Broadcaster Rankings (TV): #10 – #1

Introduction and #31
#30 – #21
#20 – #11

Beginning in late November, we’ve spent much of the offseason asking readers to rate the television 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. (Click here for more on this project.)

Below are the 10th- through 1st-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.
• 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.

10. Tampa Bay Rays
Broadcasters: Dewayne Staats and Brian Anderson
Ratings (Charisma/Analysis/Overall): 3.3, 3.2, 3.4

Three Reader Comments
• “Brian Anderson was a huge upgrade over Kevin Kennedy.”
• “Generally good, except for too frequent gigglefits from Brian Anderson.”
• “Dewayne… dominates too much with the same canned pregame notes over and over (Johnny Damon’s hit counts being a big example). By the end of the year, BA was almost openly making fun of him, which was a big part of why we liked him.”

The comments for the Rays broadcast team don’t match up particularly well with the favorable rating. There are a number of negative — if not particularly expansive — comments not published here. The 35 votes received by the Rays broadcast was among the lowest of any team, and might explain the lack of consistency between the numbers and written responses.

9. Oakland Athletics
Broadcasters: Glen Kuiper and Ray Fosse
Ratings (Charisma/Analysis/Overall): 3.4, 3.2, 3.4

Three Reader Comments
• “Think it’s a good team. They let the game breathe. Sometimes they seem a little dull, but its more do to a stagnant A’s franchise in the last few years.”
• “Kuiper seems pretty fungible to me. If I took a DeLorean from 2001 to now I probably wouldn’t notice that he wasn’t Greg Papa for at least 3 innings. I think Fosse is pretty great, though. He can be a little ‘old school’ sometimes, which Kuip doesn’t offset at all, but he’s very likeable, has a good voice and is a good story teller.”
• “Fosse has been pulled down by Kuiper in terms of broadcasting acumen. When Fosse worked with Greg Pappa, Fosse was a lot better than he is now.”

There’s almost unanimous support among respondents here for colorman Ray Fosse. The comments regarding Kuiper are mixed, but generally point to him being competent.

8. Detroit Tigers
Broadcasters: Mario Impemba and Rod Allen
Ratings (Charisma/Analysis/Overall): 3.6, 3.0, 3.5

Three Reader Comments
• “Mario Impemba is a solid if unspectacular announcer; he stays out of the way of the game, which is something that a lot of announcers don’t seem to understand or execute.”
• “I would have scored higher for Rod Allen if this was cast individually. Mario Impemba, although not bad at all, is just so average that he weighs the entire broadcast and broadcasting duo down to average. That being said, I’d rather have someone like Impemba who ‘lets the game do the talking’ over somebody who constantly talks over it or who tries to ‘sell’ me on the game/sport I’m already watching.”
• “Mario Impemba is one of the bust in the business.” [sic]

If there’s a criticism from respondents, it’s mostly that Rod Allen can get silly. After watching several broadcasts last year to the end of writing this review, I felt Allen actually had a nice way of making simple but elegant observations that added to the game narrative.

7. Milwaukee Brewers
Broadcasters: Brian Anderson and Bill Schroeder
Ratings (Charisma/Analysis/Overall): 3.6, 3.2, 3.6

Three Reader Comments
• “Brian Anderson is outstanding and by himself makes the pair above average.”
• “Occasional viewers may find the pairing a tad vanilla, but consistent viewers can appreciate the small details the two notice during games.”
• “Analysis becomes a 4 (possibly 5) when Jeff Cirillo is in over Bill Schroeder.”

The favorable rating from FanGraphs readers appears due largely to Anderson’s play-by-play work — with which those outside the Milwaukee market (i.e. mostly everyone) will have heard courtesy his (Anderson’s) playoff work with TBS. Like San Diego’s Mark Grant and San Francisco’s Mike Krukow, Schroeder possesses the voice of an archetypal Baseball Man.

6. Chicago Cubs
Broadcasters: Len Kasper and Bob Brenly
Ratings (Charisma/Analysis/Overall): 3.7, 3.9, 3.9

Three Reader Comments
• “Their balance is very good and they’ve improved immensely since their 2005 debut. When games are close, they do not detract from the on-field action; when the games are blowouts, their conversation does wander, but in a very entertaining way… Bob often tells stories from his playing days that are funny and self-deprecating.”
• “Len Kasper is outstanding and often cites FanGraphs in an unobtrusive way that introduces more advanced stats. Bob Brenly’s greatest asset as a broadcaster may be allowing Len to talk about these concepts without much interjection, although he occasionally produces astute analysis.”
• “Brenly can predict the future.”

