MLB on Twitter: Ranking the 30 Must-Follow Writers, Players and Analysts

Matt TruebloodSenior Analyst IJanuary 20, 2012

MLB on Twitter: Ranking the 30 Must-Follow Writers, Players and Analysts

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    Logan Morrison (@LoMoMarlins) gets relatively few public references without that parenthetical. Morrison is one of many players in MLB today who captivate huge numbers of followers on Twitter, which has become an irreplaceable source for news, analysis and insight (plus plenty of entertainment value) to the modern baseball fan.

    Twitter is a powerful tool. Though the model is thus far imperfect, experts agree the site will one day be a multi-billion-dollar cash cow. It's also the fastest and most concise means of communicating just about any message that we have in the world today.

    Twelve and a half percent more ruthless in its strictures of efficiency even than a standard text message, Twitter is also a tricky medium: It's hard to sound smart, be funny or even avoid conflict in 140 characters.

    Not everyone can do it. Some of the game's shining lights and best minds are reduced to link machines when they take to Twitter.

    Others, though, are thriving, and if you're missing their wit and wisdom, you're not getting the most out of your baseball fan experience. Here are the 30 best tweeters for baseball nuts.

30. The Common Man (@commnman)

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    One half of The Platoon Advantage blog, The Common Man takes no prisoners when he disagrees with a viewpoint on Twitter.

    It was he who began a campaign in defense of Jeff Bagwell last month, when unfair allusions to possible PED use hindered the former first baseman's Hall of Fame candidacy.

    Right there on Twitter, he called those who slandered Bagwell "suspected plagiarists" for their apparent inability to think the issue through independently of one another.

    In trivia, The Common Man is not his given name.

29. Bill (@Bill_TPA)

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    Every platoon needs two solid contributors, and Bill works delightfully well alongside The Common Man.

    After taking issue with a national writer of traditionalist tastes recently on an issue of using stats properly, he briefly became @Saber_Boy.

    It was hilarious, but also the sort of scathing satire the The Platoon Advantage has raised to an art. Bill's name, too, remains shrouded in secrecy.

28. Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal)

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    As the lead national reporter and columnist for FOX Sports on MLB, Rosenthal is a must-follow for his sources, his insider knowledge and his aptitude for breaking stories.

    He's more tolerable than many beat writers, too, because he is unafraid to offer analysis and insight in addition to rumor and player quotes.

    Rosenthal reports aggressively, sometimes throwing out rumors with obvious flaws, but he has a knack for delivering reliable information even when it appears unreliable at first glance.

27. Wendy Thurm (@hangingsliders)

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    Based in San Francisco, Thurm turned in a legal and political career for more time with her kids several years ago, and now writes both for her personal blog (three guesses what it's called) and a little site called FanGraphs.

    Thurm has something to say on virtually every baseball movement, which is fun, but her expertise is with all things Giants.

    Follow her for constant analysis as the team with the most to lose and gain during arbitration season goes about its business.

26. Colin Wyers (@cwyers)

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    It's Colin Wyers' job to be over-informed on baseball things. He is the director of research at Baseball Prospectus.

    He brings that love of information and objective measurement to bear on Twitter whenever a key signing or trade goes down.

    Wyers is a cutting analyst but never takes the exchanges on the site too seriously. He's someone whose opinion should carry weight on virtually all MLB transactions.

25. Mike Fast (@fastballs)

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    Fast is the resident Pitch f/x guru at Baseball Prospectus, among other things.

    His insightful explorations into unmeasured (but measurable) corners of the game make him the modern-day, high-tech Bill James. At least, he has that potential.

    Fortuitously named and armed with the ability to hone his databases and extract revolutionary tidbits therefrom, Fast brings the most original research available to Twitter.

24. Dan Evans (@DanEvans108)

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    One of the great travesties of the Frank McCourt era in Los Angeles Dodgers history was the fairly unfounded firing of Dan Evans as the team's GM.

    Evans has never allowed that to faze him, though, and now works the other side of negotiating tables as a player agent.

    He tweets mostly about systemic, big-picture issues surrounding the game, but does it all with vigor enough so as never to be boring.

23. C.J. Wilson (@str8edgeracer)

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    Wilson is not the type who has to change his handle to get rid of his team name when he signs elsewhere, as he did this winter. He is an individual, independent mind, and a smart guy.

    He seems to thoroughly enjoy catching interviewers and Twitter questioners off their guard, and a lot of his tweets meander away from baseball altogether. Sometimes, though, that's okay.

    Wilson is a fun follow, first and foremost.

