Broadcaster Rankings (TV): #30 – #21

Introduction and #31

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 30th- through 21st-ranked television broadcast teams, per the FanGraphs readership. (Note: teams ranked in ascending order of Overall rating. Other note: Overall ratings are not merely averages of Charisma and Analysis.)

30. Los Angeles Dodgers (Away)
Broadcasters: Eric Collins and Steve Lyons
Ratings (Charisma/Analysis/Overall): 2.2, 2.1, 2.1

Three Two Reader Comments
• “Steve Lyons while calling a Dodgers/Cubs game in May 2010 said ‘Xavier Nady literally has no throwing arm.’ I’m still laughing about that comment today.”
• “Eric Collins is always busy asking questions to Lyons. I’m not sure if they’re disingenous because at times they are seem incredibly rudimentary. To the point where I wonder, ‘Why/how is he broadcasting a baseball game if he doesn’t know THAT?’ Perhaps it’s just Collins indirectly attempting to educate the layman viewer at home by asking Lyons these questions.”

Notes
There were only 22 votes submitted for the Dodgers away broadcast, and two of those were (obviously, given the reader comments attached to them) for Vin Scully, and thus not counted. As a result, it was only really possible to find two — as opposed to three — publishable reader comments.

***

29. St. Louis Cardinals
Broadcasters: Dan McLaughlin, Al Hrabosky, and Rick Horton
Ratings (Charisma/Analysis/Overall): 2.4, 2.1, 2.3

Three Reader Comments
• “I shouldn’t feel like sleeping when my favorite team is on TV.”
• “Whenever possible, I try to play some sort of alternate broadcast while the regular TV broadcast is on mute.”
• “Al Hrabosky… is the reason I am an alcoholic.”

Notes
It appears, from the reader comments, that Dan McLaughlin is a passable play-by-play man for most FanGraphs readers, but that Hrabosky and Horton are difficult to enjoy.

***

28. Colorado Rockies
Broadcasters: Drew Goodman and Jeff Huson (and George Frazier, too)
Ratings (Charisma/Analysis/Overall): 2.6, 2.6, 2.5

Three Reader Comments
• “It’s like watching a game with guys who used to play with you in high school; you feel like you should listen to what they say and care about what they are saying but they are so arrogant and often wrong that it is more hassle than it’s worth so you just stand up to go get a hot dog and watch the game from the concourse. You then proceed to write a run-on sentence describing the horrible experience.”
• “Drew Goodman and Jeff Huson are fair broadcasters, although their ‘analysis’ generally tends to be obvious and pedantic to those who know the game or follow the Rockies. Their enthusiasm, also, too often feels forced and over-amped. But they’re not bad.”
• “I’m getting angry just thinking about Huson… I’m kinda angry at you guys for bringing him up. You ruined Christmas.”

Notes
Sorry for ruining Christmas, guys.

***

27. Atlanta Braves
Broadcasters: Chip Caray and Joe Simpson
Ratings (Charisma/Analysis/Overall): 2.8, 2.6, 2.7

Three Reader Comments
• “Chip Caray… has gone out of his way to bash sabermetrics, mainly the use of OBP, many times before, both on air and on his Twitter account.”
• “Pales in comparison to the halcyon days of Joe and Boog Sciambi, who had a sort of odd couple charm and respect for one another.”
• “Let me be the 108th respondent to say it… fisted.”

Notes
The general sense from readers seems to be that Joe Simpson understands the game pretty well, and that his extended run with the team allows him to give historical context to certain events, players, etc. Caray has some supporters, although it seems difficult not to compare him (and unfairly so) with his father and grandfather.

***

26. Philadelphia Phillies
Broadcasters: Tom McCarthy, Chris Wheeler, and (sort of) Gary “Sarge” Matthews
Ratings (Charisma/Analysis/Overall): 2.6, 2.7, 2.7

Three Reader Comments
• “I remember watching all 19 innings of the Reds vs Phillies game last year on mute.”
• “Tom is fine. Sarge thinks that hitting is an important part of winning.”
• “Gary Matthews… must go. His splendid hats may stay.”

