The 2019 edition of the local MLB announcer rankings are done and dusted, and before we get to the fun, here are some quick notes about the rankings themselves.
- Every team received at least 1,300 grades. Last year, I was happy because every team received at least 1,000 grades.
- With one fewer team than last year to grade, we received over 64,000 votes – roughly 20% more than last year.
- Only eight of the 30 teams retained their positioning from last year.
- The average grade for the 30 teams was a 2.34, which was the exact score of the team in 15th.
- The battle at the top of the charts was incredibly tight. The #2 team would have finished first if just seven of their F grades were A grades.
- I apologize for a couple of the screencaps being from previous rankings. Some broadcasts opt not to show their announcers at the beginning of the game, and I don’t have the time or patience to watch an entire (old) game between teams I don’t care about in case they cut to the booth mid-game.
- I also apologize if I missed any analysts for teams. Keeping track of who’s just in the studio, who’s just a fill-in analyst, and who actually works regularly in the booth is exhausting, especially when teams and networks don’t add much clarity to the situation.
Full vote tallies and percentages can be found here, in case you want to spoil yourself.
And without further ado, here are your rankings for the 2019 season.
30. Washington Nationals: 1.53
-Bob Carpenter (play by play)
-FP Santangelo (analyst)
Previous rankings: 27 (2014), 31 (2016), 30 (2017), 30 (2018)
Previous grades: 1.79 (2014), 1.48 (2016), 1.37 (2017), 1.73 (2018)
Most popular grade: F (32.73% of votes)
Analysis: It should be no surprise that the Nationals crew ranks dead last, after ranking second to last in each of the last three years of voting we’re done. SEE! YOU! LATER!, Hawk Harrelson – we’ve got a new low standard across baseball.
29. Pittsburgh Pirates: 1.56
-Greg Brown (play by play)
-Joe Block (play by play)
-Steve Blass (analyst)
-John Wehner (analyst)
-Bob Walk (analyst)
Previous rankings: 14 (2014), 14 (2016), 22 (2017), 24 (2018)
Previous grades: 2.28 (2014), 2.40 (2016), 2.08 (2017), 2.06 (2018)
Most popular grade: F (31.05% of votes)
Analysis: What a fall for the Pirates, who were ranked in the top half of baseball during the first two years we did this. Even the impending retirement of Steve Blass couldn’t help them overcome the bad vibes created by (just two name two incidents) getting upset by players watching long home runs, wearing jewelry, and teams stealing bases in blowouts.
28. Detroit Tigers: 1.66
-Matt Shepard (play by play)
-Kirk Gibson (analyst)
-Jack Morris (analyst)
Previous rankings: 11 (2014), 15 (2016), 19 (2017), 23 (2018)
Previous grades: 2.46 (2014), 2.39 (2016), 2.25 (2017), 2.08 (2018)
Most popular grade: C (35.43% of votes)
Analysis: This is the first full season of the new Tigers broadcast booth since Mario Impemba and Rod Allen’s partnership came to a heated end last summer, and early returns are not great. This grade likely wasn’t helped by Fox Sports Detroit’s aborted efforts at Players Only broadcasts, but upon giving the Shepard and Gibson booth a watch, I wasn’t impressed. “Dry” is the word that comes to mind.
27. St. Louis Cardinals: 1.73
-Dan McLaughlin (play by play)
-Al Hrabosky (analyst)
-Jim Edmonds (analyst)
-Rick Horton (analyst)
-Tim McCarver (analyst)
-Brad Thompson (analyst)
Previous rankings: 28 (2014), 30 (2016), 29 (2017), 27 (2018)
Previous grades: 1.67 (2014), 1.50 (2016), 1.48 (2017), 1.83 (2018)
Most popular grade: C (27.77% of votes)
Analysis: This is about standard for the Cardinals broadcast, no matter how many new analysts get added to the booth. This was one of the three teams to receive at least 25% F votes, along with the Pirates and Nationals.
