The 2016 season is upon us! So far its been fantastic, we’ve had late game heroics, incredible catches, unprecedented home run streaks, baseball in the snow, and the Braves still haven’t won a game. What more could you want?
If anything, 2016 has been a little bit overwhelming. With some many exciting teams and players its hard to know where to focus your attention. Do you watch Jose Fernandez after missing him last season or the Blue Jays’ murders row? Do you flip over to Mike Trout vs Sonny Gray or Bryce Harper‘s near inevitable extra base hit when facing Tom Koehler? How can you possibly be expected to make these decisions?
Never fear! OTBB is here to help. Following our uber-successful annual series, here are the 2016 MLB TV rankings, the comprehensive way to determine which teams are the most fun to watch and which aren’t even worth the 2 minute Daily Recap on the MLB app the next morning.
There are a few things that make a team worth watching and talent is chief among them. If a team is really good or filled with really good players, its obviously going to be more fun to tune in to their games than a cellar dweller with few if any stars. That said, one transcendent player can make all the difference. The Angels aren’t very good but every single Mike Trout at bat is must see TV.
Other factors come into play as well. Great announcers, uniforms, or other interesting oddities are a plus. Hawk Harrelson is a minus. All things are factored in when making the definitive MLB TV rankings.
Below are all 30 teams ranked from least fun to watch to can’t turn off. Enjoy and feel free to tell us what you think in the comments below.
You can find part one of our rankings, with teams 30-15, here.
14. Arizona Diamondbacks
The Dbacks made the top half of the rankings but not exactly for positive reasons. Sure, Paul Goldschmidt is one of the best hitters in the sport and rarely disappoints and you might see some Zack Greinke greatness from time to time, but this team has a legitimate chance of becoming a real dumpster fire. For the second straight season, Arizona thinks they can compete for the NL West crown and for the second straight season it looks very unlikely. Sure, their rotation in much improved (assuming their good pitchers pitch like good pitchers) but they’re still trotting out 7 guys and Goldschmidt every night. The injury to AJ Pollock was a big blog but he wasn’t going to be the sole difference maker, this is a team that insists on batting Jean Segura leadoff despite a career sub .300 OBP just because he seems like a leadoff hitter. In an era of advanced stats and analytics where every team seems to think similarly and no team really gets ripped off in a trade, the Dbacks still managed to get fleeced by the Braves last winter.
The real thing to note, however, is Arizona’s uniforms. The Diamondback’s uniforms are so horrendous that it is shocking to me that this isn’t some sort of scandal. Remember when the Marlins’ players hated their black jerseys so much they revolted and never wore them? How have the Diamondbacks not done this? Though I guess you can’t only wear your throwbacks every single night.
I’ve been tuning in to Arizona games just to see what they’re wearing and how awful it looks, and it never disappoints. I think these jerseys could be the one year catastrophe we look back on and laugh at in a few years.
13. Detroit Tigers
The Tigers have some stars that definitely get you to tune in. There’s Justin Verlander, Victor Martinez, Miguel Cabrera, Jordan Zimmerman, and Justin Upton just to name a few. Problem is, the Tigers finished in last place last season and are poised to do so again in a very tough division if their aging core can’t stay healthy. This might be a team to watch in April and May when everyone is feeling good but not something you want to tune in to in August when they’re on their 3rd string first basemen and both Cabrera and Martinez are out of the lineup.
Plus, with the Tigers you know you’re always right on the edge of a major bullpen meltdown and those can be fun.
12. Los Angeles Angels
Before I get into the Angels I have to say, at this point forward we’re really splitting hairs. The remaining 12 teams are all good TV.
The Angels are a bad team. Their pitching is bad and their lineup isn’t great and they play in a tough division and they won’t win a lot of ball games. However, they might lead the league high end MLB TV talent because Mike Trout is a drop everything kind of player. He is, so far, setting himself up to be the game’s greats and that we get to watch him 600 times a year is treat. Whenever the Angels are on, you kind of have to monitor the box score so you can flip over when Trout hits.
