Broadcaster Crowdsourcing Results, Part 3: 10-1

Last month, we at FanGraphs put out a call for broadcaster ratings. The votes are now in. Today, we are releasing the last 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.

If you missed teams 30-11, you can catch up on those installments here and here. You can also peruse the initial surveys for the East, Central, and West if you’d like to see a list of each team’s booth.

As a refresher, our survey asked for scores on four axes. I’ll recap them briefly here before sharing the booths you thought were the league’s best.

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.

The comments that accompany each team’s rankings have been lightly edited for clarity and aren’t meant to be exhaustive, merely a sampling of the high points each fanbase highlighted. Let’s get to it.

10. Oakland Athletics

Oakland Athletics TV Broadcast Ratings
Team Analysis Charisma Coherence Overall
Oakland Athletics 7.2 7.3 7.6 7.5

Selected Comments

  • Dallas Braden has the best puns.
  • Braden is over the top. Everyone else is solid.
  • Slight over-reliance on announcer clichés that don’t actually fit the moment, but nothing else to quibble with.
  • Kuiper and Fosse come across as old friends I have never met. They are a pleasure to hear just talking to each other. They make a ball game fun.

9. Toronto Blue Jays

Toronto Blue Jays TV Broadcast Ratings
Team Analysis Charisma Coherence Overall
Toronto Blue Jays 7.1 8.0 7.7 7.7

Selected Comments

  • Buck Martinez is a legend with a cult following in Toronto. Dan Shulman is a consummate professional, and the rest of the broadcast team is strong, too.
  • The addition of Shulman full-time will likely show a great improvement in this year’s rankings – he’s phenomenal and makes Buck better.
  • Dan Shulman is the Mike Trout of announcers, singlehandedly pulling this team out of the basement.

8. Tampa Bay Rays

Tampa Bay Rays TV Broadcast Ratings
Team Analysis Charisma Coherence Overall
Tampa Bay Rays 7.8 7.3 7.7 7.7

Selected Comments

  • Staats’ and Anderson’s greatest strength is knowing when not to talk and to let the game speak for itself. Anderson’s rants and pop culture references are a delight, and Dewayne [Staats] is a friendly voice who doesn’t make the broadcast about him. My main complaints are because I’m a FanGraphs reader: Dewayne loves historical pitcher-batter outcomes way too much and BA doesn’t drink from the deep well of sabermetrics.
  • Dewayne Staats has a classic broadcaster voice.
  • BA, Dewayne, and Tricia Whitaker make for a fun trio.

7. San Francisco Giants

San Francisco Giants TV Broadcast Ratings
Team Analysis Charisma Coherence Overall
San Francisco Giants 7.8 8.4 8.2 8.2

Selected Comments

  • These guys are great, but much better when the Giants are good.
  • Sure, “Kruk and Kuip” are homers, though tastefully so with ample appreciation for good things the other team does. But they’re just fun to listen to, they obviously care about the games, the team and each other, and it’s a little like listening to your favorite uncles who know a lot about baseball sitting there with you watching the game. That won’t be to everybody’s taste, but it’s tough to beat for a Giants fan.
  • The rare occasions Javier López is in commentating [provide] fantastic, very insightful, quick-witted color commentary.
  • Appearances by Dave Flemming and Jon Miller are a treat.

6. San Diego Padres

San Diego Padres TV Broadcast Ratings
Team Analysis Charisma Coherence Overall
San Diego Padres 7.5 8.7 8.1 8.3

Selected Comments

  • They do a great job of subtly rooting for the home team without acting like a “homer.”
  • Mark Grant is the funniest color man in baseball. Definitely not an analytics guy, but so refreshingly self-effacing. I love how he yells “launch angle” on home runs. Orsillo is a great sidekick. Sometimes disappointed at Sweeney games.
  • Orsillo is a pro’s pro who has been corrupted just the right amount by Grant.

5. Milwaukee Brewers

Milwaukee Brewers TV Broadcast Ratings
Team Analysis Charisma Coherence Overall
Milwaukee Brewers 7.7 8.4 8.3 8.4

Selected Comments

  • Brian Anderson has become an iconic voice for the franchise, not an easy task considering Bob Uecker seemingly had that market cornered. Sophia Minnaert conducts thoughtful interviews, and her bilingual capabilities make her one of the most versatile field-level reporters in baseball.
  • Uecker = Legend.
  • Brian Anderson is among the best broadcasters in the game, and better when covering the Brewers than he is at a national level. And Bob Uecker is a national treasure. Jeff Levering has a strong future ahead.

4. Chicago Cubs

Chicago Cubs TV Broadcast Ratings
Team Analysis Charisma Coherence Overall
Chicago Cubs 8.3 8.2 8.3 8.4

Note: This vote was conducted before Len Kasper announced he was leaving the broadcast.

Selected Comments

  • Deshaies is a fine analyst, and has embraced today’s advanced metrics. Kasper is kind of a cornball. Among the rotating third guys, Doug Glanville is the best.
  • They end up talking about new and relevant stats that you’d find on FanGraphs, but you wouldn’t notice if you didn’t know. They seamlessly bring it into the story of the game and talk about it clearly.
  • Stop with the guests. Or at least not so often. This team thrived as a two-man booth.
  • There are too many people trying to get words in edgewise. Cool it with the guest analysts.

