Broadcaster Rankings (Radio): #20 – #11

#30 – #21

At the beginning of March, we released the results of our television broadcaster rankings — itself the product of reader crowdsourcing that had started in late November. Since then, FanGraphs has asked readers to rate the radio broadcast teams (on a scale of 1-5 for charisma, analysis, and then overall) for all 30 major-league clubs — with the intention, ultimately, of determining which broadcasts might best reflect the sorts of inquiry and analysis performed here at the site.

Below are the 20th- through 11th-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.
• I’ve 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 and ballots cast will appear in these pages Friday.

20. Kansas City Royals
Broadcasters: Denny Matthews and Bob Davis
Ratings (Charisma/Analysis/Overall): 3.2, 3.1, 3.4

Three Reader Comments
• “Why shold I try to describe Denny Matthews, when I can let Bill James do it for me? ‘His voice has a pleasant timbre which suggests a cheerful occasion. His inflection varies naturally so it’s neither falsely enthusiastic nor boring. He has a dry, understated humor that drifts through much of his audience undetected. One cannot learn these things at a microphone; they are given.'”
• “Listened to them when taking a break from the Jays broadcast… They were a little dull, but I assume an 11-game losing streak will do that.”
• “Matthews sounds like a gruffer Sean Connery without the Scottish accent.”

Both the television and radio teams for the Royals were restructured over the offseason*, and the result seems to be that Matthews, Steve Physioc, and Ryan Lefebvre will receive the majority of time on radio. Among respondents, there appears to be above-average enthusiasm for Matthews. Finding a suitable partner for him seems to’ve been the problem.

*Credit to reader Brian for the alert.


19. Colorado Rockies
Broadcasters: Jack Corrigan and Jerry Schemmel
Ratings (Charisma/Analysis/Overall): 3.2, 3.4, 3.5

Three Reader Comments
• “Still seems like the Rockies are still an expansion team when you listen to their broadcasts given the way these guys dumb it down as if speaking to an audience that is new to baseball.”
• “Like their employer, Corrigan and Schemmel emphsaize heart and the sacrifice bunt over statistical analysis.”
• “The Rockies have radio broadcasters?!?”

A number of respondents note that Schemmel has only recently begun calling baseball games, after serving as the radio voice of the Denver Nuggets (from 1992 to 2009) and that, while perhaps still above average, he has shown an improved (and improving) feel for the pace of baseball.


18. Cincinnati Reds
Broadcasters: Marty Brennaman and Jeff Brantley
Ratings (Charisma/Analysis/Overall): 3.7, 3.3, 3.6

Three Reader Comments
• “I’m not sure which is worse: when Marty ignores the action on the field to talk about his golf game or dinner plans, or when the game occasionally attracts his attention and he treats us to withering criticism of players regardless of context or basic human compassion.”
• “Marty Brennaman… views the proceedings through exactly the same prism he did in the 1970s. If he were a doctor, he’d still be using leeches. Still, his old school approach would be fine if he weren’t such an angry man.”
• “Brantley is most adept at analyzing a plate of BBQ ribs and a bowl of ice cream (as listeners know come up way too often), but he’s also pretty good at analyzing baseball, especially pitchers.”

The uniformity of the comments regarding Brennaman and Brantley is notable. Most respondents regard Brennaman’s play-by-skills — both in terms of his voice and also capacity for narrating play — as impressive, but note that he is not necessarily at peace with the world and the people in it. Brantley appears to be playful in the way a dad is playful — in that he’s endearing but likely to embarrass you in public.


17. Arizona Diamondbacks
Broadcasters: Greg Schulte and Tom Candiotti
Ratings (Charisma/Analysis/Overall): 3.5, 3.8, 3.7

Two Reader Comments
• “Schulte has a great voice and doesn’t get in the way of the game. He and Candiotti have good chemistry and create a good vibe. Pleasant to listen to.”
• “Overall they have a nice rapport, fairly understated, which is a nice change of pace from Mark ‘THAT’S A BIG BOY!’ Grace… on the TV side.”

Judging by the grade and lack of votes or comments received (just 24 and two, respectively), Schulte and Candiotti appear to be what they are: the quietly competent broadcaster team for a club (i.e. the Diamondbacks) that lacks a particularly large or devoted fanbase.


16. New York Mets
Broadcasters: Howie Rose and Wayne Hagin
Ratings (Charisma/Analysis/Overall): 3.7, 3.8, 3.8

Three Reader Comments
• “Here, Carson, I will sum up all the comments you will get: Howie is great, Wayne is terrible.”
• “God help anyone who’s got jury duty during any trial where Wayne Hagin is a material witness.”
• “One of my favorite moments last year was when the team was in San Fran and Hagin was giving an excruciating breakdown of the California highways connecting the major cities. Howie, clearly aware that Wayne was boring the hell out of everyone, cuts in towards the end with a sarcastic, ‘Thank you Vasco De Gama!'”

For 2012, Hagin has been replaced on the radio side by Josh Lewin, who worked as a television broadcaster with the Rangers from 2002 to 2010 and is known (I think, at least) to be both knowledgable and candid. The pairing of Lewin with Rose should receive higher scores than Hagin and Rose, as the latter is universally beloved, it seems.


