2016 Broadcaster Rankings (Radio): #10 – #1 by Carson Cistulli June 9, 2016 Nos. #30 – #21 Nos. #20 – #11 Roughly four years ago now, the present author facilitated a crowdsourcing project designed to place a “grade” on each of the league’s television and radio broadcast teams. The results weren’t intended to represent the objective quality or skill of the relevant announcers, but rather to provide a clue as to which broadcast teams are likely to appeal most (or least) to the readers of this site. The results of that original exercise have been useful as a complement to the dumb NERD scores published by the author in these pages. Four years later, however, they’ve become much less useful. In the meantime, a number of the broadcast teams cited in that original effort have changed personnel. It’s possible that the tastes of this site’s readers have changed, also. Recently, the author published an updated version of the television rankings according to the site’s readership. This week: the results of that same exercise, but for radio broadcasts. Below are the 10th- through 1st-ranked radio-broadcast teams, per the FanGraphs readership. But first, three notes: Teams are ranked in ascending order of Overall rating. Overall ratings are not merely averages of Charisma and Analysis. The author has attempted to choose reader comments that are either (a) illustrative of the team’s place in the rankings or (b) conspicuously amusing. A complete table of ratings will appear in these pages on Friday, unless they don’t appear then. *** 10. Oakland Athletics Main Broadcasters: Ken Korach and Vince Cotroneo Ratings (Charisma/Analysis/Overall): 3.8, 3.7, 4.1 Representative Reader Comment “Ken Korach has a beautiful radio voice and a great meal [sic] for conveying the emotion of a big moment.” Notes There isn’t much in the way of specific praise among readers for Korach and Cotroneo — not the sort, at least, which clearly separates them from the teams which appear either a few places above or below this one. Generally, respondents cite Korach’s voice and cadence as the main attraction. Which, this is sufficient to render a broadcast enjoyable, certainly. *** 9. Chicago Cubs Main Broadcasters: Pat Hughes and Ron Coomer Ratings (Charisma/Analysis/Overall): 4.3, 3.6, 4.2 Representative Reader Comment “Pat is great. Ron could charitably be described as a ‘weenie.'” Notes Praise for Pat Hughes is almost uniform among respondents, who suggest he possesses nearly every strength a broadcaster could possess: narrative skills, pleasant vocal timbre, affability, sense of humor, and understanding of club history. Praise for Coomer isn’t as gushing, although more than one reader suggests that having to contend with the memory of Ron Santo might be partly the cause for that. *** 8. Los Angeles Dodgers Main Broadcasters: Charley Steiner and Rick Monday (and Vin Scully) Ratings (Charisma/Analysis/Overall): 4.2, 3.9, 4.2 Representative Reader Comment [On giving a grade of 5] “Because of Scully’s three innings.” Notes The reader comment here is indicative of a dilemma experienced by a number of readers, it seems, when attempting to assign a score to the Dodgers’ radio broadcast. Vin Scully, of course, provides simultaneous commentary both for television and radio during the first three innings of home games. The affection for Scully is near universal, as suggested by his place atop the television-broadcast rankings. The affection for Steiner and Monday is less universal. Still present, but not in the same volume. How one weights Scully versus Steiner and Monday certainly informs one’s opinion about Dodgers radio. And that marks the end of this paragraph. *** 7. Detroit Tigers Main Broadcasters: Dan Dickerson and Jim Price Ratings (Charisma/Analysis/Overall): 4.2, 4.1, 4.3 Representative Reader Comment “Dickerson is the rare broadcaster [who] would be equally at home in both the booths of the 20th century and [in] whatever hovel the writers of Fangraphs currently reside.” Notes As the respondent here notes, Dickerson’s an interesting — and perhaps unqiue — case among broadcasters. One the one hand, he possesses a voice and cadence that compel one to imagine even a modern game being played in sepia tones. On the other, he makes frequent references to — if not advanced stats, specifically — then at least the concepts (batted-ball luck, fielding-independent pitching) on which those stats are based. *** 6. Philadelphia Phillies Main Broadcasters: Scott Franzke and Larry Andersen Ratings (Charisma/Analysis/Overall): 4.6, 3.7, 4.5 Representative Reader Comment “[T]he duo’s banter leans heavily on him being old rather than harping about the young. Franzke is an excellent pbp man. He rarely if ever misnames players or mispronounces their names, is willing to dabble in advanced stats, and rises to