Notes
Philadelphia fans very clearly miss Harry Kalas, courtesy of whom they were treated to Excellence in Broadcasting for decades. Fans appear split on Matthews, which is generally the product of a stronger personality.

***

25. Toronto Blue Jays
Broadcasters: Buck Martinez and Pat Tabler
Ratings (Charisma/Analysis/Overall): 2.8, 2.7, 2.8

Three Reader Comments
• “The radio team, Jerry Howarth and Alan Ashby, would have easily been 5/5 in all categories.”
• “TABBY LOVES EM’ BIG AND STRONG.”
• “Buck Martinez’s coiffure = eighth world wonder.”

Notes
The Toronto TV broadcasters received the most votes of any team, at 414. Vin Scully’s Dodgers home broadcast was a distant second, with 322 ballots cast. It seems, generally, that Toronto fans much prefer the radio broadcast of Ashby and Howarth — and regard Martinez as probably a slightly above-average color (or, uh, colour) man doing play-by-play work.

***

24. Cleveland Indians
Broadcasters: Matt Underwood and Rick Manning
Ratings (Charisma/Analysis/Overall): 2.9, 2.9, 2.9

Three Two Reader Comments
• “I often turn on the radio while I watch.”
• “Rick Manning once said that it would be better to allow a solo home run than a double that could lead to a rally.”

Notes
A lack of enthusiasm seems to be the definitive quality of the Cleveland broadcast team — both in the booth itself and among the fans who we’ve asked to write about them.

***

23. Washington Nationals
Broadcasters: Bob Carpenter and F. P. Santangelo
Ratings (Charisma/Analysis/Overall): 2.8, 2.9, 2.9

Three Reader Comments
• “I am glad MASN dropped Rob Dibble. He was a train-wreck of old school analysis and tough guy mumbo jumbo. FP Santangelo — Dibble’s replacement — is a much more complete color commentator than Dibble was. He still saunters off into superfluous old school analysis too often for my tastes, but it seems clear from listening to him that he has at least given newfangled analysis a fair shake.”
• “Bob is an effective and accurate, but not exactly inspiring, play-by-play guy. F.P. is an excellent color broadcaster, in part because he’s that rare ex-player broadcaster who doesn’t spend all his time talking about himself (he talks about the guys he was teammates with instead).”
• “If they were a Nationals player they would be John Lannan.”

Notes
The general sense appears to be that this crew has something like “upside.” Perhaps if the team finished above .500, reader sentiment will change.

***

22. New York Yankees
Broadcasters: Michael Kay and Ken Singleton (and David Cone, John Flaherty, Al Leiter, and Paul O’Neill)
Ratings (Charisma/Analysis/Overall): 2.8, 2.8, 2.9

Three Reader Comments
• “[Cone’s] love of FanGraphs and statistical analysis brings a fresh POV.”
• “With the Yankees, it is all about who is along Michael Kay. If it’s Singleton, Leiter or Cone, Kay can be excused for his AM radio schtick. With Flaherty, the booth becomes an echo chamber for bad analysis. Paul O’Neill is a push, but they play videos of him breaking water coolers, which is a great plus.”
• “Hello from Australia, Carson!”

Notes
During the course of the season, there’ll generally be a brief Twitter freakout once every week or two because David Cone has mentioned FanGraphs during a Yankee game.

***

21. Arizona Diamondbacks
Broadcasters: Daron Sutton and Mark Grace
Ratings (Charisma/Analysis/Overall): 3.3, 2.7, 3.0

Three Reader Comments
• “Sutton likes to use sabermetrics, probably because it drives Grace crazy.”
• “They do have witty repartee at times.”
• “Thankfully, the radio team of Greg Schulte and Tom Candiotti is very good.”

Notes
There is some disagreement among respondents regarding the degree to which the D’backs broadcast team utitlizes sabermetric-type analysis. If I’m not mistaken, the Twitter feed for the pair is rather active and does certainly link to FanGraphs articles and research (including, literally, this morning).





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

177 Comments
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ToddM
10 years ago

No Tigers yet makes me think all of these broadcast teams must be terrible. If Rod Allen is on a broadcast team that’s better than yours, you have my pity.

glassSheets
10 years ago
Reply to  ToddM

No Reds yet is further proof of how bad the state of broadcasters is in MLB.

