VORS: Value Over Replacement Scribe

With the reporting date for pitchers & catchers only a week away nearly upon us, now is as good a time as any to discuss where we go to read high-quality baseball writing. Since this place first opened in the Old Basement, the abundance & variety of the baseball blogosphere baseball content online has proliferated, to our considerable benefit. No longer must we endure The Poultry Man and his legion of Stribbies.

Here’s a list of who I’m reading these days, based on the sites in my trusty RSS reader & a couple bespoke apps for my pocket-dwelling supercomputer:

The Athletic

This is the new one for me this year. I’ve listed the Twins, Padres, & Rockies as my favorite teams. (I don’t understand why a Big 4 market like Colorado/Denver does not have Athletic presence, yet.) Twins coverage has been...disappointing, even after The Athletic hired a new beat writer. I’m hoping for marked improvement now that Spring Training is here. In addition to following Ken Rosenthal’s national baseball coverage, I’m also subscribed to Eno Sarris’ writing here, but I think Eno’s leaving baseball writing entirely to do the beer thing. (At least, that’s my underinformed impression.)

Michael Baumann & Ben Lindbergh (The Ringer)

Writing for The Ringer means you’ll get columns on more than just baseball from these two guys, but the baseball writing’s pretty good, and occasionally the other stuff interests me, too. Moreover, I find Baumann’s perspective on labor refreshing.

Fangraphs

My primary filter for Fangraphs flags all posts by Jeff Sullivan, who writes at least two posts a day and has a gift for interesting observations and engaging analysis. Beyond that, I flag posts about the Twins, Padres, & Rockies (and filter out those about the Yankmes & Red Sox).

The Hardball Times

I mentioned earlier that it amazes me that The Hardball Times turns fourteen this year. It’s survived longer than the combined existences of Grantland and Sports on Earth. My primary filters these days are for teams (Twins, Padres, & Rockies) and a couple pet topics (ballparks, expansion, & history). I flagged posts for a bunch of authors there at one time (including Dirk Hayhurst, Chris Jaffe, Brad Johnson, Dave Studeman, & Steve Treder), but most of my favorite regulars have moved on. I still miss John Brattain.

Jay Jaffe (Sports Illustrated Fangraphs)

I was never a Sports Illustrated guy until Joe Posnanski. I stuck around after JoePos left, mainly because of Jay Jaffe. Jaffe’s most notable for JAWS and his work on the Hall of Fame, but those are by no means the limits of his baseball writing. In the last year or so there was some pretty substantial turnover at SI, and some of the other writers I found there were laid off or moved on. The new folks haven’t registered much yet, and I have no interest in anything Tom Verducci has to say. Edited to add: And now I may never have a reason to visit SI again, since Jaffe has moved to Fangraphs.

Jonah Keri (CBS Sports)

I hope MLB returns to Montréal someday soon and Keri is there to document it. His love for the Twins’ erstwhile contraction-mates and all-in advocacy for Tim Raines’ Hall of Fame case put him on my radar, but he’s a gifted writer of all things baseball.

MLB Trade Rumors

I installed the MLBTR app on my phone primarily for the push notifications. I’m not a completionist with this site; there’s simply too much to read. So I’ll dip in on players & teams that interest me.

Joe Posnanski (MLB.com)

Stating this purely for the record. Now that JoePos is employed by MLB, I don’t have to filter through columns about scandal-tarnished NCAA football coaches, the Browns, golf, and whatever. He can keep writing about Springsteen, though.

Ed Thoma (Baseball Outsider, his personal blog)

Someone (AMR?) turned me onto Ed Thoma several years ago, and I’ve been reading ever since. Thoma’s based in Mankato and, while a sportswriter, is not a member of the BBWAA. His perspective is a bit more old-school than mine, but I like his features and find his perspective nuanced, even if I don’t agree with it occasionally.

UniWatch

I’ve been reading this since it was still a Village Voice column, and while Paul Lukas’ hobbyhorses get eyeroll-worthy on occasion, the quality of the sartorial anaylsis he & Phil Hecken provide is what keeps me coming back. They’re willing to take deep dives on minutiae that wouldn’t get that treatment anywhere else

Anyone’s bandwidth for writing on a particular subject is limited, which makes the answer to who you enjoy reading all the more meaningful. We only have so much time to keep abreast of the latest analysis, and probably even fewer moments to spend on longform articles. So, who do you consider worthy of that time in your day? What do you value most in the baseball writing you make a point of reading regularly?

26 thoughts on “VORS: Value Over Replacement Scribe”

  1. My most read baseball person is probably Mike Berardino from the PiPress. Fun Twitter follow and his stories seem to always add a little extra (whether it be added statistics or a added note about a player) in his writings. Nationally, its Rosenthal because I click in on The Athletic everyday. I've really cut back on my reading in the last couple of years as various writers have moved around and taken front office jobs or websites have shuttered.

    An addendum to your list, Jaffe has moved from SI to Fangraphs.

  2. MLB Trade Rumors is a must, just to keep up to date on things (and plus, their thrice-weekly chats aren't bad, either).

    I feel like Pos benefited greatly from the focus on baseball, but I still check out his blog, because the Browns blog was too interesting to pass up.

    Fangraphs remains good when I remember to read it. I glaze over some of the super mega in depth pFX.

    It's been winter, so I tend to limit my baseball reading, just because there's only so many perspectives on the slow offseason/Ohtani/Darvish/collusion(?!) that one can reasonably take in before it all becomes a blur.

    1. I got kindof sad when I realized I wouldn't hear Pos's opinion on Minneapolis in the winter (because he wouldn't have to report on the Super Bowl), or the winter Olympics.

  3. I am thrilled Meg Rowley is now the editor of Hardball Times and will be writing full time. She is bright, funny, and I imagine she'll be a good editor, too. Plus, another Mariners fan.

  4. Related, what sort of baseball podcasts do people subscribe to? For me, it's only Effectively Wild. I'm also subscribed, again, to the FanGraphs Audio feed but it just doesn't grab me the same way.

    1. Same as you. I can only handle so much baseball talk anyway, so that's what I go to. I've listened to a few episodes of The Ringer podcast, and I used to listen to the old Hardball Times podcast.

    2. I’ve listened to occasional episodes of The Ringer MLB Show (hosted by Baumann & Lindbergh), and I’ve enjoyed it. The Hardball Times’ Stealing Home was excellent (& made in Minnesota!), but seems to have died. The old episodes are worth checking out, though. I’ve listened to one episode each of SI’s The Narrative & Brandon Warne’s Midwest Swing; I’m not sure they’re regular listens for me, but I’d probably revisit them, depending on the topic.

    1. That is a good hire. I kind of stopped reading Stark because ESPN buried his articles. As time passed, I stopped going to ESPN.

      1. Yep. And Emma Span’s the new managing editor for national coverage!

        It’d be nice if Sam Miller found his way to The Athletic. I’m done giving the 4ltr traffic.

      1. Gammons has been around the game a long time, and I respect his longevity. That said, I couldn’t tell you the last time I thought to myself, “Yeah, I want to know Peter Gammons’ take on this.” I honestly don’t feel like I’ve heard anything new from him in quite a while. Personal preference, obviously.

        Now, if Rob Neyer were to join The Athletic, I’d probably excited to read him again.

          1. I, too, exchanged emails with Rob (around 2005, I think). Very gracious guy, and the one who first got me reading about baseball online back in the dial-up days.

          2. it's nice that he's a midwesterner and hasn't had his mind clouded by the coasts.

            says the former resident of LaLa Land. 😉

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