meet an iconic moment rather than trying to create it from the mundane.” Notes There’s a great deal of affection among respondents for Franzke and Andersen. Furthermore, the crowd’s characterizations of the pair are almost uniform: Franzke is more precise and meticulous, while Andersen tends (it seems) towards the irreverent. Their chemistry is a great strength, according to readers. Less of a strength is their analytical work, which — and this applies more directly to the former player Andersen — can lean a bit on received wisdom and flights of masculine display behavior (in particular, where throwing at batters is concerned). *** 5. Washington Nationals Main Broadcasters: Charlie Slowes and Dave Jageler Ratings (Charisma/Analysis/Overall): 4.3, 4.3, 4.5 Representative Reader Comment “After Dave spells the name of an opponent like Adeiny Hechavarria, Charlie rings a little bell.” Notes This is roughly the place in the rankings where respondents begin making comments to the effect that “If this team isn’t ranked first overall, then this whole exercise is futile.” What those readers haved failed to consider, of course, is that the exercise is futile anyway. One respondent suggests that Slowes and Jageler are “better than the sum of the parts” — which is both (a) probably a function of chemistry and, it would seem, (b) a property shared by most of the broadcast teams occupying these top five or six slots. *** 4. Milwaukee Brewers Main Broadcasters: Bob Uecker and Jeff Levering Ratings (Charisma/Analysis/Overall): 4.9, 3.4, 4.6 Representative Reader Comment “Ueck is a national treasure and a monument should be erected in our nation’s capital in his honor. Or perhaps someone’s backyard.” Notes In direct contradiction of the author’s statement regarding chemistry just above here, one finds that the Brewers broadcast isn’t necessarily better than the sum of its parts — but only because one of its parts is Bob Uecker, a man whose affection for sausage is surpassed only by his capacity to compose spontaneous eulogies characterizing that affection. Levering’s main responsibility — as has been Joe Block’s and Pat Hughes’s and Jim Powell’s and Cory Provus’s responsibility in the past — is to serve as a competent straight man. And that role pays dividends, as well: Uecker’s four most recent full-time partners are all employed as broadcasters for other major-league clubs. *** 3. New York Mets Main Broadcasters: Howie Rose and Josh Lewin Ratings (Charisma/Analysis/Overall): 4.6, 4.3, 4.6 Representative Reader Comment “A delightfully nerdy experience filled with Simpsons and Seinfeld references and bad puns. Lewin is sabermetrically inclined and Howie has an incredible knowledge of Mets history and folklore and baseball as a whole.” Notes The Mets’ television crew, while technically ranked third among the league’s 32 distinct broadcast teams by FanGraphs readers, more or less shared the top tier of those rankings with Duane Kuiper and Mike Krukow in San Francisco and Vin Scully in Los Angeles. The same is basically true for Howie Rose and Josh Lewin on the radio side. They’re not technically ranked first overall, but the difference between the readership’s assessment of their presentation compared to those offered by the next two teams — it’s mostly inconsequential. *** 2. San Francisco Giants Main Broadcasters: Jon Miller and Dave Flemming Ratings (Charisma/Analysis/Overall): 4.6, 4.3, 4.7 Representative Reader Comment “Best in the business!” Notes Once again, a strangely high percentage of respondents refer to a Giants broadcast — in this case, the radio version — as the “best in the business.” The origin of this linguistic oddity among the people of the Bay Area remains obscure. Less obscure is the unfettered delight present in the clip below — also invoked by a number of respondents — which exhibits Jon Miller’s dexterity and sense of humor in one fell swoop. *** 1. Texas Rangers Main Broadcasters: Eric Nadel and Matt Hicks Ratings (Charisma/Analysis/Overall): 4.5, 4.5, 4.7 Representative Reader Comment “Only got a 4 on analysis because I don’t know what Jared is talking about sometimes with his WARS and his WIPS and KRLDs.” Notes It’s not particularly surprising to find the Texas radio team well acquitted here: they were ranked third by FanGraphs readers when this exercise was last conducted, in 2012. Eric Nadel, in particular — who has shared his thoughts and his feelings on FanGraphs Audio — received considerable praise during the first edition of this crowdsourcing project. He still does receive considerable praise. Who else receives praise now is Jared Sandler. Sandler appears not only to host the broadcast’s pre- and post-game shows but also to provide commentary during various contests, as well, exhibiting some facility with advanced stats in the process.