Ranking Baseball’s Center-Field Camera Shots (2014 Update)

Three years ago, in these same electronic pages, the present author published a ranking of all 30 clubs’ center-field broadcast camera angles. The immediate purpose: to create a reference for anyone with access to MLB.TV, MLB Extra Innings, or some other manner of game video, so that he or she might be better equipped to choose the ideal feed.

What follows is the product of an almost identical exercise, except updated to account for more recently adopted center-field cameras (or, in the case of Miami, more recently constructed ballparks).

In general, cameras have been assessed according to the ability with which they document the pitcher-batter encounter. More specifically, I’ve utilized three guiding criteria, as follow:

  • Shot Angle
    In which more central and lower is generally preferred.
  • Shot Size
    In which closer up and not longer is generally preferred.
  • Whim
    In which the author’s own intuition has been utilized.

In what follows, I’ve embedded screencaps for all 30 of the league’s center-field cameras, broken down into three categories: Bottom Five, Top Ten, and The Rest. In every case, I’ve used images featuring only right-handed pitchers — so that the orientation of that pitcher’s body might least distort the perception of the camera angle. Furthermore, I’ve attempted to identify feeds from regional broadcasts — as opposed to national broadcasts, which might utilize a different feed altogether.

The reader will note that straight-on shots constitute the most highly ranked of the center-field cameras. This makes sense, of course: straight-on shots portray lefties and righties in the same way and document pitch movement in a way that off-set cameras can’t. The reader will also note that a small collection of notes and observations appears at the very bottom of this post.

Finally, if the reader finds that I’ve erred in any of the screen captures here, don’t hesitate to make note of same below.

Bottom Five
30. Colorado Rockies

Colorado

29. Milwaukee Brewers

Milwaukee

28. Seattle Mariners

Seattle

27. Cincinnati Reds

Cincinnati

26. Oakland Athletics

Oakland

*****

Top Ten
10. Chicago White Sox

Chicago AL

9. Toronto Blue Jays

Toronto

8. Minnesota Twins

Minnesota

7. Baltimore Orioles

Baltimore

6. Tampa Bay Rays

Tampa Bay

5. St Louis Cardinals

St. Louis

4. Boston Red Sox

Boston

3. Miami Marlins

Miami

2. Atlanta Braves

Atlanta

1. Pittsburgh Pirates

Pittsburgh

*****

The Rest (Click to Embiggen)
Arizona Diamondbacks

Arizona

Chicago Cubs

Chicago NL

Cleveland Indians

Cleveland

Detroit Tigers

Detroit

Houston Astros

Houston

Kansas City Royals

Kansas City

Los Angeles Angels

LA AL

Los Angeles Dodgers

LA NL

New York Mets

New York NL

New York Yankees

New York AL

Philadelphia Phillies

Philadelphia

San Diego Padres

San Diego

San Francisco Giants

San Francisco

Texas Rangers

Texas

Washington Nationals

Washington

*****

Notes and Observations

  • In the original edition of this same thing from three years ago, Pittsburgh‘s camera angle was ranked last among all 30 clubs. At the beginning of the 2012 season, however, the Pirates introduced the angle one sees above — and which is probably the best in all the majors now.
  • Three years ago — and certainly for at least some of the time in between — Minnesota featured a straight-on camera angle that was also alarmingly high. The angle one sees above here was utilized frequently for replays, however. The author can’t confirm that the Twins now employ the more reasonable angle depicted here during the entirety of their current broadcasts.
  • The reader might note that Baltimore was ranked ahead of Boston on this same thing from three years ago and now ranks behind them — despite neither club having perceptibly altered their camera angle. I have no strong argument for the alteration except that (a) Boston’s camera appears to be more appealing now and also (b) a foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of you-know-whats.
  • On windy days, Kansas City will sometimes employ an even more dramatically off-center camera angle, so that the spray from their Storied Fountains doesn’t interfere with the broadcast.
  • It’s not infrequently the case that visiting clubs will utilize a different center-field camera than the home club. This is certainly the case with Atlanta, for example: visiting clubs will sometimes (always?) use the off-center camera angle also located in center field.



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The Stranger
Guest
The Stranger
2 years 1 month ago

Is it wrong that I take pride in the fact that my team (and therefore the broadcast I watch most) is highly-rated?

Also, does anybody else get frustrated by broadcasts that don’t include a pitch location graphic? I realize that debating whether a pitch really caught the outside corner is a traditional way for broadcast teams to kill time between pitches, but that little rectangle is super-helpful.

Reddickulous
Guest
Reddickulous
2 years 1 month ago

I don’t like the rectangle, and I’m glad it is not a fixture of the Oakland A’s broadcast.

