Radio Broadcast Crowdsourcing Results, Part 2: 20-11

In January, we at FanGraphs put out a call for radio broadcast ratings. The votes are now all in, and this week, we are releasing a compilation of those rankings, as well as selected commentary from each team’s responses.

As a refresher, our survey asked for scores in four areas. If you’d like a thorough explanation of them, you can read the introductory article, but I’ll also recap them briefly here. If you’d like to see the first chunk of ratings, those can be found here.

The “Analysis” score covers the frequency and quality of a broadcast team’s discussion of baseball. This isn’t limited to statistical analysis, and many of the booths that scored best excelled at explaining technical details of playing. This score represents how much listeners feel they learn about baseball by listening.

“Charisma” covers the amount of enjoyment voters derive from listening to the broadcasters fill space, which takes on many forms. The booths that scored best on charisma varied wildly, from former players recounting stories of their glory days to unintentional comedy and playful banter between long-term broadcast partners.

“Coherence” focuses on play-by-play, but it also covers how well broadcasters stay in tune with the game. The most coherent broadcasts strike a balance between telling stories and informing listeners of the current state of the game. That’s a tough balance to strike without the benefit of television, and many broadcasts that scored well on charisma did worse in terms of coherence.

Lastly, an overall score simply answers the question: on a scale from 1-10, how much do you enjoy this broadcast? It’s not an average of the other scores or anything other than how the broadcast makes you feel overall. It also covers anything else: sound quality, annoying or enjoyable ads, and any other features that can affect overall enjoyment.

A few notes: the comments I’m presenting alongside each team’s ratings have been lightly edited for clarity and aren’t meant to be exhaustive. The ratings do a better job of conveying the overall reader view of each broadcast team, but I’ve highlighted what each fanbase found to be the high points of their television crew so that prospective listeners can go in with an idea of what to expect. They will hopefully provide extra information without detracting from the ratings.

Some voters submitted comments that led me to believe they were rating their chosen team’s television broadcast. To the greatest extent possible. I’ve removed those votes. One team was the subject of, shall we say, suspicious voting patterns. I’ve attempted to remove the suspicious votes (a huge block of across-the-board 10s), but please do take the Marlins’ ratings with a grain of salt. Lastly, the Blue Jays have discontinued their radio broadcast for this year, as RJ McDaniel wrote about here. I’ve included their rating for posterity, but you won’t be able to hear that team this year. Also of note today, ratings for the White Sox broadcast take into account their hiring of Len Kasper. Without further ado, let’s get started.

20. Blue Jays

Toronto Blue Jays Radio Broadcast Ratings
Team Analysis Charisma Coherence Overall
Blue Jays 7.2 6.5 7.5 7.2

Selected Comments

  • The Blue Jays were one of the rare teams to feature two non-former players in the booth after Joe Siddall moved to the television side – something reminiscent of the glory days of Tom Cheek and Jerry Howarth. And it created a really smooth and professional broadcast for listeners.
  • My rating is solely for Wagner, who I like. I’m going to miss Wilner a lot, and am not optimistic about who they’re going to replace him with.
  • Fantastic pair to listen to, they bring great energy and play-by-play.

19. Diamondbacks

Arizona Diamondbacks Radio Broadcast Ratings
Team Analysis Charisma Coherence Overall
Diamondbacks 7.4 7.0 7.7 7.4

Selected Comments

  • This group isn’t the most easily excitable, but they’re knowledgeable, coherent and rock solid. Ferrin is tremendous and needs a greater opportunity — his pre/post work is often the best part of the broadcast.
  • All of them make listening to radio if I’m in traffic or at work a delight.
  • Couldn’t ask for better than (Tom) Candiotti.
  • Note: An earlier version of this article featured a comment about Bob Brenly, who covers the Diamondbacks on television.

