2016 Broadcaster Rankings (TV): #30 – #21

Introduction and #31-32

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.

About a month ago, the present author began the process of reproducing that original crowdsourcing effort, facilitating a ballots for this site’s readers. This post represents the second installment of the corresponding results.

Below are the 30th- through 21st-ranked television 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 cast will appear in these pages Friday.

***

30. Philadelphia Phillies
Main Broadcasters: Tom McCarthy and Ben Davis/Matt Stairs.
Ratings (Charisma/Analysis/Overall): 2.3, 2.2, 2.2

Three Reader Comments
• “McCarthy routinely sounds more excited hawking WB Mason products than when the Phillies do something. Of course, the last couple of seasons, the Phillies are roughly as exciting as office supplies.”
• “Weekends with Schmidt are solid.”
• “RIP Harry Kalas.”

Notes
It might be difficult for those who’ve watched Phillies broadcasts in recent years to separate the quality of the club from the appeal of the broadcasters. Certainly, it must be difficult for the broadcasters themselves to muster enthusiasm for a poor team. In any case, if there’s a uniform criticism here, it regards McCarthy and the sort of “professional distance” he maintains, if that makes sense.

***

29. Atlanta Baseball Club
Main Broadcasters: Chip Caray and Joe Simpson
Ratings (Charisma/Analysis/Overall): 2.4, 2.1, 2.3

Three Reader Comments
• “In recent years I have noticed that Chip will at least investigate and discuss more advanced metrics, but Joe shows open derision and scorn. I’m not looking for a statistically heavy broadcast, but at the very least, the announcers could acknowledge the current state of baseball front offices.”
• “A couple of years ago… WAR was mentioned in a broadcast. Simpson dismissively said something along the lines of ‘that stat comes from FanGraphs, whatever that is.'”
• “I miss Boog.”

Notes
The results of this exercise reveal that FanGraphs readers can be entirely content with a broadcast that largely ignores advanced metrics. The nearly universal praise for Vin Scully reveals as much. What they don’t care for — and, it would seem, reasonably so — is broadcasters who openly mock advanced metrics or progressive front-office/on-field strategies, in general. The Atlanta team appears guilty of that; Simpson, in particular.

***

28. Cincinnati Reds
Main Broadcasters: Thom Brennaman and Chris Welsh
Ratings (Charisma/Analysis/Overall): 2.4, 2.4, 2.3

Three Reader Comments
• “Chris Welsh is a damn near perfect blend of an old school ballplayer who is totally open minded and into learning new things.”
• “The Brennamans work in vitriol and acid the way some artists specialize in oils or acrylics.”
• “Thom Brennaman… displayed peak form last year during the Reds’ umpteenth rain delay with a rant about how the time has come for MLB to seriously consider mandating 30 domed stadiums.”

Notes
Whether founded or not, respondents for the Atlanta broadcast (above) suspected that Chip Caray might not hold his current job were he not the son (and grandson) of an established major-league broadcaster. Readers expressed similar suspicions regarding Thom Brennaman, whose father Marty is the Reds’ radio voice. It should be noted: a number of readers praise Welsh for his capacity to marry playing experience and more progressive baseball concepts.

***

27. Colorado Rockies
Main Broadcasters: Drew Goodman and Jeff Huson
Ratings (Charisma/Analysis/Overall): 2.5, 2.2, 2.4

Three Reader Comments
• “[The] Rockies have always hired announcers who treat fans like the Rockies are perpetually an expansion team fanbase, which always seemed nuts since everyone here moved here from places with baseball.”
• “Drew Goodman can be a strong broadcaster when he engages with the game, but he has a tendency to lose focus. (I could imagine this may have something to do with 15 years of watching the Rockies play).”
• “Jenny [Cavnar] is fantastic, should be in booth with [Ryan Spilborghs] and Drew.”

Notes
More than with other broadcasts, respondents to the Rockies’ ballot drew particular attention to the actual production of the telecast, suggesting that it’s burdened by the integration of tweets and promotional offers and the like. There is some praise here for Ryan Spilborghs, who seems to appear with some frequency.

***

26. Washington Nationals
Main Broadcasters: Bob Carpenter and F.P. Santangelo
Ratings (Charisma/Analysis/Overall): 2.6, 2.3, 2.5

Three Reader Comments
• “Great couple of guys, obviously like each other and work well together, but tend to lean a little too heavily on some… stock phrases.”
• “Santangelo is best when giving the player perspective and granular nuts and bolts analysis.”
• “Bob Carpenter makes a nice scorebook, I’ll give him that.”

Notes
It’s possible to love one’s spouse in a profound and vulnerable way and yet grow tired of his or her company after three consecutive hours of it. So imagine how respondents might feel about a broadcast team for whom they do not possess a deep and abiding affection but whose work they nevertheless consume for three hours at a time, 162 days a year. The point is: many of the comments submitted by readers are merely fonts of vitriol and not included here. But the frustration is logical, at some level.