I’m kind of surprised Arizona is in the bottom third. I actually enjoy that crew. Hopefully Grace’s appearnaces on Fox Saturdays doesn’t bring down his ratings; I think he’s better with Sutton and on FSN. (at least for me who watches about a fourth of their games on Extra Innings).

Johnny Come Lately
10 years ago
Reply to  glassSheets

I watched a lot of AZ games last year with Grace and Sutton and thought they mostly did a nice job. Pretty entertaining, and while the analysis might be a little lacking, they’re not complete morons in this respect. The previous sentence is actually high praise for MLB broadcast teams.

David K
10 years ago
Reply to  glassSheets

I’m a Dbacks fan, and I agree that their TV crew is fairly entertaining most of the time. They did have to grow on me a bit, and I think part of that was Grace growing into the job as well. I have the MLB package so I watch a fair amount of other teams’ broadcasts, particularly the NL, but definitely the Tigers, White Sox, and Angels belong on this list ahead of the Dbacks (ahead, as in worse). I live in the LA area and have to suffer thru the lousy Angels broadcasting crew. The guys they had a few years ago were pretty good, but the crew they have now is sleep-inducing.

Colin
10 years ago
Reply to  ToddM

Seriously? Most Tigers fans love Rod and Mario. Further I remember on several occasions fans of other teams saying they thoroughly enjoyed the commentary Rod and Mario provided. Mario is that slick smooth play by play broadcaster who was made to do voice work and Rod is like having your grandpa do the color, which has a comforting quality to it.

ToddM
10 years ago
Reply to  Colin

Well, the fact that he’s still employed now makes sense to me.

David K
10 years ago
Reply to  Colin

Hmm, I give Tigers fans a bit less credit now 🙂

As a Dback fan, I had to listen to Rod Allen for a few years when he was in the booth there, and he was lousy. I’ve heard some of the Tiger broadcasts recently, and he hasn’t improved a bit.

ToddM
10 years ago
Reply to  ToddM

I have no problem with Mario. Rod Allen, however, is a clown. If you prefer your color man be a jester, more power to ya. I’d rather learn something interesting occasionally.

Colin
10 years ago
Reply to  ToddM

Rod Allen is there to entertain. I can learn things on my own or by reading this website among others. I want my baseball color people to entertain me.

RationalSportsFan
10 years ago
Reply to  ToddM

Agreed with Colin. For once-per-week national broadcasts I want a color man to give in-depth analysis. For the 162 game grind, I want an entertaining, humorous person who almost becomes like a predictable buddy.

David K
10 years ago
Reply to  ToddM

DO the two have to be mutually exclusive?

RationalSportsFan
10 years ago
Reply to  ToddM

Don’t have to be, but I prefer the latter over the former if I can only have one for 162 games. And, frankly, most color men can’t do both.

Nik
10 years ago
Reply to  ToddM

Rod Allen is great. Most love him other than a few jealous fans that didn’t get a chance to play a few games on the 84 team and Price and Dickerson are great too

byronmember
10 years ago
Reply to  ToddM

Rod Allen won me over with a few seemingly thin-air statements that were backed up by Fangraphs. Only one I remember was when he said Albuquerque had the best slider from an AL reliever, when sure enough, at that time, he had the best wSL/C in that category. I think he might actually know some stuff.

Biff
10 years ago
Reply to  ToddM

Amen. The more a person knows about baseball the more likely they are to not like Rod Allen. The Tigers wanted to dumb down for the audience and provide a professional cheerleader I guess. Rod is terrible.

Cecil
10 years ago
Reply to  Biff

Knowledgeable baseball people don’t look to color commentators to gain more baseball knowledge. They also don’t hold a vendetta and harass them on twitter either.

ToddM
10 years ago
Reply to  Biff

Let’s just say he’s polarizing, then. I’m glad not everyone likes that fool, he annoys the crap out of me.

Bread n Mustard
9 years ago
Reply to  ToddM

You only think Rod Allen is bad because you never heard Dave Sims (Mariners broadcaster). The guy is the definition of an idiot.