3. Los Angeles Dodgers

Los Angeles Dodgers TV Broadcast Ratings
Team Analysis Charisma Coherence Overall
Los Angeles Dodgers 8.3 8.3 8.5 8.5

Selected Comments

  • Joe Davis is terrific. Orel Hershiser’s analysis is passable, though almost none of it seems to pertain to the other team.
  • Hershiser’s my favorite member of the broadcast team.
  • Joe Davis is a star. Well-prepared and clearly a daily reader of FanGraphs. Orel’s homerism can be grating but his analysis and humor are assets.
  • Joe is great, almost uniformly. Orel’s best when talking pitching or team dynamics or on-field strategy, but struggles a bit with advanced metrics. Still, the team is rarely overly indulgent and keeps the focus on the game. Impossible to say it’s an upgrade over Vin but they’re doing a great job.
  • Alanna Rizzo is great at a job that’s usually superfluous at best. It’s really, really hard to get value-add info out of one or two questions in the middle of a game, and she does it pretty much every time. No fluff, just good insights.

2. Chicago White Sox

Chicago White Sox TV Broadcast Ratings
Team Analysis Charisma Coherence Overall
Chicago White Sox 8.8 8.4 8.6 8.5

Selected Comments

  • Benetti strikes a near-perfect balance between taking the game seriously and just sitting back and enjoying baseball.
  • The best rapport in the game.
  • Let Benetti announce everything. Preferably accompanied by Bill Walton.
  • One of my favorite booths in the game. They mix “new school” analytics with classic analysis and seem to have an enjoyable time doing it.
  • Steve Stone’s prescient analysis is the show stopper here.

1. New York Mets

New York Mets TV Broadcast Ratings
Team Analysis Charisma Coherence Overall
New York Mets 9.0 9.5 9.3 9.4

Selected Comments

  • Best chemistry of any booth in baseball. They pass the ultimate litmus test of being able to make blowout games entertaining.
  • I’d listen to these guys call a shuffleboard match. Endlessly entertaining even (maybe especially) when the game is out of hand.
  • Keith can ramble into incoherence but, honestly, that just drives the charisma up even higher. The broadcast also never seems to miss a replay of a moment. I never find myself begging for a replay like I do for other broadcasts. Beyond the announcers, the production is almost perfect.
  • Gary Cohen is the best in the business. Ron Darling is merely adequate on the national broadcasts but he’s excellent during Mets games.
  • Despite being somewhat dismissive of analytics this booth is informative, humorous and entertaining. Also exceptionally well-prepared about the opposing team, which is rarer than it should be.
  • The Mets trifecta still supplies high comedy, but I feel like they have collectively become more grumpy and homerist in recent years.

Before I do a bit of analysis on the results, here are all 30 teams:

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
10 Oakland Athletics 7.2 7.3 7.6 7.5
9 Toronto Blue Jays 7.1 8.0 7.7 7.7
8 Tampa Bay Rays 7.8 7.3 7.7 7.7
7 San Francisco Giants 7.8 8.4 8.2 8.2
6 San Diego Padres 7.5 8.7 8.1 8.3
5 Milwaukee Brewers 7.7 8.4 8.3 8.4
4 Chicago Cubs 8.3 8.2 8.3 8.4
3 Los Angeles Dodgers 8.3 8.3 8.5 8.5
2 Chicago White Sox 8.8 8.4 8.6 8.5
1 New York Mets 9.0 9.5 9.3 9.4

It’s telling to me that nearly all the top teams feature excellent play-by-play commentators. It may simply be my bias poking through, but I enjoy broadcasts most when the banter in the booth seamlessly melds into game action, something that Gary Cohen and Jason Benetti in particular excel at. However you slice it, though, the best booths all feature strong chemistry between two or three main announcers.

Would you like to see the data sliced up by division? I’m not sure why you would, but here it is:

TV Broadcast Ratings by Division
Division Analysis Charisma Coherence Overall
AL East 6.7 7 6.9 6.9
NL East 6 6.4 6.2 6.3
AL Central 6.3 6.1 6.4 6.2
NL Central 6.6 6.6 6.8 6.7
AL West 6.6 6.5 6.9 6.7
NL West 6.7 7.1 7.1 7

I’m not sure this means much — the two divisions with the lowest overall scores feature the top two teams in our survey. The remainder of the NL East and AL Central simply scored abysmally. The best teams are also spread out — regardless of which division you follow most closely, there’s a top 10 broadcasting crew somewhere for you. That won’t help if you follow your home team and are blacked out of the opposing broadcast, but for anyone else, the wide range of solid options means you shouldn’t have to suffer bad broadcasting if you don’t want to.

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

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David Klein
3 years ago

Gary has been more open to analytics in the last few years and mentions fangraphs at times and clearly reads it and he praised Travis back when he wrote here. The rants by Ron and Keith about replay is grating and Ron has gotten a little too back in my day ranty the last few years, Keith is incredibly charismatic and funny, but his rants on the shift and analytics can get old. That said, the next day he’ll praise the Rays and A’s front offices and their use of analytics. I have issues at times with them but overall they’re the best. I thought Ron was bad on national broadcasts too but when teamed with Frenchy in the playoffs this past year he was pretty good.

The Cubs announce team is excellent whenever I hear them calling a game picked up by the mlb network.

3 years ago
Reply to  David Klein

Yeah, that’s something I appreciate a lot about Keith’s announcing, he’ll often start what sounds like a curmudgeon rant about how “back in my day we never did this stuff [analytics, shift, etc.]” but the conclusion is basically “…and this new way is probably better (even if I don’t like it!)”