Dodgers: Ranking Dontrelle Willis, Jessica Mendoza, and Eric Karros as Analysts

Dodgers fans have noticed a big change to the team’s road television broadcasts this year. When LA hits the road, fans don’t get their daily dose of Joe and Orel. Prior to the start of the season, SportsNet LA announced that they’re employing a rotation of Eric Karros, Dontrelle Willis, and Jessica Mendoza alongside Davis for LA road games.

Don’t worry fans, The Bulldog will still continue to call home games.

Fans got their first real taste of the D-Train in the booth during the team’s recent road trip that included series in Chicago and Pittsburgh. Karros and Mendoza have also thrown some innings in the color commentator’s chair this year, but so far, fans are all aboard the D-Train.

There’s still plenty of season left, but here’s this writer’s way-too-early rankings of the three new broadcasters.

3. Eric Karros

Karros does a fine job in the booth alongside Joe Davis. A former UCLA Bruin and one of the best Dodgers first baseman of the last 30 years – what’s not to love? The 1992 NL rookie of the year has a wealth of experience from his time with Fox Sports.

He’s the quintessential former-player-turned-analyst who tends to keep his commentary pretty old school. Older fans probably enjoy Karros more than the younger Dodgers generation since Karros doesn’t quite bring the same sizzle as Willis.

2. Jessica Mendoza

Mendoza was a surprising addition to the broadcast team since there wasn’t even a whisper that she was coming over to SNLA prior to the March announcement. She spent multiple years as an analyst on Sunday Night Baseball and also served as a special adviser for the Mets. 

The knock on Mendoza is that she and Davis are still developing their chemistry. Mendoza and Davis have plenty of potential to call a great game, but right now, it’s like watching doubles partners in tennis who have never shared the court before. There’s been plenty of times when the two awkwardly fumble over each other during the course of a game. 

1. Dontrelle Willis

The D-Train is the people’s champion right now. His energy and more modern baseball experience, as opposed to Karros, has quickly endeared him to fans. Willis’ baseball career was a wide spectrum of successes and failures. He can relate to every player on the field, whether it’s an upstart youngster, Cy Young caliber starter, or a journeyman player trying to keep his baseball career alive. He been to the mountain top, and he’s been to the valley.

Willis has a looser broadcasting style and is quick with a story or a joke which is why most Dodgers fans have enjoyed his analysis. 

Plus, his reaction to trying Chicago deep dish for the first on-air from the booth at Wrigley was pure television gold. 

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  1. I caught a glimpse of Karros work, he seemed okay in the few minutes I saw.

    Mendoza doesn’t seem to realize she doesn’t need to try so hard to be ‘neutral’ she works for the home town team its okay to be a bit of a homer and fans are annoyed when she lavishes (deserved) praise on opponents. But all real problem is L.A. fans remember she seemed more concerned that Mike Fiers was a “snitch” rather than catching the horrendous post-season & World Series cheating scheme by the Astros.

    Dontrelle is fantastic. He talked a bit too much in the early going but seems to have toned it down. He says a lot of quotable stuff that could become trademarks, Joe Davis quoted D-Trains “they drive nice cars too” during a home game. Dontrelle mixes in some ‘homer’ spin which fans love, his Chicago pizza in the booth at Wrigley and his oogling over the Pittsburgh sandwich at PNC was fun and could be a fun regular feature!

  2. It is a very tough job to compete with Orel. At least, the former players add a certain perspective to the broadcast. It is not fair to expect Jessica to be able to add anything to the broadcast. She was terrible on the ESPN Sunday night telecasts. She was unprepared and everything she “added” was scripted. It is incompetent for management to put her in a position that requires knowledge of the event for which she has no experience. Show her the respect she deserves and use her skills for broadcasting a sport for which she is an expert — women’s collegiate softball. She would be terrific!

  3. Never understood why Sports LA had to hire any of them to be honest. Joe Davis is so awesome, he can call the game by himself, like Vin Scully used to. But if you must share the booth, then Hershiser is a fine compliment to JD. Don’t care for Jessica Mendoza one bit. She is way too technical and tries way too hard to explain every play. She is so annoying, I listen to the broadcast team on MLB TV when she’s in the booth. Poor JD, what did he do to deserve her.

  4. I disagree with these people who like to hear the cheerleading by the Dodgers announcers. Orel seems like the worst although Dontrelle is right up there with him. Vin was not a cheerleader and he was the all time best. Although, he doesn’t do the broadcasts anymore, Nomar was excellent.