Crowdsourcing MLB Radio Broadcasters, Part 2: The Central

Over the course of this offseason, FanGraphs is compiling a crowdsourced ranking of our readers’ favorite broadcasts. Last month, we announced the results of the crowdsourced vote on TV broadcasts. Now we are once again asking for your help, this time for each team’s radio broadcast.

The radio broadcasts will follow the same general format as our earlier TV broadcast surveys. 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 radio 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 listeners 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 listeners 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? I expect that this category will prove more divisive in radio than it did in the TV ratings, because play-by-play announcers carry more weight when there’s no visual component.

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 listening to a broadcast. Some broadcasts excel at emphasizing their strengths, focusing on whichever qualities their listeners most enjoy. Others mistakenly emphasize weak points. All of this, and any other factors that influence your experience while listening to 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.

This set of 10 surveys will cover the AL and NL Central. Part I, concerning the teams of the East, can be found here. The last 10 teams will follow tomorrow. Please feel free to respond to as many of the surveys as you’d like, provided you have listened to the broadcast often enough in the last two years that you feel you can provide 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. Also, if I incorrectly identified a team’s main announcers, please let me know in the comments and I’ll correct it.

AL CENTRAL

Cleveland Baseball Team

  • Tom Hamilton handles play-by-play duties
  • Jim Rosenhaus handles additional play-by-play duties and provides color commentary

Click here to rate Cleveland’s radio broadcast team.

Kansas City Royals

  • Denny Matthews handles play-by-play duties
  • Steve Stewart and Steve Physioc provide additional play-by-play commentary
  • Jeff Montgomery provides color commentary
  • Ryan Lefebvre appears for select games

Click here to rate Kansas City’s radio broadcast team.

Detroit Tigers

  • Dan Dickerson handles play-by-play duties
  • Jim Price provides color commentary

Click here to rate Detroits’ radio broadcast team.

Minnesota Twins

  • Corey Provus handles play-by-play duties
  • Dan Gladden also handles play-by-play duties and provides color commentary
  • Kris Atteberry appears for select games

Click here to rate Minnesota’s radio broadcast team.

Chicago White Sox

  • Len Kasper handles play-by-play duties
  • Darrin Jackson provides color commentary
  • Andy Masur provided color commentary in 2020
  • Note: As Kasper has not yet called any games for the White Sox, this rating will unavoidably be confusing!

Click here to rate Chicago’s radio broadcast team.

NL CENTRAL

Milwaukee Brewers

  • Jeff Levering handles play-by-play duties
  • Lane Grindle provides color commentary
  • Bob Uecker is Bob Uecker

Click here to rate Milwaukee’s radio broadcast team.

St. Louis Cardinals

  • Mike Shannon handles play-by-play duties for home games
  • John Rooney provides additional play-by-play commentary
  • Rick Horton handles play-by-play duties for road games
  • Mike Claiborne appears for select games

Click here to rate St. Louis’s radio broadcast team.

Chicago Cubs

  • Pat Hughes handles play-by-play duties
  • Ron Coomer provides color commentary
  • Zach Zaidman provides additional play-by-play commentary

Click here to rate Chicago’s radio broadcast team.

Pittsburgh Pirates

  • Greg Brown and Joe Block handle play-by-play duties
  • Bob Walk and John Wehner provide color commentary
  • Kevin Young, Matt Capps, and Michael McKenry appear for select games

Click here to rate Pittsburgh’s radio broadcast team.

Cincinnati Reds

  • Tommy Thrall handles play-by-play duties
  • Jeff Brantley provides color commentary
  • Danny Graves appears for select games

Click here to rate Cincinnati’s radio 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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That’s four teams in the Centrals alone — Minnesota, Pittsburgh and both Chicagos — with former Brewers broadcasters.