in these rankings, despite another dreadful season, for one solid reason: They, at last, appear to be moving in the right direction. The Cole Hamels trade turned out perfectly for them, they have new leadership and, quietly, their farm system is starting to pump out talent. This team should be just good enough to break their fans' hearts in about five years.

23. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

Last title: 2002
World Series appearances: 1
Titles: 1
Last year's ranking: 26

This is going to get worse before it gets better. The Angels are becoming top heavy, expensive and old. If it weren't for Mike Trout -- and hey, Mike Trout! -- this would be a last place team in the AL West. If they don't figure out a way to get more help, they might be that, anyway. If the Angels can't make any more playoff appearances before Trout becomes a free agent in 2020, that would be one of the most monumental wastes in baseball history.

22. Arizona Diamondbacks

Last title: 2001
World Series appearances: 1
Titles: 1
Last year's ranking: 22

The Diamondbacks are showing a little more pluck and verve in the Tony La Russa era, and any fan base that gets to watch Paul Goldschmidt every night isn't too tortured. But it can't be fun to cringe every time Dave Stewart says something weird again, and that bizarre, budget-conscious Touki Touissant trade looked bad then and looks worse now.

21. Minnesota Twins

Last title: 1991
World Series appearances: 6
Titles: 3
Last year's ranking: 19

The Twins took a step forward this season -- seriously, these guys were in contention for an AL Wild Card spot up until the final week of the season -- and the future looks bright. It's probably time for them to make that next leap up and get themselves a win in a playoff game; they don't have one yet at Target Field.

20. Chicago White Sox

Last title: 2005
World Series appearances: 5
Titles: 3
Last year's ranking: 22

The White Sox, a preseason AL Central favorite, fell on their faces this year, and experts won't be nearly as high on them next year. (Of course, everyone was down on the Royals, too.) It's a tough time to be a White Sox fan, particularly with what the Cubs are doing on the North Side. Still: The White Sox have won a World Series in the last 10 years, and no one else remaining on this list has won one in the last 20.

19. Colorado Rockies

Last title: Never
World Series appearances: 1
Last year's ranking: 20

They will once again be one of the worst teams in baseball, and I always feel like they should be higher on this list than they are. But every year I do these rankings, I get tons of emails from fans of teams arguing that I've underrated the pain their particular team has caused them. I never get these from Rockies fans. Like, ever. Maybe it's not as hard as I think it is?

18. Tampa Bay Rays

Last title: Never
World Series appearances: 1
Last year's ranking: 18

They stay steady this year, but it's worth noting it might get a little better in the next decade: A huge vote on Tuesday went in their favor, and they might be able to finally explore stadium spots in Tampa rather than their hideaway in St. Pete. Unless you live just down the street from the Trop, this is undeniable good news for the Rays and their fans. Plus: The team is still pretty good, somehow.

17. San Diego Padres

Last title: Never
World Series appearances: 2
Last year's ranking: 21

As I said last year, the Padres should probably be higher on this list, except their fans never seem too upset about anything in a fashion similar to the Rockies. But if anything will sour their spirits, it's the way last season went down. It's one thing to have your team be bad for a while. It's quite another to have an offseason full of hope and activity … and actually end up worse than you were before. The Padres now have the third-longest postseason drought in MLB, by the way.

16. Toronto Blue Jays

Last title: 1993
World Series appearances: 2
Titles: 2
Last year's ranking: 14

The Blue Jays drop a couple of spots after their breakthrough season and the ending of the 23-year postseason drought, but getting this close and still falling short -- in a season where your team when all-in -- is going to have long-term psychological consequences, I bet. They might have one more shot at this in 2016 before it starts getting ugly. They should probably try to find some pitching. (Also: Please stop throwing things on the field.) Still, no team other than maybe the Royals had a moment as instantly iconic as the Jays did this year, with this:

15. Atlanta Braves

Last title: 1995
World Series appearances: 9
Titles: 3
Last year's ranking: 15


The Braves added a new wrinkle this year: A total bottoming out. The Braves usually have great regular seasons and crap out in the playoffs, but now they're not even doing that. It is still astounding that they only one won World Series in the past 20 years. Saying goodbye to Turner Field for a new suburban stadium on the backs of public dollars will not earn them much goodwill around these parts.

14. Washington Nationals

Last title: Never
World Series appearances: None
Last year's ranking: 17

That did not go well! The Nationals were supposed to be a 100-win team: They ended up imploding, with incessant in-fighting, a fired manager and chaos all around. Dusty Baker seems like the type of manager who might settle all this down, but he also is the type of manager whose face is almost synonymous with postseason failure at this point, fairly or not. The way the Nats handled his hiring was worrisome, too. What is it in Washington that causes such constant front-office madness?

13. Houston Astros

Last title: Never
World Series appearances: 1
Last year's ranking: 14

The Astros are looking up. This year's playoff appearance was probably a year early, and they were two innings away from knocking out the eventual champion Royals in the ALDS. If you stuck with the Astros during that wretched period earlier this decade -- and it is perfectly understandable if you did not -- you are about to be rewarded.

12. Los Angeles Dodgers

Last title: 1988
World Series appearances: 18
Titles: 6
Last year's ranking: 13

If they didn't have the highest payroll in baseball -- the highest in baseball history -- you could almost claim they should be higher. No matter what the Dodgers do, even when they have a pitching staff and a roster like they did this year, they can't ever quite seem to break through. They are looking at nearly 30 years between World Series appearances, and that's absurd for a franchise as storied as the Dodgers, with all their resources. They've got a terrific management team in place and all the money in the world. It's time, right?

