Broadcaster Crowdsourcing Results, Part 1: 30-21

Last month, we at FanGraphs put out a call for broadcaster ratings. The votes are now all in, and over the following days, we’ll be releasing a compilation of those rankings, as well as selected commentary from each team’s responses. A similar survey of radio broadcasts will follow early next year, and a final summation at some point after that.

As a refresher, our survey asked for scores in four areas. If you’d like a thorough explanation of them, you can read the introductory article, but I’ll also recap them briefly here before starting off with the bottom third of the league.

The “Analysis” score covers the frequency and quality of a broadcast team’s discussion of baseball. This isn’t limited to statistical analysis, and many of the booths that scored best excelled at explaining pitching mechanics. This score represents how much viewers feel they learn about baseball by watching.

“Charisma” covers the amount of enjoyment voters derive from listening to the announcers fill space, which takes on many forms. The booths that scored best on charisma varied wildly, from former players recounting stories of their glory days to unintentional comedy and playful banter between long-term broadcast partners.

“Coherence” focuses on play-by-play, but it also covers how well broadcasters stay in tune with the game. The most coherent broadcasts strike a balance between telling stories and informing viewers of the current state of the game. That’s a tough balance to strike, and many broadcasts that scored well on charisma did worse in terms of coherence.

Lastly, an overall score simply answers the question: on a scale from 1-10, how much do you enjoy this broadcast? It’s not an average of the other scores or anything other than how the broadcast makes you feel overall. It also covers anything else: graphics, use of replay, and any other features that can affect overall enjoyment.

One note: the comments I’m presenting alongside each team’s ratings have been lightly edited for clarity and aren’t meant to be exhaustive. The ratings do a better job of conveying the overall reader view of each broadcast team, but I’ve highlighted what each fanbase found to be the high points of their television crew so that prospective viewers can go in with an idea of what to expect. They will hopefully provide extra information without detracting from the ratings. Without further ado, let’s get started.

30. Detroit Tigers

Detroit Tigers TV Broadcast Ratings
Team Analysis Charisma Coherence Overall
Detroit Tigers 4.3 3.2 4.0 3.5

Selected Comments

  • Like the broadcast much better when Kirk Gibson is on there.
  • The coverage can get rather stodgy when the game itself drags.
  • Morris is the best and is starting to lean more into analytics. Gibson has inconsistent presentation. Dan Dickerson who does the radio broadcast is by far the best we have.

29. Colorado Rockies

Colorado Rockies TV Broadcast Ratings
Team Analysis Charisma Coherence Overall
Colorado Rockies 4.5 4.5 5.0 4.5

Selected Comments

  • Goodman and Huson, the main broadcasting combo, leave a bit to be desired although they both have a lot of insight. Ryan Spilborghs is a great member of the group. Overall, a pretty charismatic group but there are some analytical aspects lacking.
  • Analysis of within game situations is good. Critical analysis of the team’s overall capabilities comes up short.
  • The saving grace of the broadcast is the presence of Ryan Spilborghs and Jenny Cavnar. Both are perfectly mellow and intelligent.

28. Texas Rangers

Texas Rangers TV Broadcast Ratings
Team Analysis Charisma Coherence Overall
Texas Rangers 4.9 4.3 5.4 4.5

Selected Comments

  • Raymond is excellent. Nitkowski can be too boisterous, almost like he’s trying to get his own sports talk show.
  • Tom Grieve is nice to hear every once in a while. He’s more comfortably familiar than insightful. It’s been nearly a decade, and I just want Josh Lewin back, with cookie reviews and all. Any issues in the booth don’t extend to on-field reporting, where Emily Jones has been excellent for many years.

27. Atlanta Braves

Atlanta Braves TV Broadcast Ratings
Team Analysis Charisma Coherence Overall
Atlanta Braves 4.7 5.2 5.2 4.9

Selected Comments

  • Analysis is at its best when Glavine is in the booth.
  • Francoeur is really who makes the broadcast for me. He is likable, fun, provides good insight, and simply loves the game of baseball. Crull and Byrd are a fun group on the field also.
  • This crew is fun to listen to if the Braves win, but when they lose it gives off “old man yelling at clouds” vibes. Also, they hated analytics until analytics showed how good Freeman was in 2020.

26. Washington Nationals

Washington Nationals TV Broadcast Ratings
Team Analysis Charisma Coherence Overall
Washington Nationals 4.9 5.2 5.4 5.2

Selected Comments

  • F.P. Santangelo is understandably divisive; I was a long-time hater, but I’ve finally come around. He notices and appreciates the details of the game that make baseball seem fresh on the thousandth viewing. Those joyful moments and astute observations are finally enough for me to outweigh his more outlandish takes.
  • I don’t think there’s a gray area on F.P. You either love his dumb comments and jokes or you hate them.
  • F.P. is the guy in your freshman philosophy class that would ask a ton of thought provoking questions, but would only show up to class once every few weeks. I mean this as a compliment.
  • Carpenter is solid. Alex Chappell is great.

