Crowdsourcing MLB Broadcasters, Part 1: The East

Here at FanGraphs, we devote a lot of time to analyzing baseball. I flatter myself to think that our analysis, in some cases, helps shape the way you consume the sport. Measured in that way, however, we fall far short of the influence that your local broadcast of choice exerts. We may grace your brainwaves for a handful of minutes every day, but every time you watch a game on TV, the announcers are granted three hours to shape your view and enjoyment of the sport.

In fact, I would venture that no one group contributes more to your enjoyment and understanding of baseball than your most frequently-viewed broadcast crew. Despite that, it has been over four years since we last compiled a ranking of broadcast groups. Over the course of the next three days, we will post a series of surveys, one for each major league franchise. We will then use the results of these surveys to compile a comprehensive fan-based ranking of all television broadcast crews.

When you peruse the section for your team or teams of choice, you will find a link to a poll. That poll covers three categories, as well as an overall ranking. In addition, there is a separate space for any additional comments you would like to make. The eventual ranking of broadcast teams will be quantitative, but I will include relevant comments from this section in my writing of those rankings.

The “Analysis” score covers the frequency and quality of a broadcast team’s discussion of baseball. Of note, this doesn’t mean sabermetric or statistical analysis, though some broadcast teams certainly excel in that area. Rather, it covers all the ways in which a broadcast team attempts to inform viewers about the players on the field and the game situation they find themselves in.

Is a color commentator particularly adept at breaking down a hitter’s adjustments? That’s excellent analysis. Does a broadcaster mention a player’s DRS, then use that number without context to explain why someone is a good or bad defender? That’s bad analysis, despite its use of advanced metrics. This category’s score should represent how much you feel you learn about baseball while you watch the game.

The “Charisma” score covers the amount of enjoyment you derive from listening to the announcers. Does the booth’s camaraderie make you feel like you’re listening to a game with friends? Does an announcer’s wistful recounting of his playing days leave you in stitches? Do you find yourself just downright having fun listening to their stories? All of that is contained in this category.

The “Coherence” score was the most difficult category to name. It covers how well the broadcast explains the action on the field as it happens. Is the play-by-play crisp and informative? Do the announcers keep viewers abreast of the count and game situation in discussing team strategy? When a strange situation comes up, do they convey what happened and what it means for the two teams effectively?

The “Overall” score does not need to be an even weighting of each of the three categories above. It is simply a measure of how much you enjoy watching a broadcast. Some broadcasts excel at emphasizing their strengths, focusing on whichever qualities their viewers most enjoy. Others mistakenly emphasize weak points. All of this, and any other factors that influence your experience while watching a broadcast booth, apply here. One note: please do try to separate any feelings you have about the team itself from this rating. A club can have an excellent broadcast even if the product on the field often disappoints, and vice versa.

The first set of 10 surveys covers the teams of the NL and AL East divisions. The Central and West will follow over the next two days. Please feel free to respond to as many surveys you like, so long as you feel you have watched enough of the broadcast in the past two years to have an informed opinion about it.

One final note: the unique challenges of broadcasting during the COVID-19 pandemic have affected the composition of several booths. I have endeavored to list the most current information available for each broadcast team, but in some cases the personnel mix for 2021 may still be in flux, or I may have otherwise erred in compiling the list of contributors. If your enjoyment of a team is particularly contingent on a single broadcaster whose status for next year is as of yet unknown, please mention that in the space provided for additional comments in the survey.

AL EAST

Toronto Blue Jays

  • Dan Shulman (play-by-play) and Buck Martinez (colour) are the main pairing.
  • Martinez (play-by-play) and Pat Tabler (colour) are a secondary duo.
  • Hazel Mae provides field-level reporting.

Click here to rate Toronto’s television broadcast team.

Baltimore Orioles

  • Scott Garceau, Kevin Brown, and Geoff Arnold shared play-by-play duties in 2020.
  • Ben McDonald and Mike Bordick alternated color commentary in 2020.
  • Gary Thorne (play-by-play) and Jim Palmer (color) will likely return in 2021, along with Jim Hunter as a fill-in play-by-play commentator.
  • Melanie Newman and Brett Hollander provided field-level reporting in 2020.

Click here to rate Baltimore’s television broadcast team.

Tampa Bay Rays

  • Dewayne Staats handles play-by-play duties.
  • Brian Anderson handles color commentary.
  • Tricia Whitaker provides field-level reporting.
  • Kevin Burkhardt occasionally provides play-by-play coverage.

Click here to rate Tampa Bay’s television broadcast team.

Boston Red Sox

  • Dave O’Brien handles play-by-play duties.
  • Jerry Remy and Dennis Eckersley combine for color commentary.
  • Tom Caron occasionally provides play-by-play coverage.
  • Guerin Austin and Jahmai Webster provide field-level reporting.

Click here to rate Boston’s television broadcast team.

New York Yankees

  • Michael Kay is the main play-by-play commentator.
  • Ken Singleton, Bob Lorenz, and Ryan Ruocco also provide play-by-play commentary.
  • David Cone, John Flaherty, Paul O’Neill, and Ken Singleton handle color commentary.
  • Meredith Marakovits provides field-level reporting.

Click here to rate New York’s television broadcast team.

NL EAST

Atlanta Braves

  • Chip Caray handles play-by-play duties.
  • Jeff Francoeur is the lead color analyst.
  • Tom Glavine provides additional color commentary.
  • Kelly Crull and Paul Byrd provide field-level reporting.

Click here to rate Atlanta’s television broadcast team.

Miami Marlins

  • Paul Severino serves as the play-by-play announcer.
  • Todd Hollandsworth is the color commentator.
  • Craig Minervini occasionally fills in on play-by-play and also provides field-level reporting.
  • Jessica Blaylock and Kelly Saco provide field-level reporting.

Click here to rate Miami’s television broadcast team.

New York Mets

  • Gary Cohen handles play-by-play duties.
  • Wayne Randazzo serves as a backup play-by-play announcer.
  • Keith Hernandez and Ron Darling provide color commentary.
  • Todd Zeile contributes occasional color commentary.
  • Steve Gelbs provides field-level reporting.

Click here to rate New York’s television broadcast team.

Washington Nationals

  • Bob Carpenter handles play-by-play duties.
  • Dave Jageler serves as a backup play-by-play announcer.
  • F.P. Santangelo provides color commentary.
  • Michael Morse contributes occasional color commentary.
  • Alex Chappell provides field-level reporting.

Click here to rate Washington’s television broadcast team.

Philadelphia Phillies

  • Tom McCarthy handles play-by-play duties.
  • John Kruk and Ben Davis provide color commentary.
  • Ruben Amaro and Jimmy Rollins provide occasional additional color commentary.

Click here to rate Philadelphia’s television broadcast team.





Ben is a contributor to FanGraphs. A lifelong Cardinals fan, he got his start writing for Viva El Birdos. He can be found on Twitter @_Ben_Clemens.

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Cave Dameron
Member
Cave Dameron

Even though he’s not in the East, I think Thom Brennaman deserves to be recognized for his signature commentary in the Red capitol of the world, as there’s a drive into deep left field by Castellanos and that’ll be a home run. And so that’ll make it a 4-0 ballgame.

JayTeam
Member
Member
JayTeam

Brennaman resigned after being suspended for his signature hot mic comment.

Cave Dameron
Member
Cave Dameron

I don’t think he knows if he’ll ever put on the headset again.