11. Cincinnati Reds

Last title: 1990
World Series appearances: 9
Titles: 5
Last year's ranking: 16

A big leap forward for the Reds in the rankings, who finally admitted (sort of) that it was time to make some big changes this year. They traded away some key pieces but kept some others, including Aroldis Chapman, for some reason. Joey Votto had a career year, and not only was it wasted, most people didn't even notice it, or appreciate it. In this division, even with the new management situation, it's going to be a long, long road back. At least you get to see more Pete Rose on your television?

10. Oakland A's

Last title: 1989
World Series appearances: 14
Titles: 9
Last year's ranking: 9

This year was particularly frustrating for A's fans: They lost an absurd number of one-run games, and talent-wise, they should have been a .500 team, or better. This year should be fascinating: Do they make a run, or do they start over, again, and trade, say, Sonny Gray? (Probably not.)

9. New York Mets

Last title: 1986
World Series appearances: 5
Titles: 2
Last year's ranking: 5

Hey, hey! I know Mets fans are a little bummed with how that World Series turned out, but come on: You made the World Series! How about that? We'll see what direction the Mets go moving forward, and they'll be replaying those Daniel Murphy and Lucas Duda errors in their minds forever, but let's remember the forest and the trees here: The Mets just made the World Series. That is a massive success, no matter how it ultimately turned out. Be happier!

8. Detroit Tigers

Last title: 1984
World Series appearances: 11
Titles: 4
Last year's ranking: 11

And this is when it all falls apart. The decision to trade David Price at the deadline, albeit a prudent one, signaled the sad truth: This is the end of the run for the Tigers. Detroit has sold out and mortgaged the future in recent years to win that elusive World Series, and now that it appears it's not going to happen any time soon, the future is here. This is going to get worse before it gets better. I'm sorry, Tigers fans. You deserve better.

Tigers
The Tigers need to get younger and less expensive. (Getty Images)

7. Texas Rangers

Last title: Never
World Series appearances: 2
Last year's ranking: 8


The Rangers got hot at the end of the year and somehow won that division, sort of out of nowhere. Next year, they get to put Yu Darvish and Hamels at the top of the rotation. What happened to them in 2010 and especially 2011 is almost too cruel to put into words. But they're making another run at it a little faster than anyone might have thought 16 months ago.

6. Baltimore Orioles

Last title: 1983
World Series appearances: 6
Titles: 3
Last year's ranking: 6

Another franchise whose window might have shut. Almost the entire Orioles team becomes free agents this season, and that's a ton of holes to fill for a team that was just hanging on. For all the talk about the Mets and the Royals and how long it had been since they had been on top, the Orioles have been title-less for even longer. Cal Ripken was 22 years old when they last won a championship. It might be a long road back now that this chance has passed them by.

5. Seattle Mariners

Last title: None
World Series appearances: None
Last year's ranking: 11

The biggest jumper in the rankings, and a team I can never quite get right on this list. (They were No. 3 in 2013, and No. 11 in 2014.) Two key factors keep them in the top five for me: They've never been to a World Series (ever!), and they now, because of the Blue Jays' division title this year, have the second-longest postseason drought in North American professional sports (behind the Buffalo Bills). Poor Felix Hernandez.

4. Milwaukee Brewers

Last title: Never
World Series appearances: 1
Last year's ranking: 3

The Brewers didn't do anything to drop a spot as much as they were passed by the No. 3 team. But make no mistake: It's rough to be a Brewers fan right now. The NL Central has three powerhouses up top, and the Brewers have a long, long way back; you could see Jonathan Lucroy gone this year, and perhaps even Ryan Braun. All told, 2011 was supposed to be the year for the Brewers. After Prince Fielder left, that young core that only comes along once a generation was split, never to be unified again. Despite it all, the Brewers were still in the top half of baseball in attendance, at No. 13. Brewers fans are the best.

3. Cleveland Indians

Last title: 1948
World Series appearances: 5
Titles: 2
Last year's ranking: 4


The most tortured American League team -- the top two teams, and three of the top four, are both in the NL Central -- was picked to win the World Series by Sports Illustrated and Grantland's Jonah Keri. It didn't turn out that way. Still, the Indians, like the top three teams on this list, will be good again next year. We're all so entranced by the Cubs, but the Indians have suffered almost as long, and even have some movies about it.

2. Pittsburgh Pirates

Last title: 1979
World Series appearances: 7
Titles: 5
Last year's ranking: 2

Typical Pirates. They finally have their playoff breakthrough after decades in the wilderness, and it happens as the exact time that the Wild Card Game happens. The Pirates have hosted three consecutive NL Wild Card Games … and have lost the last two to pitchers who happened to be untouchable at that particular time (Madison Bumgarner in 2014 and Jake Arrieta in 2015). This has been the best Pirates run in nearly 40 years, but the current playoff system has served to torture exclusively them. And the division is getting tougher, not easier; they'll be lucky to get to host a playoff game anytime soon.

1. Chicago Cubs

Last title: 1908
World Series: 10
Titles: 2
Last year's ranking: 1

While 2015 was an amazing season, know this for certain: It'll stop getting cute real fast. Now that the Cubs have broken through -- and have beaten the hated Cardinals in a postseason series -- nothing but a World Series will be acceptable, starting immediately. ESPN has them No. 1 in the 2016 Power Rankings. They'll be on the cover of every preseason magazine. They will be the story in baseball next season. Now they have to go out and actually do it. As just about every other team on this list can tell you -- and as Cubs fans know better than anyone else -- that is the hardest thing to do in the game. Good luck, Cubs. Everyone's now staring at you.

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Email me at leitch@sportsonearth.com; follow me @williamfleitch; or just shout out your window real loud, I'll hear you. Point is, let's talk.