Radio Broadcast Crowdsourcing Results, Part 3: 10-1

In January, we at FanGraphs put out a call for radio broadcast ratings. Over the past few days, we’ve released a compilation of those rankings, as well as selected commentary from each team’s responses. This is the last installment of that compilation.

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 rest of our results, those can be found here and 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. Without further ado, let’s get started.

10. Tigers

Detroit Tigers Radio Broadcast Ratings
Team Analysis Charisma Coherence Overall
Tigers 8.2 8.4 8.1 8.6

Selected Comments

  • Jim Price sometimes falls down a rabbit hole of old-timeyness and old war stories of being a journeyman catcher, but his folksiness and charm make up for it. He also has what feels like a preternatural ability to predict strike-em-out, throw-em-out situations.
  • Dan Dickerson is a student of the game and does a great job weaving in sabermetrics in a way non-statheads can understand. He’s even gotten Price on board over the years. Aesthetically, few things are more pleasing than a Dickerson home run call, though if the opposing team makes a great play he’s just as likely to get enthusiastic about it — truly a fan of the game.
  • I get the sense Dickerson is unknown outside of Detroit, and he might be the most under-appreciated broadcaster in the country. Jim Price is a lovable buffoon.
  • Listening to Dan and Jim taught me more about the game than any other resource. I enjoy listening to them discuss the game and the players even when the Tigers are losing (which we all know has been often in the last half decade or so).

9. Athletics

Oakland Athletics Radio Broadcast Ratings
Team Analysis Charisma Coherence Overall
Athletics 8.3 8.5 8.7 8.6

Selected Comments

  • I like that that A’s announcers tell stories. You feel like you are in a conversation with friends.
  • This rating is really for Korach. I think he is informative, his descriptions are detailed and his calls of dramatic/important moments are superb — overall excellent.
  • They don’t quite get sabermetrics, but try their best to use them and still share them to viewers who do get them.
  • These guys are great together and consistently make listening to an A’s game fun. They have their A’s history down cold.

8. Padres

San Diego Padres Radio Broadcast Ratings
Team Analysis Charisma Coherence Overall
Padres 8.2 8.9 8.2 8.6

Selected Comments

  • Jesse Agler is a terrific announcer and carries this broadcast.
  • (Ted) Leitner and Agler are a great team. The tempo, stories (Leitner), and analysis (Agler) make it an enjoyable listen every night. They have great rapport and stylistically balance out the other’s strengths/weaknesses.
  • All three guys (Leitner, Agler, and Tony Gwynn Jr.) bring their own perspectives, which really makes it an enjoyable listen. Each is different from each other but mesh really well.
  • They make the game fun. They’re homers, but with objective analysis.

7. Phillies

Philadelphia Phillies Radio Broadcast Ratings
Team Analysis Charisma Coherence Overall
Phillies 7.7 9.0 8.3 8.7

Selected Comments

  • Scott Franzke and Larry Andersen are still undisputedly the better of the pairings but Kevin Frandsen has gotten much better. It’s hard to beat Franzke and Andersen’s rapport, though.
  • Franzke is a true professional and does a great job painting the picture of the action, but with plenty of ability to make the most of Andersen’s folksy banter and riffing.
  • They get pretty loopy for those late night west coast games but overall are entertaining, and not afraid to call out the Phillies for poor play.

6. Nationals

Washington Nationals Radio Broadcast Ratings
Team Analysis Charisma Coherence Overall
Nationals 8.4 8.9 9.3 9.1

Selected Comments

  • Charlie Slowes and Dave Jageler have been on the call basically since the Expos moved to DC, which gives them a unique perspective on the team’s history. While I may not listen to them for their analysis, there are few radio broadcasters I’d rather have narrating a baseball game.
  • The two have excellent chemistry together. Both ably handle play-by-play and color duties as they switch off every three innings. Some added fluency with advanced metrics would be nice, but their overall broadcast is like a well-salted meal. Any more, and the flavor would be off.
  • Charlie and Dave are a great team. Charlie is the more exciting play-by-play guy – he has a great game calling voice and can be very effectively dramatic – but Dave is no slouch on PBP. Dave is a very astute color commentator, and is pretty good about using, and explaining as needed, more cutting edge stats. They both have good senses of humor, and obviously enjoy the hell out of working together, which makes it just a pleasure to hear them call a game.