26. Miami Marlins: 1.79
-Paul Severino (play by play)
-Todd Hollandsworth (analyst)
Previous rankings: 24 (2014), 26 (2016), 27 (2017), 29 (2018)
Previous grades: 1.95 (2014), 1.98 (2016), 1.75 (2017), 1.76 (2018)
Most popular grade: C (35.78% of votes)
Analysis: This is year two of the Severino/Hollandsworth pairing in the Marlins booth, and similar to attending games at Marlins Park, fans just don’t seem interested. Their ranking improved this year, but that can mainly be pinned on other teams receiving worse grades, rather than people rating the Marlins higher. Only three teams received a lower cut of A votes than the Marlins (weirdly, the only one we’ve seen so far is the Tigers), but they still may have room to grow in the future.
25. Colorado Rockies: 1.81
-Drew Goodman (play by play)
-Jenny Cavnar (play by play)
-Jeff Huson (analyst)
-Ryan Spilborghs (analyst)
Previous rankings: 29 (2014), 29 (2016), 24 (2017), 26 (2018)
Previous grades: 1.63 (2014), 1.66 (2016), 1.91 (2017), 1.87 (2018)
Most popular grade: C (37.72% of votes)
Analysis: I don’t mind the Rockies broadcasters, but then again, I typically only tune in something like six times (at most) a year. Drew Goodman is so entrenched in that booth, and if fans don’t like him now, they’re not going to like him next year, or the year after, and so on and so forth.
24. Texas Rangers: 1.84
-Dave Raymond (play by play)
-Tom Grieve (analyst)
-CJ Nitkowski (analyst)
Previous rankings: 22 (2014), 28 (2016), 28 (2017), 28 (2018)
Previous grades: 2.02 (2014), 1.90 (2016), 1.64 (2017), 1.79 (2018)
Most popular grade: C (43.30% of votes)
Analysis: The Rangers crew surged ahead four spots from last year, but much like the Marlins below them, it’s largely due to other teams receiving lower scores than an appreciable spike in their grades. No team received a lower share of A votes than the Rangers (just 5.39%), and no team received a higher share of C votes. The Rangers were also one of just three teams in our polling to receive fewer than 1,500 votes, and had the fewest total votes of any team (1,335).
23. Arizona Diamondbacks: 1.98
-Steve Berthiaume (play by play)
-Bob Brenly (analyst)
Previous rankings: 17 (2014), 23 (2016) 14 (2017), 18 (2018)
Previous grades: 2.15 (2014), 2.14 (2016), 2.36 (2017), 2.29 (2018)
Most popular grade: B (29.53% of votes)
Analysis: We’ve reached the first team on our list with B as the most popular grade, but C followed close behind, and the Diamondbacks are one of two teams left on the list to receive at least 20% F grades. Their ranking has been all over the map since we’ve been doing this, but this marks both a low grade and ties the lowest ranking they’ve ever achieved. I guess that’s what happens when you beat the anti-Manny Machado drum in the first week of the season.
22. Kansas City Royals: 2.05
-Ryan Lefebvre (play by play)
-Steve Physioc (play by play)
-Rex Hudler (analyst)
Previous rankings: 18 (2014), 20 (2016), 12 (2017), 25 (2018)
Previous grades: 2.13 (2014), 2.25 (2016), 2.43 (2017), 1.95 (2018)
Most popular grade: C (29.78% of votes)
Analysis: The Royals broadcasters exhaust me. Both their grade and ranking have ticked up from last year, and like many of the other crews we’ve seen, they’re not going to be changing any time soon – especially when it comes to beanballs.
21. Atlanta Braves: 2.08
-Chip Caray (play by play)
-Jeff Francoeur (analyst)
-Tom Glavine (analyst)
-Joe Simpson (analyst)
Previous rankings: 21 (2014), 13 (2016), 23 (2017), 20 (2018)
Previous grades: 2.06 (2014), 2.41 (2016), 1.91 (2017), 2.24 (2018)
Most popular grade: B (27.08% of votes)
Analysis: Joe Simpson has been shifted to a more limited role this season, and I expected the Braves to tick up in the rankings a bit this year. That hasn’t happened, even though the booth is less angry and more loose than in prior years with Simpson on the prowl. Weirdly, the shift has also made Simpson more likable both on the radio and on TV. But for better or worse, Chip Caray is still Chip Caray, and Jeff Francoeur is still young and polishing his broadcasting chops.