18. Red Sox

Boston Red Sox Radio Broadcast Ratings
Team Analysis Charisma Coherence Overall
Red Sox 6.8 8.0 7.4 7.7

Selected Comments

  • Joe Castiglione is a gem! The rest is a meh-to-good churn. Bring back Dave O’Brien; he had real chemistry with Joe.
  • Listening to Castiglione’s accent is a balm for any homesick Bostonian. May not be the highest quality of analysis, but it’s one of the most enjoyable broadcasts to listen to.
  • Joe C. is a legend. I love the homerism and the fact that you can instantly tell the way the game, week or even season is going based on their commentary. Not afraid to rip managerial moves.
  • Merloni’s analysis is more good than bad, and he usually isn’t afraid to state hard truths about the home team.

17. Mariners

Seattle Mariners Radio Broadcast Ratings
Team Analysis Charisma Coherence Overall
Mariners 6.8 8.0 7.9 7.7

Selected Comments

  • Rizzs is now as much “the Voice of the Mariners” as Dave Niehaus was at his peak. The broadcast is a bit light on analysis, but Rizzs’ charisma with Goldsmith more than makes up for it.
  • Rick Rizzs clearly loves baseball and is a pro’s pro. I cannot get enough of the wacky energy and enthusiasm that Dave Sims brings for a sometimes hopeless baseball club.
  • They don’t always have the hottest analytical takes, but every time I tune in on the app, I know I’m in for a good broadcast.

16. White Sox

Chicago White Sox Radio Broadcast Ratings
Team Analysis Charisma Coherence Overall
White Sox 7.8 7.7 7.4 7.7

Selected Comments

  • [This is] based on my familiarity of Kasper and Jackson, but not, of course, as a team. They should be very good, and maybe occasionally awkward as they learn each other’s rhythm.
  • This response is aimed at Masur/Jackson from last year. I’ve always felt bad for Darrin because in his entire tenure with the White Sox, he’s never been paired with a traditional play-by-play guy. He started with Hawk Harrelson then moved to Ed Farmer, who was just as idiosyncratic as Hawk. He didn’t have much time to get fully acclimated to Andy Masur (for whom I also feel bad because he’s getting such a quick hook). It will be weird, but in a good way, to hear how Jackson and Len Kasper sound together.

15. Twins

Minnesota Twins Radio Broadcast Ratings
Team Analysis Charisma Coherence Overall
Twins 7.4 7.8 7.8 7.9

Selected Comments

  • Cory Provus is an absolute pro. Dan Gladden is solid but can slip into an Old School Baseball Man mode. Together, they make a solid crew that calls games rather straightforwardly but has rapport and can have fun with a “Dazzle Man” story from time to time.
  • I like the exchanges with Kris Atteberry in-game and when he covers for one of the others in the booth. He ups the analytical talk significantly and always tosses in some literary references that might fly over the head of some listeners, but that this fellow English lit major deeply appreciates.
  • Provus should be freed to call games on his own. He mixes traditional and modern stats pretty well, paints a clear picture of the game, and has a pleasant (if not singular) delivery and voice.

14. Marlins

Miami Marlins Radio Broadcast Ratings
Team Analysis Charisma Coherence Overall
Marlins 7.8 7.9 8.3 8.1

Selected Comments

  • I’m surprised the Marlins haven’t already traded Glenn Geffner like they trade their other stars.
  • Dave and Gep usually provide a depth of baseball knowledge missing from the TV broadcast, and provide fairly good insight on player performance for Marlins and opponents.
  • Van Horne is legendary in my circles for the multiple times that pop ups end up over the fence and long fly balls end up in the shortstop’s glove. His voice makes up for it, though.

13. Cubs

Chicago Cubs Radio Broadcast Ratings
Team Analysis Charisma Coherence Overall
Cubs 7.4 8.7 8.6 8.5

Selected Comments

  • I am a White Sox fan. I love Pat Hughes. That is all.
  • Coomer is kind of a buffoon in a lovable way.
  • Very good listen. Both have knowledge and are homers.
  • Pat and Ron have great rapport and they form a coherent broadcast, even if it doesn’t dive too deep into analytics. I wish they did all nine innings.