22. Dave St. Peter (@TwinsPrez)

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    If anything, this ranking underrates Minnesota Twins President Dave St. Peter.

    He shows unprecedented candor in fan-question sessions on the site, is unafraid to shoot back when some fans snipe at the way the Twins do baseball, and yet is thoroughly friendly and informative.

    No true insider (read: front-office guy) anywhere in the game is more willing to talk shop on Twitter.

21. Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi)

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    Like partner Rosenthal, Morosi brings more to the table than sheer reportage. He nails the big stories, writes with a solid verbal foundation and knows the game really well. He will be the next Rosenthal, assuming the window ever opens.

    In the meantime, the two often co-write columns, but each is willing to give their own supporting evidence, or even disagree about their subjects. Following Morosi is a key to being on top of the latest changes to all big-league rosters.

20. Jeff Sullivan (@LookoutLanding)

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    Jeff Sullivan has been doing great things in the sports blogosphere for years now, long enough and well enough that Rob Neyer culled him as a key point person when Neyer joined SB Nation and began helping them expand ambitiously in their baseball coverage.

    Sullivan thinks about the game with a clear mind and sees it with a cold eye, which allows him to find great opportunities for witty comments on big moves or issues. 

    For a flavor of Sullivan, listen to the podcast he recorded this week with FanGraphs.

19. Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN)

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    This one should be obvious. As a columnist for the Worldwide Leader, Olney is a leading voice on the frontier of every major issue. Yet, his opinions form over time as he collects data.

    Too many reporters get set in one opinion, or series of opinions, but Olney always feels unafraid to change.

    He's fun to follow for his fan-like reactions to some plays, as well as for his relationship with great baseball people.

18. Jay Jaffe (jay_jaffe)

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    Jaffe is a Hall of Fame guru and general stathead, working for Baseball Prospectus. He also has a mustache.

    Following him grants access to both statistical and historical perspective at key moments in the Hot Stove season, and to instant analysis when a manager totally blows his bullpen management during the year.

17. Dave Brown (@AnswerDave)

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    Brown contributes to Yahoo! Sports, and he is excellent on Twitter. Something like half his tweets involve snark, whether he is illuminating the stupidity of a question or merely having fun with words.

    He is also prolific, which is a prerequisite to be a fun follow on Twitter.

16. Joe Sheehan (@joe_sheehan)

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    Sheehan is a Baseball Prospectus co-founder, co-host of "The Baseball Show with Rany and Joe" podcast and professional loudmouth. He has firm opinions on everything, but he has fun with them, and his comedic delivery works.

    His insights in 140 characters bite like snakes, but one truly appreciates his mind for baseball only after reading his very thorough and smart newsletter.

15. Christina Kahrl (@ChristinaKahrl)

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    Another BP co-founder, Kahrl was once famous for her verbosity. She did exhaustive analysis (blended with arcane historical information) for Prospectus once upon a time, and still has that sort of work in her.

    Years after leaving BP, though, Kahrl has learned the value of using one word where two would do. Sharpened to a point by the forum, her wit is piercing.

14. Zachary Levine (@zacharylevine)

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    Saber-savvy, prospect-mad and a beat writer for an established newspaper, Levine is a rare breed in his profession.

    He covers the Houston Astros mostly, but because covering the Houston Astros just is not much fun, Levine also has plenty to say on wider MLB topics.

13. Rany Jazayerli (@jazayerli)

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    As one might guess, Jazayerli makes up the other half of "The Baseball Show with Rany and Joe." He, too, is a Prospectus co-founder, and has made a name for himself as a long-form artisan in baseball analysis.

    From long-winded apologias to very thorough studies on topics like pitcher abuse and the draft, Jazayerli has been used to writing to fill the space available to him.

    On Twitter, of course, that space is limited, but Jazayerli's commentary meets the challenge. He has an eye and an ear for the fact or argument that will most engage and persuade a reader. That's fun.

    He's also an unabashed (okay, somewhat abashed) Kansas City Royals fan, which allows for some healthy schadenfreude. 

12. Jason Parks (@ProfessorParks)

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    Parks changes his avatar semi-weekly, and it's usually a photo of someone else, so here's a picture of Josh Hamilton instead. Parks is, to be mild, not Hamilton's biggest fan.

    What Parks is is the co-host of Baseball Prospectus's "Up and In" podcast, the finest one on the web, and a prospect maven both for BP and elsewhere. '

    He is engaging on Twitter for his off-the-wall humor, his willingness to answer about any prospect question tossed his way and his peculiar periodic obsessions.

