As players, managers and front office executives embrace the esoteric statistics, teams increasingly want their radio announcers just as fluent in the language of WAR, VORP and B.A.B.I.P. (Those stand for wins above replacement, value over replacement player and batting average on balls in play, for those of you dusting off your radios as the season begins.)
“They wanted a broadcaster who is at least comfortable with exploring the idea of discussing advanced statistics and what they mean,” said Robert Ford, 33, who was hired by the Houston Astros in the off-season, along with Steve Sparks, 48, a former pitcher, to call the team’s games. The advent of advanced statistical analysis, Mr. Ford said, has “changed the way we think about baseball.”
Now, as the two settle into the Astros’ broadcast booth, they and their colleagues across the country face a balancing act. How much do listeners want to know about these advanced numbers? How much is informative? And how much would prompt the audience, a group that spans all generations, to tune out?
Listeners and announcers alike say that striking the right balance will be a challenge.