The Problem With Baseball Broadcasts

John Kruk was a good baseball player.  Three All-Star Games, an exact career batting average of .300, and 100 home runs.  He played from 1986-1995.  Pre-Moneyball.  Pre-sabermetric.

So one would say, “It’s okay if he’s not aware of sabermetrics.”  Fine.  But what he doesn’t realize, is that now, everything that’s happening on the field is based off of them.

During a game I was watching last week, that had Kruk as one of the announcers, a home run was hit.  A bomb.  I can’t remember the player, because I forgot what teams were playing, but this ball was crushed.

After the home run, ESPN showed a graphic that displayed the launch angle, ball speed coming off the bat, and measure of the home run.

Kurt went “I’m not sure what all that means.”, as the play-by-play announcer read through the statistics displayed on the screen.

It’s not just Kruk.  It’s almost everyone in a baseball broadcast booth.  Why?  Because sports media companies like color analysts who played the game.  Who’re experienced with baseball.  The guys who still have a “classic ” view on the game, not a sabermetrical view.

That’s why Tom Verducci is a huge step for sports media.  He’s a writer.  He’s got no MLB experience.  He’s a baseball writer who’s got a voice good enough for a broadcast booth.  But do you hear him talking about sabermetrics in the booth?  Not really.  Perhaps it’s his producers telling him no, or his own decision.

The point: We need someone in the booth with a knowledge of sabermetrics, because what’s happening on the field is based off of it.

ESPN has put Jonah Keri on Baseball Tonight, which again, is huge.  But I can tell the true Jonah Keri, the writer Jonah Keri, hasn’t came out on the show.  I don’t know whether the producers are him telling not to, but I do know that we need some influence of sabermetrics on baseball broadcasts.  It makes fans more educated, and announcers more educated on the game they’re covering.

Except for beat writing, sabermetrics are everywhere in baseball writing.  And people are opposed to it.  They claim “It affects the integrity of the game.  This isn’t how baseball is supposed to be played or understood.”.  Yeah, but do you understand that every MLB team is using them?  And that 75% of the things happening on the field are based off of them?

Saber metrics are changing the way people think.  How players think.  How GMs think.  How teams as a whole think  It’s not changing how announcers think…. yet.  But someday, it will.