Broadcaster Crowdsourcing Results, Part 2: 20-11

Last month, we at FanGraphs put out a call for broadcaster ratings. The votes are now in. Starting yesterday and continuing today, we are 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, with a final summation at some point after that.

As a refresher, our survey asked for scores on four axes. If you’d like a thorough explanation of them, as well as a listing of each team’s broadcast groups, you can read our articles for the East, Central, and West divisions. 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 anything 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 continue.

20. Kansas City Royals

Kansas City Royals TV Broadcast Ratings
Team Analysis Charisma Coherence Overall
Kansas City Royals 5.9 6.1 5.7 5.9

Selected Comments

  • Lefebvre and Physioc are excellent on the analysis and coherence but down on charisma. Hurdler is down on the first two but dynamite on charisma. So actually it’s a very balanced booth. I enjoy listening to them. But I must admit that Rex Hudler is an acquired taste. I have come to enjoy his work.
  • Entertaining? Yes. Good? Hmm…not sure. Is there a difference? Even less sure.
  • KC’s broadcasting teams have been in place for too long, and sound like it. They need updating for a fresher outlook on the game and to reflect diversity. All the radio and TV crews are composed of white men.

19. Cleveland Baseball Team

Cleveland Baseball Team TV Broadcast Ratings
Team Analysis Charisma Coherence Overall
Cleveland Baseball Team 5.5 6.1 6.3 6.0

Selected Comments

  • Despite not being a very statistically-advanced analyst, Rick Manning does a pretty good job as the color commentator, offering a decent 30,000 foot perspective both as a former player and an intelligent observer.
  • I find too much of the in-game discussion revolves around why “old school” tactics are superior and a denigration of advanced analytics.
  • Andre Knott is relatively new to the team, but he has become the glue that holds it together. His charisma is second to none, and the players all seem to love him.
  • A broadcast team that is neither severely lacking, nor excels at anything. They do a nice job of blending into the background, which I find enjoyable at times.

18. New York Yankees

New York Yankees TV Broadcast Ratings
Team Analysis Charisma Coherence Overall
New York Yankees 6.2 5.9 6.0 6.0

Selected Comments

  • Despise the Yankees, love watching games on YES.
  • David Cone is the best part of the broadcast. Michael Kay is good unless he gets into “radio-show host mode” where he treats things like his talk-radio show, which leads to him ranting quite a lot and gets old quickly.
  • Not the worst but not the best.
  • O’Neill/Cone/Singleton would be a great listen if you jettisoned all others.

17. Miami Marlins

Miami Marlins TV Broadcast Ratings
Team Analysis Charisma Coherence Overall
Miami Marlins 6.3 6.4 6.4 6.3

Selected Comments

  • There is too much talk over game action. They need to be less analytical. Stats overwhelm the game.
  • Sometimes voices are hard to distinguish between play-by-play and color commentator.
  • Loved Severino’s work as main PBP guy, and Hollandsworth has started his career off well while clearly learning from the more experienced individuals he works with. I look forward to when my team plays the Marlins.
  • Severino was much improved in 2020. He’s my favorite part of the broadcast now.

16. Boston Red Sox

Boston Red Sox TV Broadcast Ratings
Team Analysis Charisma Coherence Overall
Boston Red Sox 6.2 7.0 6.5 6.5

Selected Comments

  • Eckersley has the “Bill Walton” factor going for him in that he’s irreverent, and he’s also reached a point in life where it seems he doesn’t care if people object to his opinions, and that leads to refreshing honesty on air.
  • The contrast between Dave O’Brien’s light accent and Jerry Remy’s heavy Boston accent is hilarious.
  • If there was a rating for “local accents,” Jerry Remy would get a 10.
  • It’s best with Eck and Remy in a three-man booth. They don’t talk over each other like most do and the stories are fabulous.
  • The homerism gets to be a bit much.

15. Baltimore Orioles

Baltimore Orioles TV Broadcast Ratings
Team Analysis Charisma Coherence Overall
Baltimore Orioles 6.5 6.7 6.8 6.6

Selected Comments

  • Palmer may be a bit full of himself and Thorne may not be able to distinguish between a slider and a changeup, but they are the best tandem I’ve heard call a baseball game. Great voices, complement each other very well, and devoid of the usual homerism and “get off my lawn” grumpiness one usually finds.
  • A bit too “homerish” for my tastes.
  • Kevin Brown is simply fantastic, great analysis (he even talks advanced stats!), great chatter, and he literally makes every partner better.
  • Bonus points for the anguish and/or disdain that creeps into Thorne’s voice when the Orioles do something bad (so, lately, pretty often).

14. Los Angeles Angels

Los Angeles Angels TV Broadcast Ratings
Team Analysis Charisma Coherence Overall
Los Angeles Angels 7.1 7.0 7.2 7.1

Selected Comments

  • I’ve become a fan of the Angels because of Victor Rojas and Mark Gubicza. They make me laugh without going off the rails, and keep me fully engaged in the game without putting me to sleep. They also are pretty competent baseball guys who aren’t stuck in an old school mentality of analyzing the game. I came to see the Trout but got hooked by the excellent broadcasting.
  • Rojas gives a great SoCal vibe to his broadcasting.
  • Great baseball knowledge, great chemistry with each other, and you can tell they’re having fun doing what they do.