***

25. Cleveland Baseball Club
Main Broadcasters: Matt Underwood and Rick Manning
Ratings (Charisma/Analysis/Overall): 2.6, 2.5, 2.6

Three Reader Comments
• “Manning [made an]… impassioned plea on Opening Day 2016 to legalize the balk. Yeah, I don’t know either. It was weird.”
• “I met [studio host] Al Pawlowski once like 10 years ago, and we talked about how he called a Sumo Tournament for ESPN2.”
• “Not much to say about them.”

Notes
It’s quite possible that Cleveland’s television broadcasters suffer a bit from having to compete for the market’s affections with radio voice Tom Hamilton, generally beloved by the people. There’s no real uniform complaint among FanGraphs readers, but rather just a collection of minor criticisms.

***

24. St. Louis Cardinals
Main Broadcasters: Dan McLaughlin and Al Hrabosky
Ratings (Charisma/Analysis/Overall): 3.0, 2.5, 2.7

Three Reader Comments
• “The Cardinals TV announcers, particularly McLaughlin, inspired me to Google ‘ham-fisted sarcasm’ merely to see if there exists a term specific to what I was enduring. Spoiler alert: there is not.”
• “Mostly filling this out based off complaints my Dad has with the STL broadcast.”
• “cubs suck” [sic]

Notes
As was the case last time, more than one respondent in this series of balloting suspected that Al Hrabosky avails himself of a hard beverage during the course of his broadcasting duties. It wouldn’t be responsible for the present author to actually level a charge along those lines. That said, it’s wholly possible for one to seem drunk without actually drinking.

***

23. Minnesota Twins
Main Broadcasters: Dick Bremer and Bert Blyleven
Ratings (Charisma/Analysis/Overall): 3.1, 2.2, 2.8

Three Reader Comments
• “In recent years, Bremer has mixed in more advanced statistics, but with a noticeable disdain for them.”
• “[T]hey are the broadcast embodiment of the Twins baseball organization.”
• “Bert can be frustrating because, although he is Dutch, he doesn’t speak with an accent.”

Notes
In the introduction to these rankings, the author noted that “television and radio networks responsible for broadcasting the pastime likely have particular ideas about the criteria which constitute a successful broadcast. Those criteria are very possibly not the ones most relevant to a FanGraphs reader’s experience of the game.” Those comments appear to be relevant here. Dick Bremer and Bert Blyleven each represent, in his own way, an important part of Minnesota’s regional identity. Their reluctance to integrate progressive baseball ideas into a broadcast is not what’s going to make or break their appeal to the public.

***

22. Miami Marlins
Main Broadcasters: Rich Waltz and Eduardo Perez
Ratings (Charisma/Analysis/Overall): 2.9, 2.6, 2.8

One Reader Comment
• “I have neither heard nor seen the Marlins broadcast crew.”

Notes
Long-time color analyst Tommy Hutton was dismissed by the club this offseason for allegations of excessive negativity, which Hutton claimed were mere expressions of honesty. Given the organization’s behavior and performance in recent years, it would seem honesty might necessarily produce negativity. In any case, there’s a new team now that also includes Al Leiter and Preston Wilson. Unsurprisingly, there were relatively few ballots submitted here.

***

21. New York Yankees
Main Broadcasters: Michael Kay and Five Whole Other Guys
Ratings (Charisma/Analysis/Overall): 2.8, 2.9, 2.8

Three Reader Comments
• [Regarding Michael Kay] “It’s like listening to three hours of an auctioneer trying to inspire higher bids.”
• “More David Cone!”
• “It’s complicated.”

Notes
Certain respondents praise the YES Network’s rotating cast, suggesting that it keeps the commentary relatively fresh. Others would prefer an established pair or threesome with whom it might be possible to develop a deeper relationship. Both points of view seem to possess merit. And also not-merit, as well. David Cone is generally praised for his efforts to introduce advanced metrics to the broadcast.





Carson Cistulli has published a book of aphorisms called Spirited Ejaculations of a New Enthusiast.

134 Comments
Oldest
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
wjylaw
6 years ago

As a Tigers fan, I weep for those of you who have already had your broadcast teams listed. I can’t believe I live in a world, where Rod Allen is somehow “better/not worse” than this many other broadcasters. You have my deepest sympathy.

Turbo Trevor
6 years ago
Reply to  wjylaw

Same, but Rangers for me.

bobbob
6 years ago
Reply to  wjylaw

it’s either love or hate with Rod. personally, I think he’s great. I don’t need my broadcaster talking numbers, just keep me entertained. When they put Gibby in there, you realize how much better Rod is…

cabreraguy
6 years ago
Reply to  wjylaw

Rod is divisive. personally, I like him

shadraaqmember
6 years ago
Reply to  wjylaw

Same with Athletics. Kuiper and Fosse have apparently been shoved down our throats so long we are numb to the inanity.

cookccraig
6 years ago
Reply to  shadraaq

I’m entirely with you about the A’s. I’m not a Giants fan, but I really enjoy listening to them on the radio because of the announcers, who I think have made me a more knowledgeable baseball fan. I miss Bill King.