Here at FanGraphs, we spend a lot of time analyzing baseball. I flatter myself into believing that our analysis, in some cases, helps shape the way you consume the sport. Measured in this way, however, we fall far short of the influence that your local broadcasting choice has. We can adorn your brain waves for a handful of minutes every day, but every time you watch a game on TV, announcers get three hours to shape your vision and enjoyment of the sport.
In fact, I would venture that no group contributes more to your enjoyment and understanding of baseball than the most visited broadcasting crew. Despite that, it has been over four years since we last gathered a ranking of broadcasting groups. Over 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 create a comprehensive fan-based ranking of all TV broadcast crews.
When you read the section for your team or the teams you choose, you will find a link to a poll. This poll covers three categories, as well as an overall ranking. In addition, there is a separate space for any further comments you want to make. The final ranking of broadcast teams will be quantitative, but I will include relevant comments from this section in the writing of these rankings.
The “analysis” points cover the frequency and quality of a broadcast team’s discussion of baseball. Note does not mean this sabermetric or statistical analysis, although some broadcasting teams certainly excel in that area. Rather, it covers all the ways a broadcasting team tries to inform viewers about the players on the court and the game they are in.
Is a color commentator particularly adept at breaking down a hitter’s adjustments? It is excellent analysis. If a broadcaster mentions a player’s DRS, then use this number without context to explain why someone is a good or bad defender? It is poor analysis, despite the use of advanced calculations. The score for this category should represent how much you feel you are learning about baseball while watching the game.
The charisma score covers how much pleasure you get from listening to the advertisers. Does the stall’s camaraderie make you feel like you’re listening to a game with friends? Does a preacher’s sad story about his playing days put you in masks? Do you just simply enjoy listening to their stories? All this is included in this category.
“Coherence” points were the most difficult category to mention. It covers how well the broadcast explains the action on the pitch as it happens. Is play-by-play sharp and informative? Do the announcers keep viewers up to date with counting and game situation when discussing team strategy? When a strange situation arises, do they convey what happened and what it means for the two teams effectively?
The “total” score does not have to be an even weighting of each of the three categories above. It’s simply a measure of how much you enjoy watching a show. Some broadcasts stand out by emphasizing their strengths, and focusing on which qualities viewers enjoy the most. Others incorrectly emphasize weak points. All of this, and other factors that affect your experience while watching a broadcast booth, apply here. One note: try to separate the feelings you have about the team itself from this assessment. A club can have an excellent transmission even if the product on the court often disappoints, and vice versa.
The first set of ten surveys covers the teams of the NL and AL East divisions. Central and West will follow for the next two days. You are welcome to answer as many surveys as you want, as long as you feel that you have seen enough of the broadcast the last two years to have an informed opinion about it.
One last note: the unique challenges of broadcasting during the COVID-19 pandemic have affected the composition of several stalls. I have tried to list the latest information available for each broadcast team, but in some cases the mix of staff for 2021 may still be in flux, or I have otherwise made a mistake in making the list of contributors. If your enjoyment of a team is specifically conditioned by a single broadcaster whose status for next year is still unknown, you can mention it in the area provided for further comments in the survey.
Toronto Blue Jays
- Dan Shulman (play-by-play) and Buck Martinez (color) are the main pairing.
- Martinez (play-by-play) and Pat Tabler (color) are a secondary duo.
- Hazel Mae provides field-level reporting.
- Scott Garceau, Kevin Brown and Geoff Arnold shared game-by-game tasks in 2020.
- Ben McDonald and Mike Bordick exchanged color comments 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 delivered field reporting in 2020.
Tampa Bay Rays
- Dewayne Staats handles play-by-play duties.
- Brian Anderson handles color comments.
- Tricia Whitaker provides field-level reporting.
- Kevin Burkhardt occasionally provides game-by-game coverage.
Boston Red Sox
- Dave O’Brien handles duties for play.
- 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.
New York Yankees
- Michael Kay is the main commentator.
- Ken Singleton, Bob Lorenz and Ryan Ruocco also provide game-by-game commentary.
- David Cone, John Flaherty, Paul O’Neill and Ken Singleton handle color comments.
- Meredith Marakovits provides field-level reporting.
- Chip Caray handles play by play tasks.
- Jeff Francoeur is the lead color analyst.
- Tom Glavine provides additional color comments.
- Kelly Crull and Paul Byrd provide field-level reporting.
- Paul Severino works as a play-by-play advertiser.
- Todd Hollandsworth is the color commentator.
- Craig Minervini occasionally fills in play-by-play and also provides field-level reporting.
- Jessica Blaylock and Kelly Saco provide field-level reporting.
New York Mets
- Gary Cohen handles duties for play.
- Wayne Randazzo acts as a backup play-by-play advertiser.
- Keith Hernandez and Ron Darling provide color comments.
- Todd Zeile contributes with occasional color comments.
- Steve Gelbs provides field-level reporting.
Citizens of Washington
- Bob Carpenter handles duties for play.
- Dave Yageler works as a backup play-by-play advertiser.
- FP Santangelo provides color comments.
- Michael Morse contributes with occasional color comments.
- Alex Chappell provides field-level reporting.
- Tom McCarthy handles play for play tasks.
- John Kruk and Ben Davis provide color comments.
- Ruben Amaro and Jimmy Rollins occasionally give extra color comments.
- Gregg Murphy provides field-level reporting.