Beyond him you also have Albert Pujols. Pujols isn’t what he used to be but he’s still a legitimate power hitter and a future hall of famer. He’s another guy you should go out of your way to see and between the two of them, the Angels make it to number 12.
11. Boston Red Sox
The Red Sox fell just outside the top 10 despite the David Ortiz farewell tour, the excitement of Mookie Betts, and the likely once a week dominance of David Price. Lets also not forget Xander Boegarts, who is finally coming into his own offensively and looks like he might be the player the Sox thought he was. You also get Craig Kimbrel at the back end of games and that’s very exciting.
The problem is Boston’s starting rotation outside of Price. They are bad and they are uninteresting. Joe Ross looks good but you only get to watch him for 4 innings before he gets knocked out. Rick Porcello is the type of pitcher that makes you want to watch any other game. Clay Buchholz is a long way from being any good, let alone the crazy salary Boston decided to pay him this year when they picked up his option.
Boston is a fun team to watch, but not every day. There will be a lot of 9-4 type losses mixed in along the way and a lot Hanley Ramirez strikeouts to suffer through.
10. Washington Nationals
Like the Angels, the Nats have an outfielder that commands a stadium’s worth of attention when he hits. Bryce Harper, the reigning NL MVP, takes perhaps the single most exciting at bats in the sport. He, like Trout, almost singlehandedly could put his team high on this list.
Of course, Harper isn’t alone as a draw on the Nationals. Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg are two of the most fun pitchers to watch in baseball and Anthony Rendon, Ryan Zimmerman, even Jon Papelbon all make for compelling TV. Watch out for Michael Taylor this year. The young centerfielder was thrust on to the big stage when Denard Span got hurt last year and an early injury to Ben Revere this time around has given him a healthy chunk of playing time already. He’s speedy with a whole bunch of pop and is a great defensive outfielder. He strikes out too much but with him at the top of the lineup, the Nats’ 1-3 in the order is appointment viewing.
9. Texas Rangers
The Rangers are stocked with young exciting position players. Rougned Odor is poised for a huge year and is incredibly fun to watch. Delino Deshields made a name for him self last October and is crazy fast. Nomar Mazara is the best Nomar since Garciaparra and has gotten off to a scorching hot start in his big league career. Pretty soon, the Rangers might also have Joey Gallo and Jurrickson Profar in the major leagues as well and Gallo especially is a guy to watch as he can hit baseballs as far as anybody.
Besides the young guns, Texas has Cole Hamels atop the rotation and Prince Fielder and (when healthy) Shin-soo Choo in the lineup as well. The reigning AL West champs will look to repeat this year and while the Astros are my pick thanks to a deeper bullpen, the Rangers will certainly be fun to watch all summer.
8. New York Yankees
I was complaining on twitter the other day that the Yankees lack that young, exciting, middle of the order bat that would make them more fun to watch. The lineup consists mostly of guys in their late 30’s that used to be better at whatever they do now. Guys who used to be faster, used to have more power, used to throw harder, whatever. Didi Gregorius is fun to watch but he doesn’t really hit, Starlin Castro might be bright spot but you don’t exactly change the station when he comes to bat. Alex Rodriguez is exciting but he’s a full time DH and strikes out a ton. There isn’t that big offensive draw that other teams have.
Things don’t really improve on the pitching side of things, at least not when you look at the rotation. Masahiro Tanaka is legitimately great and you should watch when he pitches but behind him there isn’t all that much. Michael Pineda can be great when healthy but goes through long stretches of boring struggles as well. CC Sabathia is almost unwatchable at this point and Nate Eovaldi is only fun to watch if you like to see baseballs travel in a very straight line to home plate. Besides Tanka, there isn’t a whole lot here.
What the Yankees do have, though, is the most exciting bullpen in baseball. Even without Aroldis Chapman, the combo of Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller is fantastic, and with Chapman, the hardest thrower in baseball history, the last three innings of Yankee games are absolutely must watch. Plus, the Yankees are right on that cusp of contention, its not clear whether or not they’ll be quite good enough to make the playoffs, so there’s a high likelihood that a lot of their games will really matter.
