It’s not about WAR. The broadcast will pop up little notes about Matt Carpenter’s WAR and Madison Bumgarner’s xFIP and so on, but that’s not the drawing point for me. You could replace every mention of RBIs and wins in the Joe Buck telecast with WAR and FIP, and it would make the whole production only very marginally better. The problem with baseball broadcasting today isn’t that they use bad stats.
What I loved, rather, was that it was a non-stop, dense baseball discussion. Gabe Kapler and CJ Nitkowski in particular had excellent chemistry, and were clearly just delighted to get to talk about baseball in this level of detail with other folks on the television. When Kapler decided to demonstrate John Jay’s hit-by-pitch technique on Saturday night, right as he was getting up, Jay twisted and took a ball off the bum. Kapler’s joy to have called it was great. Bud Black was more reserved, but he explained clearly a number of the trade-offs that go into bullpen management in the playoffs. Both he and Nitkowski offered great analyses of the pitchers’ stuff and their opinions of when a guy might be losing it.
The broadcast also featured OG stathead Rob Neyer, and he was fine, but he didn’t add much. What baseball broadcasts need isn’t statheads. It’s baseball people who can talk intelligently and excitedy about baseball during a baseball game. This broadcast needs to highlight the game more, visually, but I think it could offer some real improvements to the model of baseball telecasts.