5. Rangers

Texas Rangers Radio Broadcast Ratings
Team Analysis Charisma Coherence Overall
Rangers 8.7 9.1 9.4 9.2

Selected Comments

  • Eric Nadel is amazing. He understands the balance of clear game calling, when to pause, and how to entertain.
  • Nadel is the quintessential talismanic radio broadcaster. He’s been doing this for the Rangers for so long it’s hard to imagine anyone else doing it, and he’s still sharp. I don’t mean to step over Matt Hicks, as he is also good, but Nadel is rightfully synonymous with Rangers baseball.
  • Sure, a little more analytically-inclined commentary would help, but Nadel is in the inner-circle of radio voices that are the soundtrack of summer for a fanbase. He and Hicks are individually excellent and have good chemistry. The young Jared Sandler is also a great voice and great mind when he steps in for Nadel.

4. Giants

San Francisco Giants Radio Broadcast Ratings
Team Analysis Charisma Coherence Overall
Giants 8.7 9.3 9.2 9.2

Selected Comments

  • When I got MLB.TV for the first time, I would stay up late for two games: Dodgers home games so I could hear Vin Scully, and Giants games so I could hear Jon Miller. Miller has a perfect baseball voice and perfect baseball charisma. I don’t think anyone in the sport on TV or radio does it better than him.
  • I hate the Giants, but I love Miller. Smooth, clear, apropos, and funny. The other folks do a good job, too.
  • The classic voices of my childhood. To hear Miller and Dave Flemming is to experience a Proustian reverie in which the baseball present mingles with the baseball past and all Giants history bursts aflame in a single cry of, “Adios, pelota!”
  • Miller is absurdly charismatic and very knowledgeable, but prone to letting his goofiness take control of the broadcast when he’s doing color. Which is sort of great, love Jon being a weirdo, but — especially when the game or team sucks — it does sometimes turn into the Jon Miller Show. (This is only when someone else is holding down PBP; as a PBP guy, Miller is the consummate professional.)

3. Mets

New York Mets Radio Broadcast Ratings
Team Analysis Charisma Coherence Overall
Mets 8.9 9.4 9.5 9.3

Selected Comments

  • Howie Rose is a national treasure and the grades are entirely for him. Wayne Randazzo started off a bit grating but has come into his own over the past year – but don’t think he could lead a booth nearly as well as the legend.
  • Play-by-play is always very clear, and while the analysis is not terribly advanced, it is still far beyond the old cliches and all the members are legitimately funny and entertaining.
  • Rose’s increasing tendency toward curmudgeonly rants as he ages is the only real blemish on this extremely well-run and professional booth featuring what’s generally the best play-by-play in baseball.

2. Rays

Tampa Bay Rays Radio Broadcast Ratings
Team Analysis Charisma Coherence Overall
Rays 9.1 9.2 9.5 9.3

Selected Comments

  • Dave Wills is a (slightly) less loud version of Cleveland’s Tom Hamilton, and his signature “Swiiiiing and a miss! Heeee struck him out!” call evokes a Pavlovian response in Rays fans. Andy is a bit less extreme but plenty animated. They excel in old-school analysis: you won’t hear any advanced stats, but there’s plenty of scouting, comments on BP, and interviews to keep you informed.
  • It’s enjoyable listening, they make me feel like I’m part of the game. During slow play or slack times they keep me engaged by making me feel like I’m sitting in the stands having a conversation with my friends.
  • Neil Solondz, who does interview and pre/post game shows, is wonderful.
  • Fun for a Yankee fan to listen to when they play Tampa. Entertaining guys and true fans of the game.

