Crowdsourcing MLB Broadcasters: Introduction

Committed baseball fans spend upwards of three or four hours per day during the season watching (or listening to) their favorite team play — and watching, via Extra Innings or MLB.TV, a number of other games outside their respective television markets. Given the interest in the sport, it’s not surprising to find entire websites (like the present one, for instance) dedicated to analyzing the performances of players, front offices, etc.

As most fans will agree, however, it’s frequently difficult to separate the experience of watching this or that team from the broadcasters whose job it is to narrate and comment upon the action. Residents of Wisconsin would be hard-pressed to imagine Brewer baseball without Bob Uecker’s constant celebration of beer and cured meat; Dodger fans have a similar affection for the aged and ageless Vin Scully; Cubs broadcaster Len Kasper is one of a growing number of announcers who’ve embraced sabermetrics; and White Sox TV play-by-play man Hawk Harrelson is… another person employed in this capacity.

It’s not uncommon to come across exasperated tweets — or entire websites — dedicated to censuring the sometimes poor behavior of broadcasters. But never (so far as I know of, at least) has an attempt been made to put a grade on each of the league’s 30 television broadcast teams. In this post, we’ll begin to attempt just such a thing.

Back in August, I asked the readers of FanGraphs to help identify the broadcasters most frequently found in each of the 30 MLB teams’ booths. Now that we’ve reached the end of the season — have reached, even, the end of the Arizona Fall League — it makes sense to begin this experiment. Whatever information comes of it will likely prove valuable for the One Night Only game previews found here during the regular season.

For each television broadcasting team (and, if the experiment goes well, for each radio team, too), the reader will be asked to grade said team on a scale of 1-5, with 5 being highest, according to the following criteria: Charisma, Analysis, and then Overall.

Charisma is, essentially, the personal charm of the announcers in question. Are they actively entertaining? merely solid? worse than that? Analysis might be more of the scouting or more of the sabermetric variety, but ought to be grounded in reason either way. The overall rating is the overall quality of the broadcast team — nor need this be a mere average of the previous two ratings. Uecker, for example, provides almost nothing in the way of analysis, and yet certainly rates well overall, merely by force of personality. Finally, there’s a box of text in which readers can elaborate upon their grades, need be.

Below is our first attempt at this — for the Arizona Diamondbacks television broadcast team of (typically) Daron Sutton and Mark Grace. Subsequent attempts will appear in the Offseason Notes column found in these pages (most) every week day.

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Carson Cistulli has just published a book of aphorisms called Spirited Ejaculations of a New Enthusiast.

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