Broadcaster Rankings (TV): #20 – #11

Introduction and #31
#30 – #21

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 20th- through 11th-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.

20. Pittsburgh Pirates
Broadcasters: Some combination of Greg Brown, Tim Neverett, Bob Walk, Steve Blass, and John Wehner
Ratings (Charisma/Analysis/Overall): 3.1, 2.9, 3.0

Three Reader Comments
• “Walk and Brown are very good, Blass and Wehner are pretty weak. Neverett has the chops but lacks the personality in his short time on the job.”
• “Tim N. and Wehner are probably the least annoying combo, but also the least frequent.”
• “They truly detract from the experience of enjoying a game on TV, which is basically the worst thing one can say about announcers.”

There’s some disagreement among respondents as to whom, precisely, is most deserving of their scorn — besides Blass, perhaps, about whom readers are mostly unified in their scorn. Speaking anecdotally, I found this interview by Bob Walk with Charlie Morton from last May to be enlightening.


19. Kansas City Royals
Broadcasters: Ryan Lefebvre and Frank White*
Ratings (Charisma/Analysis/Overall): 3.1, 2.8, 3.0

Three Reader Comments
• “White got fired for occasionally being too honest in his criticisms.”
• “Ryan is a personal fan of Joe Posnanski but still rejects all advanced statistics openly.”
• “Bring back Fred White.” [sic]

As the asterisk is designed to indicate, the broadcast team listed here actually isn’t the one that’ll call TV games for the Royals in 2012, as Rex Hudler is set to replace White, and Ryan Lefebvre — if I’m not mistaken — will appear more often on the Royals radio broadcast. The general sense among respondents is that the new arrangement is not an improvement.


18. Cincinnati Reds
Broadcasters: Thom Brennaman and Chris Welsh
Ratings (Charisma/Analysis/Overall): 3.1, 3.2, 3.1

Three Reader Comments
• “For breaking down the game, that’s about a 4.5 for Welsh, who is quite good, and a 2 for Thom, who is talented at announcing but too thinly spread to have a strong grasp of the game.”
• “Brennaman : Baseball :: Not Washing Your Hands : Bathroom Etiquette.”
• “Unctuous, repulsively insincere and condescending: Thom Brennaman’s black heart routinely bleeds the life out of the game we love…. Chris Welsh isn’t so bad. He tries to understand the new numbers, but discussing them with Brennaman is like talking about the theory of relativity with a soap dish.”

Many of the reader comments confirm the one thing that those of us outside the Cincinnati market suspect about Thom Brennaman — namely, that he is very polished and, because of that, can appear disingenuous. Also, that one reader up there says his heart is black — which, that probably warrants medical attention.


17. San Diego Padres
Broadcasters: Dick Enberg and Mark Grant
Ratings (Charisma/Analysis/Overall): 3.4, 3.1, 3.1

Three Reader Comments
• “As a team, the results might be skewed. I believe that individually you would find Grant earning higher marks than Enberg.”
• “Dick Enberg has a classic voice, and when he was first hired, I was excited about the hire. Many fans complain that he doesn’t seem like he wants the Padres to win. If it was simply that he was trying to be neutral, I could accept that. But often it seems as if he’s actively rooting for the Padres opponents.”
• “Mark Grant is an excellent commentator, as is occasional contributor Tony Gwynn. However, Dick Enberg gets a lot of deserved flak for cheerleading the other team and wandering off on tangents.”

No team so far has received such consistency in the comments as this one. There is, generally, a great deal of respect among respondents both for Enberg’s voice and his accomplishments as a broadcaster, but less enthusiasm for his Padres play-by-play work. One commenter suggests that Grant is “cut from the same cloth” as Mike Krukow in San Francisco. They both own Man Voices, is certainly one thing they have in common.


16. Miami Marlins
Broadcasters: Rich Waltz and Tommy Hutton
Ratings (Charisma/Analysis/Overall): 3.2, 3.0, 3.1

Three Reader Comments
• “Tommy Hutton is not afraid to take unpopular positions. I don’t like how they ignore the game in a blowout, however.”
• “Biggest problem is their lack of chemistry. Rick & Tommy don’t work well off each other.”
• “Tommy is… rambling [and] hot-headed… at times.