7. Kansas City Royals
The Royals are the defending World Champs, after winning the AL pennant the year before and as such, they suffer from much the same overexposure as the Giants and Cardinals, though maybe not quite as badly. The thing about the Royals is that they play a really exciting form of baseball, they score by nicking you to death, rather than with one or two big blows. Throughout the lineup, the Royals put up tough at bats, grinding through starters the way they worked down Matt Harvey on Opening Night. They win a lot and they typically do so in exciting fashion.
On the downside, the back of their bullpen isn’t the three headed monster it once was. It will be fun to see if Wade Davis can continue to be the monster he has been over the past two seasons but its not longer ‘game over after 6’ in KC like it once was. Moreover, the starting rotation might be a problem for the Royals this season, they are counting on big innings from Chris Young and Ian Kennedy and neither of those guys are very good or very fun to watch. On the plus side, Kris Medlen is back! He made his first start this past week and was pretty good. I hope he’s able to regain his old excellence.
6. Houston Astros
The Astros came from nowhere to compete last season and it will be really exciting to see if they can do it again. Dallas Kuechel is on that Chris Sale, Corey Kluber level of MLB TV pitcher, not at the top of the list but definitely make sure to monitor that game when he pitches. Colby Rasmus routinely crushes baseballs into the second deck in Houston and Jose Altuve is one of the most talented and entertaining players in baseball, his high average and OBP and tons of stolen bases means the game gets much more exciting when he’s involved.
All that is just the appetizer though. The main course is the Astros’ young shortstop, in his first full season in the MLB. Carlos Correa is built like a linebacker and has power like one. He dazzles in the field and has a hose for an arm but he’s got power everywhere and looks like a solid bet to be the three hitter in Houston for as long as the team can afford him. Correa has been compared to a young Alex Rodriguez and while that’s maybe not fair to say about a 22 year old, he’s got a real chance to be one of the best shortstops we’ve seen in a really long time. Correa, along with Lindor and Manny Machado and maybe Xander Boegarts gives the AL a depth of talent in really young guys on the left side of the infield that we haven’t seen since A-Rod, Nomar, and Derek Jeter in the mid- 1990s.
5. Pittsburgh Pirates
Sure the Pirates have Gerrit Cole, one of the best young Ace’s in baseball. And sure, they have former MVP Andrew McCutchen who is a fan favorite for his power, speed, and defensive ability, but the appeal of the Pirates isn’t really about their stars, its about the team as a whole. The Pirates are loaded with young exciting talent-they translated it into 98 wins last season, though they didn’t get past the Wild Card game. Starling Marte and Gregory Polanco -who seems to have suddenly figured it out- make for one of the most fun to watch outfields in baseball and Tony Watson and Mark Melancon are among the best, if quietest, back end bullpens there is.
The three best teams in the National League, maybe in all of baseball, are in the NL Central. Last year, the division winning Cardinals were the only team in baseball to win 100 games but both the Cubs and Pirates topped 90 and all three made the playoffs. This season, Chicago is better, St. Louis is worse, and we still aren’t sure where the Pirates are at. One thing seems certain though, at the end of the season, its going to be close and last year’s one-and-done for Pittsburgh emphasized just how important a divisional title is. All three of these teams will be battling it out all summer, knowing that each game will ultimately prove important come September. The Pirates are going to be playing exciting baseball all summer.
4. Toronto Blue Jays
Like a 5’8″ tall Ace who somehow throws 96 mph and is aiming for his first 200 inning season after rushing back from a serious knee injury to dominate in September and October last year? Got it. Like an unparalleled offense that was leading the league in runs before adding the game’s best offensive shortstop (at the time)? Got that too. Like a team with 4 guys with serious chances to hit 30 homers? Yup.