13. Houston Astros

Houston Astros TV Broadcast Ratings
Team Analysis Charisma Coherence Overall
Houston Astros 6.8 7.1 7.1 7.1

Selected Comments

  • The TK-Blummer-Julia trio (as they’re affectionately known among Astros fans) is a delight. They’re entertaining, they have genuine chemistry and love for the game, they crack you up. I don’t think I learn much from them, but I don’t care.
  • Somehow more than the sum of their parts. Many games joined by Jeff Bagwell are pretty good.
  • Blum and Kalas do a good job working in analytics in an easily understandable way.

12. Minnesota Twins

Minnesota Twins TV Broadcast Ratings
Team Analysis Charisma Coherence Overall
Minnesota Twins 7.1 6.6 7.7 7.3

Selected Comments

  • Bremer knows the team and apparently the entire state. It’s a little hard to evaluate his work with Morneau when they aren’t actually together, but Morneau kind of “grows on you” and is regularly getting more comfortable. They are enjoyable to listen to.
  • Morneau has some good insight but is straight ahead, not much charisma. Not a story teller or loaded with anecdotes. Marney Gelnar is solid, very Midwestern, and right for the role.
  • Twins announcers are Twins fans. There is nothing wrong with them being pro-team but there needs to be some balance. My biggest complaint is the lack of information on weather, positioning, and the descriptive pictures of the game.
  • Jack Morris feels out of place when he makes a rare appearance.

11. Seattle Mariners

Seattle Mariners TV Broadcast Ratings
Team Analysis Charisma Coherence Overall
Seattle Mariners 7.1 6.9 7.3 7.3

Selected Comments

  • Blowers is a star in my opinion. Understated and accommodating. Sims has done a nice job filling in the space of a hall of gamer. Goldsmith will be a full time national guy soon. Preternatural ability.
  • Mariners broadcasters are calm, entertaining and fun to listen to; they largely ignore analysis and prediction in favor of old-fashioned play-by-play and storytelling.
  • Three-fourths of the main crew are “old school,” yet they have all grown to be positive or at worst comparative without dismissal of the modern game compared to the way things were decades ago. It is refreshing and makes every game enjoyable, a must for the oft-underwhelming M’s. It’s a group that has grown together for around a decade or more since Dave Niehaus’ passing, and while Dave’s absence is unfillable, this crew carries the tradition admirably.

The middle portion of our team ratings has a clear bifurcation. The Angels, Astros, Twins, and Mariners are mostly indistinguishable from the top broadcast crews. They all have at least one standout performer and no glaring weaknesses, though what they excel at varies from team to team, so mind the category scores if you’re looking for one style in particular.

The other teams in this group are a mixed bag. Some are iconic, for better or worse — Jerry Remy’s accent is synonymous with Red Sox baseball for me, and the same is true for Gary Thorne’s Orioles-related sadness. Some are passable without being memorable. If you’d like a recap of where that ranks them relative to our first batch of results, you can find a cumulative sortable ranking here:

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
20 Kansas City Royals 5.9 6.1 5.7 5.9
19 Cleveland Baseball Team 5.5 6.1 6.3 6.0
18 New York Yankees 6.2 5.9 6.0 6.0
17 Miami Marlins 6.3 6.4 6.4 6.3
16 Boston Red Sox 6.2 7.0 6.5 6.5
15 Baltimore Orioles 6.5 6.7 6.8 6.6
14 Los Angeles Angels 7.1 7.0 7.2 7.1
13 Houston Astros 6.8 7.1 7.1 7.1
12 Minnesota Twins 7.1 6.6 7.7 7.3
11 Seattle Mariners 7.1 6.9 7.3 7.3

Tune in next time for the final 10 teams in the rankings, as well as an overview of the best and worst divisions in baseball to watch. Once again, thank you for your votes, without which this project wouldn’t exist.

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

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3 years ago

The Angels at 14 just seems wrong. The professionalism, honesty, and genuine joy for baseball that Rojas brings to a regional calling is so good and often not appreciate by fans of the Angels. There are a ton of people I have come across who want them to bring back Rex Hudler and Physioc.. I just don’t get it. When you compare the two booths the current one of Rojas and Gubizca are leaps ahead of the previous one.

Jasper Franciscomember
3 years ago
Reply to  Artie_Fufkin

Back in the days of Fizz and Hud on the Angels:

Fizz: [opponent’s hitter] is 0-for-10 against [Angels pitcher].
Hud: [Angels pitcher] got his number!

Fizz: [Angels hitter] is 0-for-10 against [opponent’s pitcher].
Hud: [Angels hitter] is due!

Six Ten
3 years ago

I have not come around on Hud with the Royals like a lot of people, but I will say he’s open about his homerism. He considers it his job to be the best fan of the team he’s broadcasting for. He’s trying to offer insight that can make the fan feel good about their team rather than giving everyone his “here’s the way it is” take.

My frustration with him is how he insists on trying to be cute about everything (“You can’t sneak a piece of cheese by a hungry rat” every time someone slaps a base hit off a fastball) more than his homerism.

Shirtless George Brett
3 years ago
Reply to  Six Ten

The homerism isnt what bothers me. In fact I totally agree with his take on that (that its his job). He is just really, really obnoxious.

3 years ago

This is legit actually 100% true.