1. Brewers

Milwaukee Brewers Radio Broadcast Ratings
Team Analysis Charisma Coherence Overall
Brewers 8.8 9.6 9.0 9.3

Selected Comments

  • Bob Uecker gets the only “10” for charisma I’m awarding.
  • All three are the best in the business. Brewer baseball on the radio has been soundtrack of my summer for my entire life. Lane Grindle and Jeff Levering are great compliments to Uke.
  • The fact I can rate them an 8 in ‘Coherence’ with Bob in the booth (and I love Uecker’s stories) just shows how good of a job Levering and Grindle do at holding the broadcast together.
  • The Brewers radio team is excellent even if Uke has lost a little off his fastball. I only wish the Brewer’s farm system was as good at turning out prospects as the organization is at turning out broadcasters.
  • Uecker has been the voice of summer in Wisconsin for generations. He is a state icon and legend. Bob is worth listening to even when the team is bad or just getting blasted that night—heck, he might even be more fun on those occasions!

The upstart Rays team made it close, but in the end, Bob Uecker and the Brewers radio team received the highest overall ranking. That’s emblematic of this top tier of broadcasts; with an average charisma score of nine out of 10, they’re all wildly enjoyable listens. The Rays are the only radio team to hit nine or higher in analysis, and radio’s lighter emphasis on analysis has been a recurring theme in these rankings, but that’s a small price to pay for the dulcet tones of classic radio voices.

Here is a sortable list of all 30 teams:

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
10 Tigers 8.2 8.4 8.1 8.6
9 Athletics 8.3 8.5 8.7 8.6
8 Padres 8.2 8.9 8.2 8.6
7 Phillies 7.7 9.0 8.3 8.7
6 Nationals 8.4 8.9 9.3 9.1
5 Rangers 8.7 9.1 9.4 9.2
4 Giants 8.7 9.3 9.2 9.2
3 Mets 8.9 9.4 9.5 9.3
2 Rays 9.1 9.2 9.5 9.3
1 Brewers 8.8 9.6 9.0 9.3

Lastly, I’ve compiled a sortable list of each team’s overall TV and radio broadcast scores. Given that the two aren’t necessarily graded on the same scale, I’ve included both the numerical and ordinal values of each broadcast:

Consolidated Broadcast Ratings
Team Radio Rating Radio Rank TV Rating TV Rank Better Rating Better Rank
Yankees 4.6 30 6 18 TV TV
Rockies 4.9 29 4.5 29 Radio Tie
Angels 5.3 28 7.1 14 TV TV
Dodgers 5.8 27 8.5 3 TV TV
Pirates 6.0 26 5.2 25 Radio TV
Cardinals 6.4 25 5.8 21 Radio TV
Orioles 6.6 24 6.6 15 TV TV
Reds 6.7 23 5.8 22 Radio TV
Royals 6.8 22 5.9 20 Radio TV
Braves 6.9 21 4.9 27 Radio Radio
Blue Jays 7.2 20 7.7 9 TV TV
Diamondbacks 7.4 19 5.7 23 Radio Radio
Red Sox 7.7 18 6.5 16 Radio TV
Mariners 7.7 17 7.3 11 Radio TV
White Sox 7.7 16 8.5 2 TV TV
Twins 7.9 15 7.3 12 Radio TV
Marlins 8.1 14 6.3 17 Radio Radio
Cubs 8.5 13 8.4 4 Radio TV
Astros 8.5 12 7.1 13 Radio Radio
Cleveland 8.5 11 6 19 Radio Radio
Tigers 8.6 10 3.5 30 Radio Radio
Athletics 8.6 9 7.5 10 Radio Radio
Padres 8.6 8 8.3 6 Radio TV
Phillies 8.7 7 5.5 24 Radio Radio
Nationals 9.1 6 5.2 26 Radio Radio
Rangers 9.2 5 4.5 28 Radio Radio
Giants 9.2 4 8.2 7 Radio Radio
Mets 9.3 3 9.4 1 TV TV
Rays 9.3 2 7.7 8 Radio Radio
Brewers 9.3 1 8.4 5 Radio Radio

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

Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
2 years ago

I’m sorry, John and Suzyn are much better than dead last (this is obviously not a critique of the piece, but of the voters).

2 years ago
Reply to  seanokula16

I mostly agree, until i saw the categories “analysis” and “coherence” which probably are the two worst things you could grade that pairing on, haha, but charisma was respectable. If one of these qualifications was “tonal quality” John Sterling is easily top 5, (guy has muscle relaxant capability sometimes, even on ad reads) but Suzyn’s grating tendencies would bring them down to average at best there, too. It’s hate-to-love, for me, but that’s better than the other way around.