25. Pittsburgh Pirates

Pittsburgh Pirates TV Broadcast Ratings
Team Analysis Charisma Coherence Overall
Pittsburgh Pirates 5.3 5.2 5.5 5.2

Selected Comments

  • I like how they sometimes do extended interviews with players in game. Like, not the one question things that everyone does, they’ll talk to a player on the bench for a full inning.
  • Bob Walk is the best of the group due to his humor.
  • The rotating color commentators are hit or miss, but Bob Walk and John Wehner are usually a joy to listen to.

24. Philadelphia Phillies

Philadelphia Phillies TV Broadcast Ratings
Team Analysis Charisma Coherence Overall
Philadelphia Phillies 5.0 5.8 4.9 5.5

Selected Comments

  • Kruk and Rollins are the two best reasons to listen to this broadcast.
  • Murphy is a solid field reporter, engaging and upbeat.
  • Tom McCarthy and John Kruk make a great duo, Ben Davis often feels like a third wheel. Ruben Amaro brings back bad memories but is often insightful.

23. Arizona Diamondbacks

Arizona Diamondbacks TV Broadcast Ratings
Team Analysis Charisma Coherence Overall
Arizona Diamondbacks 5.5 5.9 5.7 5.7

Selected Comments

  • Brenly is an old school dude, which can be looked down on sometimes in this era of analytics. That said, I have always enjoyed listening to his perspective on the game and the anecdotes he shares. He may not be the best at explaining UZR, but he knows baseball and can explain it in a very relatable way.
  • The occasional break from Brenly would be nice to highlight his strong points.

22. Cincinnati Reds

Cincinnati Reds TV Broadcast Ratings
Team Analysis Charisma Coherence Overall
Cincinnati Reds 6.1 5.5 6.3 5.8

Selected Comments

  • Jeff Brantley tells it like it is. Hats off to him for doing so.
  • I like Brantley quite a bit. I wish he worked more games.
  • This broadcast is quickly improving. To be clear, everything doesn’t have to be analytical, and it isn’t, but simply moving away from an anti-analytical stance has helped stop the spread of bad information and made the games much more enjoyable to listen to.

21. St. Louis Cardinals

St. Louis Cardinals TV Broadcast Ratings
Team Analysis Charisma Coherence Overall
St. Louis Cardinals 5.7 5.8 5.9 5.8

Selected Comments

  • Jim Edmonds is the best color commentator they have.
  • Edmonds once learned about the Binghamton Rumble Ponies during a broadcast and spent the next three innings looking up weird minor league team names and laughing at them.
  • Dan McLaughlin typically rises or falls to the levels of his guests. When they have analytical, smart people on as guests, he’s engaging and willing to explain advanced and statistical concepts. But when he has someone on who hates “sabermetrics,” so does he.
  • Ricky Horton has made incredible strides and actually does a good job mixing player stories with analytical approaches to the game.
  • I feel that the overall analysis is adequate to good but that some color commentators tend to go off on tangents too frequently.

If you’d prefer to see the ratings all in one table, you’re in luck: here are the 10 teams covered today in sortable grid form:

TV Broadcast Ratings
Rank Team Analysis Charisma Coherence Overall
30 Detroit Tigers 4.3 3.2 4.0 3.5
29 Colorado Rockies 4.5 4.5 5.0 4.5
28 Texas Rangers 4.9 4.3 5.4 4.5
27 Atlanta Braves 4.7 5.2 5.2 4.9
26 Washington Nationals 4.9 5.2 5.4 5.2
25 Pittsburgh Pirates 5.3 5.2 5.5 5.2
24 Philadelphia Phillies 5.0 5.8 4.9 5.5
23 Arizona Diamondbacks 5.5 5.9 5.7 5.7
22 Cincinnati Reds 6.1 5.5 6.3 5.8
21 St. Louis Cardinals 5.7 5.8 5.9 5.8

There doesn’t appear to be one unifying similarity among the broadcast crews that received the worst ratings. The most significant theme appears to be rotating booths; a majority of these teams use multiple color commentators in varying amounts. Broadcaster camaraderie can cover for many sins, and most of the best-rated teams feature a main pairing with only occasional substitutions. Some of the broadcasts on today’s list would likely improve if they settled on one main booth. For the most part, though, these booths have one or two strong performers but don’t do enough to lean into those strengths, a theme that will continue in the next installment.

Ben is a writer at FanGraphs. He can be found on Twitter @_Ben_Clemens.

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3 years ago

The sad part for Detroit is that the broadcast team of Rod Allen and Mario Impemba were enjoyable to watch. Sigh.

3 years ago
Reply to  LMOTFOTE

Also sad that they hated each other so much. They were a really solid combo back in the Tigers glory years