12. Astros

Houston Astros Radio Broadcast Ratings
Team Analysis Charisma Coherence Overall
Astros 8.3 8.3 8.5 8.5

Selected Comments

  • Sparks is still, after all these years, hit or miss at play-by-play, but his energy/excitement makes up for that. You don’t want Sparky calling a complex play in a routine game, but you absolutely want him calling a titanic home run in the playoffs. Some of his calls from the postseason, especially 2017, are burned into my brain.
  • Sparky and Ford do a great job of providing the listener an in-person feel like they are at the ballpark while also sprinkling old school thought processes in with a lot of the new sabermetric terms. The blending of those produces a broadcast that helps the fan, casual to advanced, enjoy a night of listening to a baseball game.
  • Robert Ford has a great radio voice and high energy that is captivating. Steve Sparks provides solid analysis and humorous comedic relief. Great duo.

11. Cleveland

Cleveland Radio Broadcast Ratings
Team Analysis Charisma Coherence Overall
Cleveland 7.4 8.8 8.4 8.5

Selected Comments

  • Hamilton is an institution in Cleveland and has, for my money, the best home run call in the game. His analysis definitely does not rely on advanced metrics — he spent most of 2016 saying Mike Napoli should get MVP votes — but he doesn’t outright deride advanced analytics on the broadcast very often. He has great rapport with Rosie, who’s about as generic as a broadcaster gets, and makes every game an entertaining experience.
  • Tom Hamilton’s enthusiasm is infectious, but occasionally over the top or misplaced.
  • Tom Hamilton is one of the voices I love to listen to as I am driving along.
  • More old-school than I typically prefer, but Hamilton alone makes up for a lack of analytical interest with his biting wit.

If there’s one trend to these radio ratings, it’s that radio broadcast teams are excellent overall. The 24th-ranked radio broadcast would land in the top half of TV broadcasts, and eight of today’s 10 middle teams would have landed in the top 10 overall. Charisma continues to be a strong suit; there are institutions aplenty in this group, and one of my personal great joys in listening to radio broadcasts is hearing local accents come through. You can’t go wrong with any of these broadcasts, a strong testament to the state of radio announcing today.

Once again, here’s a list of all 20 teams whose results have been released so far:

Radio Broadcast Ratings
Rank Team Analysis Charisma Coherence Overall
30 Yankees 3.7 5.7 4.0 4.6
29 Rockies 4.6 4.3 5.6 4.9
28 Angels 5.5 4.9 5.6 5.3
27 Dodgers 5.8 6.1 5.7 5.8
26 Pirates 5.9 6.0 6.3 6.0
25 Cardinals 5.9 7.0 5.1 6.4
24 Orioles 6.4 6.5 6.9 6.6
23 Reds 6.5 7.0 6.9 6.7
22 Royals 6.4 6.6 6.3 6.8
21 Braves 6.4 7.0 7.3 6.9
20 Blue Jays 7.2 6.5 7.5 7.2
19 Diamondbacks 7.4 7.0 7.7 7.4
18 Red Sox 6.8 8.0 7.4 7.7
17 Mariners 6.8 8.0 7.9 7.7
16 White Sox 7.8 7.7 7.4 7.7
15 Twins 7.4 7.8 7.8 7.9
14 Marlins 7.8 7.9 8.3 8.1
13 Cubs 7.4 8.7 8.6 8.5
12 Astros 8.3 8.3 8.5 8.5
11 Cleveland 7.4 8.8 8.4 8.5

Ben is a writer at FanGraphs. He can be found on Twitter @_Ben_Clemens.

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3 years ago

Pat Hughes not being in the top 10 is a brutal blow to the credibility of this list. Very surprised to see 13th.

3 years ago
Reply to  baxtercherry

I mean – It’s a crowdsource.. it’s about opinion, not credibility.
Look at all the buffoon opinions out there. Not surprising some would slip into sporting world.