Only 37 ballots were cast for the Marlins broadcasters, which places them in the bottom 20% of all teams, so far as that goes. (Note: vote totals will be published here, at the site, on Friday.) If you’re wondering why there are two ellipses in the third reader comment above, it’s because I’ve omitted the word moron. As someone who is frequently described as a moron, I know how much it hurts.


15. Texas Rangers
Broadcasters: Dave Barnett and Tom Grieve
Ratings (Charisma/Analysis/Overall): 3.0, 3.1, 3.1

Three Reader Comments
• “The Rangers TV team does not make me want to hurl things at the TV in frustration.”
• “With Lewin, the Texas broadcast team was top notch; without Lewin, it’s closer to the ho-hum category.”
• “In general, Ranger fans are jaded by TV broadcast because they’re spoiled listening to radio voice of the irreplaceable Eric Nadel.”

Barnett was actually a mid-season replacement in 2011 for John Rhadigan, who himself was replacing Josh Lewin, after the latter was fired at the end of 2010. The general sense among readers — and the sense that I personally have — is that Lewin is an above-average play-by-play man. Also, note: radio broadcaster Eric Nadel really is excellent.


14. Minnesota Twins
Broadcasters: Dick Bremer and Bert Blyleven
Ratings (Charisma/Analysis/Overall): 3.5, 2.7, 3.2

Three Reader Comments
• “Good, not great. Two of the better home-spun homers. Circle FanGraphs, Bert.”
• “[Dick Bremer’s] love for Michael Cuddyer is not healthy.”
• “Bert is just… frustrating. He has a list of things he says every single game, to the point where my friends and I made a drinking game.”

The Twins broadcasters feature the biggest difference (0.8 points) among all teams between their Charisma and Analysis ratings, and this appears to have everything to do with Bert Blyleven — a man who, it must be said, both (a) loves to fart and (b) is zero percent ashamed to admit it.


13. Seattle Mariners
Broadcasters: Dave Sims and Mike Blowers
Ratings (Charisma/Analysis/Overall): 3.3, 3.0, 3.3

Three Reader Comments
• “Decent announcers. Not really in line with SABR or FanGraphs type analysis, but which team broadcasters are? They suffer from trying to fill Niehaus’ shoes in the Seattle market.”
• “Dave Sims (PbP) has charisma and calls the game reasonably well. His analysis skills are lacking. Mike Blowers (color) is just blah, but he’s not bad and occasionally has some nice insights.”
• “Dave and Mike are acquired tastes, but once you’ve developed a palate for them, they are a great complement to terrible baseball.”

The beloved Dave Niehaus, who had been the Mariners play-by-play man since the team’s inaugural season in 1977, passed away in 2010. About a third of respondents mention Niehaus in their comments.


12. Baltimore Orioles
Broadcasters: Gary Thorne and Jim Palmer
Ratings (Charisma/Analysis/Overall): 3.4, 3.2, 3.3

Three Reader Comments
• “Thorne is fun, kind of goofy but likable. Palmer is long-winded and a bit narcissistic, but provides sound analysis, some interesting anecdotes and possesses a phenomenal memory for stats and personal experiences (plus, the hair).”
• “As a Bmore fan I never ever have the urge to listen to other teams.”
• “[Thorne] is particularly notable for letting the gap get longer and longer between the ‘please drink’ and the ‘responsibly’ at the end of the seventh inning Jim Beam ad.”

A number of respondents add that Thorne has difficulty with identifying pitch types sometimes.


11. Los Angeles Angels
Broadcasters: Victor Rojas and Mark Gubicza
Ratings (Charisma/Analysis/Overall): 3.4, 3.2, 3.3

Three Reader Comments
• “Victor is first-rate. Gubicza is okay, very cliche: if you watch more than five Angel games you’ll already be able to read his lines along with him.”
• “They really should be broken out seperately. Rojas is very good with his sarcastic dry wit. Gubicza however… repeats the same catch phrases day in and day out whether they apply or not.”
• “If I were just grading Victor Rojas, it would be fives across the board. But Victor’s understated and intelligent play-by-play is undercut by Gubicza’s hapless color commentary. He has a library of about 10-12 tired cliches that he trots out every single game, offering nothing in the way of actual insight.”

This is literally almost every comment.

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

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11 years ago

“the new arrangement is not an improvement” – Understatement. Hudler is embarrassingly bad. If they stick with him, I’ll never have the volume on.