15. Baltimore Orioles
Broadcasters: Joe Angel and Fred Manfra
Ratings (Charisma/Analysis/Overall): 3.9, 3.3, 3.9

Three Reader Comments
• “Like a very comfortable, but rather plain, shoe. Joe and Fred both have good voices, offer few frills (Angel’s home-run call notwithstanding), and provide decent if hardly mind-blowing analysis. Sometimes you’ll want more flair, but you can walk a long way with these guys.”
• “Don’t get into a lot of advanced stats, and they do tend to let the game breathe — not like Vin Scully, but still not cramming every second of air-time, which I do appreciate.”
• “I’ve always loved how Joe Angel calls Manfra ‘big boy.'”

“Precisely average,” appears to be the most apt description.


14. Oakland A’s
Broadcasters: Ken Korach and Vince Cotroneo
Ratings (Charisma/Analysis/Overall): 3.9, 3.9, 4.0

Three Reader Comments
• “Cotroneo has grown on me since coming in after the death of the irreplaceable Bill King. The real star of the show is Korach, who is the perfect balance of steady and excitable.”
• “Vince… puts a ton of effort into analytic research, consistently providing top-notch statistical analysis.”
• “Booming stentorian voices to match the great concrete of the Coliseum.”

A number of respondents make reference, with great affection, to the late Bill King, who served as the team’s radio voice from 1981 until his death in 2005. Those same respondents generally note that, while lacking King’s appeal, the team of Cotroneo and (especially) Korach is still entirely competent.


13. Detroit Tigers
Broadcasters: Dan Dickerson and Jim Price
Ratings (Charisma/Analysis/Overall): 4.0, 3.7, 4.1

Three Reader Comments
• “A few years back Dickerson would directly reference things like UZR with regularity. He’s gone away from that a bit, but you can tell he keeps up with the baseball world beyond the booth. He’s also got a pleasant delivery. Outside of his home run call, he stays generally in the restrained tones I prefer from adult males. Jim Price is a buffoon, but his particular buffoonery is good-natured, and easily ignored. I imagine him eating chips, and smiling at his own good fortune whenever he isn’t speaking, and that makes me enjoy him more.”
• “Dan Dickerson is refreshingly SABR aware, but he doesn’t drop too many acronyms during the broadcast. See an interview here.”
• “I… wish they would just replay old Ernie Harwell broadcasts, even if it wouldn’t exactly match up with the game that was occurring at the time.”

The comments regarding Dickerson are almost uniformly positive, citing both his awareness of statistical analysis and capacity to match his voice (in terms of excitement, drama, etc) to the situation as virtues. Opinions on Price are mixed, and he probably has more detractors than fervent supporters.


12. Boston Red Sox
Broadcasters: Joe Castiglione and Dave O’Brien
Ratings (Charisma/Analysis/Overall): 4.0, 3.6, 4.1

Three Reader Comments
• “Castiglione can get a bit nasal when excited, but he’s got a fantastic feel for the game and has been around it forever, and he knows when to let the ambient sounds do the talking. O’Brien is a great complement, although I think he sometimes fails to give enough description (particularly of pitch types), which may be a legacy of his having gotten his start as a TV broadcaster.”
• “Unlike other announcers, they will get excited when something big happens, regardless of whether it’s a good thing or a bad thing for the Red Sox.”
• “That ball is way back, deep to left! It’s gonna come down on Landsdowne Street! Better call 1-800-54-GIANT!”

A criticism that I was surprised not to find among reader comments is that O’Brien, while possessing an excellent voice for radio, might actually suffer for his professionalism. The joy of Castiglione — in this author’s opinion, at least — is that he’s basically a human manifestation of New England; O’Brien, despite having been born in Quincy and growing up in New Hampshire, seems strangely devoid of any regional signifiers.


11. Chicago Cubs
Broadcasters: Pat Hughes and Keith Moreland
Ratings (Charisma/Analysis/Overall): 4.2, 3.7, 4.2

Three Reader Comments
• “Pat Hughes is excellent and a treat to listen to. He does an excellent job visually describing the game between the play-by-play. Keith Moreland is adequate.”
• “Pat Hughes is a GREAT play-by-play guy. Super dry sense of humor, very descriptive, and able to carry on meaningless conversations while still calling every aspect of the game (important for Cubs’ many large losses).”
• “Cubs broadcasts are great, whether on radio or TV. Either way, you will learn the color of the opposing team’s trousers.”

The reponses to this team bear a great deal of resemblence to those for the Tigers radio team above — i.e. overwhelming positive reviews for the play-by-play broadcaster (in this case, Hughes) accompanied by less enthusiastic feelings for the color guy (Moreland).

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

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11 years ago

Wow, just spot-on on the assessment of the Reds broadcasters. A more accurate paragraph could not have been written. The only thing I’d add that wasn’t mentioned is that Marty and Brantley do have a frequently hilarious rapport w/ each other, usually involving Marty condescendingly ripping Brantley and Brantley laughing it off.