It is interesting to watch on away-broadcasts sometimes, I’ll agree, but in general I find that I can’t help buy move my eyes that way, meaning I’m not watching other things that are going on.

I like to be able to see a pitch enter the zone and make up my own mind about if it’s a ball or strike, and not reflexively look to the side, and then say “yup, I’m right,” or “the rectangle is broken!”

The fact that many good looking borderline stike calls show fully outside the rectangle on many broadcasts, makes me want them even less.

Jeff Long
Member
2 years 1 month ago

I watch the O’s frequently and have found that even though they are a top 10 team in your rankings Carson, they’re camera can be maddeningly off. You’ll see a pitch that looks right on the inside corner, and then they show “pitch track” and it’s 4 inches off the plate. I’m very jealous of the Pirates CF camera!

TK
Guest
TK
2 years 1 month ago

Hw could you rank the Cardinals below the Red Sox!?!?! The BoSox have an angel on their shot so pronounced that you can’t even see the entire home plate area,instead you are getting grass on the right and missing part of the lines on the left!

This is a travesty on par with human trafficking!!! Or rec center without Yatzee, equally egregious!

Evan
Guest
Evan
2 years 1 month ago

Cardinals are beholden to angels in the Church hierarchy so the rankings make perfect sense.

Bradley Woodrum
Member
Member
2 years 1 month ago

I still don’t get why the Braves get highly ranked in this every year. It’s clearly off-center.

Anon29
Guest
Anon29
2 years 1 month ago

So’s your beard. What’s your point?

Breezy
Guest
Breezy
2 years 1 month ago

Pittsburgh actually uses what they call ‘true center’ where it’s lined up perfectly with the mound to the plate. They had a hard time years ago when they built PNC because of the high wall in center field. They first moved to the side of the big wall and got tons of complaints, obviously. With the occasional wind, it became difficult and dangerous for them to have someone up above that wall. They’ve since built a good structure and mastered the art of broadcasting baseball.

Carl
Guest
Carl
2 years 1 month ago

The IDEAL center field shot is where the camera is on a line from the pitcher’s release point to the center of the strike zone. This is the best way to see how and when the ball breaks. The ideal center field camera mount would move to that point for each pitcher. In your photos you’ll notice the best ones are closest to this point.

G Fuzz
Guest
G Fuzz
2 years 1 month ago

I scrolled through out of competitiveness to see if the Mets maybe rank highly at something, anything.

Neil Weinberg
Member
2 years 1 month ago

Glad to see the Twins adjusted their positioning. Used to be very strange.

desertrat73
Member
desertrat73
2 years 1 month ago

I agree 100%. LOVE to see the movement on the pitches from straight on. Nothing better. I hope at some point, MLBtv will allow the END USER to CHOOSE which feed to watch, kind of like the Masters. I love the behind the plate shots too.

Cool WHIP
Member
Member
Cool WHIP
2 years 1 month ago

Much respect for the Emerson shout-out

Andy
Guest
Andy
2 years 1 month ago

Ralph Waldo or that crappy TV brand?

Ryan
Guest
Ryan
2 years 1 month ago

Anyone else find it really interesting that (unless I missed someone) all of the off-center cameras are off-center shading toward left field, not right field? I’m sure that has to do with wanting to provide a better angle of right-handed pitchers, but I still find it really interesting.

Beau
Guest
Beau
2 years 1 month ago

This right here is why fangraphs is the fucking best

Bryz
Guest
2 years 1 month ago

I can confirm that the new angle is permanent for the Twins. With the addition of pine trees in center field, they were forced to eliminate the high-angle camera.

Eric
Guest
Eric
2 years 1 month ago

I disagree with this listing 100%. It looks like the only thing taken into account is the angle. All the “worst” cameras are much closer and fill more of your TV screen. They also are much lower to the ground, giving you a better feel for the north-south break of the ball. It’s so frustrating to watch a game on my widescreen TV when all the action takes place in a 2 inch wide strip down the middle of my screen. I would gladly trade the Twins camera for Oakland’s.

mike
Guest
mike
2 years 1 month ago

Interesting the AL East has 4 in the top 10. Guess they have it together. I live in the Baltimore area, so I typically watch a lot of games in AL East parks. I didn’t notice is was so off centered in so many other places.

mike
Guest
mike
2 years 1 month ago

I wish MASN would have the pitch count up all the time. They could easily add it on the bottom of the box or just get rid of the stupid extra MASN logo.

Mark
Guest
Mark
1 year 10 months ago

The Twins angle is the worst. Watching the All-Star Game was torture because of the high angle.

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