As these, and other, repondents note, Kasper has cited FanGraphs with some frequency over the last year or two (or more, maybe, I don’t know). So far as I know, he’s really only rivaled by Yankees part-time colorman David Cone in terms of his comfort with advanced stats.

5. Boston Red Sox
Broadcasters: Don Orsillo and Jerry Remy
Ratings (Charisma/Analysis/Overall): 4.0, 3.6, 4.0

Three Reader Comments
• “The broadcasts feel appropriately ‘regional.’ (Accents help.)”
• “They can be hilarious. Sometimes being hilarious is unprofessional. Sometimes being hilarious leads to unintentionally unrestrained laughter-squeaks and pauses in commentary due to breath-catching. Never have I seen/hear this from other broadcasting teams, so it’s pleasantly unique.”
• “They don’t try to do too much, they’re comfortable with their audience, and they can be hilarious. They almost never tell me something I don’t know though, and tell me things I know are wrong not unfrequently.”

The comment about the broadcast being regionally appropriate is astute, I think. The accents, yeah, but also the nature of the banter between Remy and Orsillo. My guess is that the sorts of things that readers dislike about Remy and Orsillo are the sorts of things they dislike about Bostonians, generally.

4. Houston Astros
Broadcasters: Bill Brown and Jim Deshaies
Ratings (Charisma/Analysis/Overall): 4.3, 4.1, 4.2

Three Reader Comments
• “FanGraphs and other analytical blogs have been mentioned on the broadcast before. While the team may suck the Houston fan base is lucky to have such a good broadcasting crew to get through the season.”
• “We, as Astros fans, are lucky to have these guys. They can be quite funny and informative at times. Maybe not the sharpest at play by play, but very entertaining.”
• “They are the only reason I will watch the Astros lose over 100 games again this coming season.”

There won’t have been any particularly compelling reasons for non-fans to have sought out Astro games of late, so the reader is excused if he hasn’t seen this broadcast team at work. Note, however, that the comments for Brown and (especially) Deshaies are almost uniformly gushing.

3. San Francisco Giants
Broadcasters: Duane Kuiper and Mike Krukow
Ratings (Charisma/Analysis/Overall): 4.7, 4.4, 4.7

Three Reader Comments
• “This is a great broadcast crew to listen to if you want to hear about the finer details of pitch sequencing and pitching strategy. Krukow is very good at offering non-Lowest Common Denominator analysis, and while being a former player, doesn’t fall into the ‘gritty grindy’ analysis trap.”
• “Kruk and Kuip are great and hearing a game called by them is a treat. They’re funny, personable, and impart plenty of knowledge and stories from their playing days to the viewers. My only real complaint is that they rarely if ever criticize the team’s decisions. There are ways to do that without being nasty, or come off as downers, but they always act like every decision made by the Giants is the right one (Krukow especially).”
• “On [umpire] Jeff Kellogg taking a foul tip to the groin: ‘Two balls, one strike.'”

There does seem to be a great deal of affection among respondents for Kuiper and Krukow. Also, probably over 50% of the comments make a point of noting the contributions of radio (and occasional TV) broadcaster Jon Miller, too.

2. New York Mets
Broadcasters: Gary Cohen, Ron Darling, and Keith Hernandez
Ratings (Charisma/Analysis/Overall): 4.6, 4.4, 4.7

Three Reader Comments
• “I’m a Phillies fan, but am forced to watch Mets games where I live, which are only tolerable due to this announcing crew.”
• “#GKR Drinking Game
• “And to all the fathers out there, happy birthday.”

The only recurring (and substantive) criticism from respondents is that Cohen is resistant to quantitative analysis. Other than that, it’s mostly like, “I wanna marry these guys forever.”

1. Los Angeles Dodgers (Home)
Broadcasters: Vin Scully
Ratings (Charisma/Analysis/Overall): 4.8, 4.5, 4.7

Three Reader Comments
• “Certainly, Mr. Cistulli, it is only a technical error which prevents me from giving Vin Scully a ranking several values higher than ‘5’ on your scale, or am I mistaken?”
• “It is amazing that he does this well, and alone. Maybe other announcers should do the play-by-play AND the color themselves?”
• “America!”

Vin Scully has been an excellent broadcaster since that time in our nation’s history when men wore fedoras unironically.

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

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Skyscraper Jesus
12 years ago

Keith Hernandez makes 72-90 tolerable.

12 years ago

Totally true. Hadn’t paid much attention to this project, so glad these guys did so well. Yeah they could be more saber but they’re great otherwise.
Its too bad the jets don’t have great announcers because between these guys and clyde, sports broadcasting has made a lot of miserable new york sports fan years more tolerable.

Keith Hernandez
12 years ago

I’m Keith Hernandez!