11. Logan Morrison (@LoMoMarlins)

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    Morrison's tweets are all over the map. One day, he is showing surprising insight into the art of hitting during fan Q & A sessions.

    The next, he is making rather lewd jokes and seeming somewhat disrespectful toward women. On the third, he gives personal, heartfelt support to the cause of a sick child or the like.

    Nobody's perfect, but Morrison is perfectly entertaining.

10. Dave Cameron (@d_a_cameron)

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    FanGraphs got Baseball Writers' Association of America accreditation for the first time this winter, due in huge part to the stellar work of Cameron.

    He is the lone full-time employee on the writing side of the site, but his quality outweighs their lack of quantity in coverage.

    He produces insightful and in-depth analyses of big moves remarkably quickly, and has a skill for condensing arguments to 140 characters. 

9. Jonah Keri (@jonahkeri)

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    Obsessed with the defunct Montreal Expos, Keri sometimes veers into the thoroughly arcane, but he makes it fun.

    He sees and illustrates trends and similarities in the building of baseball teams that hearken to years as recent as 2008, and as ancient as 1978.

    He's a fun follow, not least for his keen eye for a good link.

8. MLB Reports (@MLBReports)

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    Twitter, of course, is about interaction, and few accounts engender better interaction on hot-button issues than the one run by the folks at MLB Reports.

    Their opinions are informed, they do not stick so stubbornly to them as to get angry or combative, and they enjoy back-and-forth.

7. Keith Law (@keithlaw)

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    I'm no apologist for cooking tweets, and one must be forewarned: Keith Law occasionally lapses there, and into tweets about terrible television shows.

    On the other hand, the ESPN Insider writer has as well-balanced an understanding of the game as any active Twitter user.

    He knows and loves numbers, but he also knows and loves scouting, player development and prospects. That blend is exceedingly rare, and usually done poorly when it exists. Law is the exception.

6. Old Hoss Radbourn (@OldHossRadbourn)

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    Because baseball should be fun, and because Twitter should be fun, this account is there for all of us.

    The ghost of Old Hoss Radbourn (he of the 59-12 record in 1884) tweets mostly about whatever he damn well pleases. Things like this, in response to news that Cleveland Indians pitcher Fausto Carmona is not really Fausto Carmona:

    Confession time: my real name is Seamus O'Riordan. I have denied my Irishness for far too long. Also, I was born in 1850, not 1854.

5. Brandon McCarthy (@BMcCarthy32)

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    Aside from being one of the most underrated hurlers in MLB today, McCarthy is witty, has diverse interests and does not engage in the boastful chest-thumping or flirting that define far too many of the accounts run by other players in baseball.

    He's also outspoken and independent, as seen when he mourned the loss of his teammates to trades this winter.

4. Sam Miller (@SamMillerOCR)

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    Here is perhaps all you need to know about Sam Miller's prowess on Twitter: I didn't even realize I wasn't following him until this week. That's how often he gets retweeted.

    He is hilarious, has a knack for the right number and knows how to ask the right question. 

3. Jason Martinez (@MLBDepthCharts)

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    The website Jason Martinez runs churns out updated depth charts and other content reacting to moves around MLB faster than anyone else on the Web. That includes ESPN, and, well, everyone else.

    It's a Herculean effort, and Martinez does have help, but the feed he and his fellows run would be remarkably useful even for a team of 10 writers.

    It's a must-follow for anyone who wants to begin scrawling those back-of-the-envelope lineups and starting rotations (or prospect lists) in the wake of big deals.

2. Michael Schlact (@michael_schlact)

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    He's not a prospect, per se. Michael Schlact is no star in the making. He pitched for Southern Maryland of the independent Atlantic League in 2011, and even there, struck out only 3.2 batters per nine innings pitched.

    What Michael Schlact is, though, is a thinking man with character and class. He makes his followers think, with a fresh take on many issues in baseball and the ability to express them concisely and creatively.

    He's funny, but always sincere, and should be followed as a reminder that the glamour of the playoffs and TV deals and the rest of MLB are not nearly as instructive to the average person as observing the continued pursuit of a dream on fields with only corn fields or freeways beyond the outfield walls.

1. Kevin Goldstein (@Kevin_Goldstein)

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    The other half of "Up and In," Goldstein also meanders too often into cooking, but his tweets in that vein are less snobbish than those of Law. He has fun with everything, from politics to movies to (especially) prospects.

    He isn't afraid to rib his followers a bit when he gets the preposterous trade proposals that are an inevitable byproduct of the profession, but he isn't rude or dismissive.

    Following Goldstein is the easiest way to get an immediate, interesting take on baseball news as it happens.