If you like offense, and one good pitcher a week, the Blue Jays are the team for you. Besides paying special attention to Marcus Stroman starts, the Blue Jays are a great team to watch because the whole lineup is fun. Edwin Encarnacion, Jose Bautista, Troy Tulowitski, and defending AL MVP Josh Donaldson are a really really tough stretch for even the best pitcher, and the rest of the lineup is sprinkled with enough interesting guys like Kevin Pillar and Chris Colabello that there really isn’t ever a reason to turn away. Definitely a top 5 MLB TV team.
3. New York Mets
The Mets might not have the most exciting offense in the league, in fact, it might be a downright boring lineup outside of Yoenis Cespedes and maybe Lucas Duda and David Wright, but it absolutely does not matter. For the reigning NL Champs, the story is all about pitching. The Mets rotation is, without a doubt, the most interesting in the league.
At the top, there’s Matt Harvey, a spectacle in and of himself with his 96 mph heater and solid 4 pitch arsenal. He’s appointment viewing to be sure and the Mets faithful go crazy over the Dark Night every time out. Harvey Night has become a thing in Queens, yet he might not even be the most interesting guy. Noah Syndergaard, known as Thor, has the highest average velocity of any starter in the majors and puts on a show every time out. Its incredible. He might become one of the best starters in baseball really, really fast. Amazingly, I haven’t even mentioned Jacob deGrom, a fireballer in his own right who showed last October that he’s the real deal as well.
On top of all those guys, there’s Bartolo Colon, who is, admittedly, appealing for a few very different reasons but must see nonetheless.
2. Los Angeles Dodgers
Clayton Kershaw is a tell-your-grandkids type of pitcher. He’s putting up numbers that aren’t even once in a generation and every time he pitches, you should watch because you’ll want to soak it all in. When Kershaw’s on the mound, nothing else matters.
At the same time, Yasiel Puig is one of the most divisive players in the game, and also one of the most exciting and he seems hellbent on regaining the success of his rookie season in the majors. The Dodgers also have a young centerfielder with a ton of power in Joc Pederson and baseball’s number one prospect, Corey Seager, playing short stop. All these, plus many more reasons I haven’t mentioned, are sufficient enough to make the Dodgers a top 2 MLB TV team, but they aren’t the reason LA was seriously considered for number 1 on this list before settling here. That reason should be obvious: Vin Scully.
88 year old Vin Scully has been calling Dodger games since 1950, 67 years. For context, when Scully first started working play by play for the Dodgers in Brooklyn, Dwight Eisenhower had just taken office as President of the United States, Bill Clinton was 4 years old, John Kennedy was two years from becoming a US Senator, and Barack Obama wouldn’t be born for 11 years. But its certainly not his remarkable longevity that makes Scully a legend. It is the fact that he is, objectively and unequivocally, the best sports announcer there has been and the best there will ever be. He is the only man to still work games alone, carrying the entire weight of both TV and radio broadcasts simultaneously while telling stories of the players that only he could possibly know. How, after nearly 70 seasons and thousands and thousands of players he can still remember the details of individual players lives and weave them so effortlessly into a broadcast is amazing.
There is no one like Vin Scully. If baseball is the soundtrack of summer, Scully is the soundtrack of baseball. 2016 will be his final season in the booth before a well deserved retirement. Soak up as much as you can.
1. Chicago Cubs
The Cubs came in to this season as baseball’s most talked about team, and for good reason. The Cubs are the deepest and perhaps best team in baseball and, despite the disappointing loss of Kyle Schwarber, are still the best team to watch.
In the lineup, there isn’t a single wasted at bat. Every guy, 1-8 is an interesting watch. They have one of the best young third basemen in the NL in Kris Bryant, a dynamic and super exciting shortstop in Addison Russell and really good, really interesting players at every single other position.
While the injury to Schwarber is as disappointing from an MLB TV perspective as from a baseball one, it does allow Jorge Soler to get more at bats and that’s definitely not a bad thing.
Watch the Cubs. Watch all these teams.