Some of the Best Baseball I’ve Ever Seen

Was ten years ago this time in October. Boston was on their way to winning their World Series in 86 years. But to get there, they had to go through the New York Yankees. And they did it in dramatic fashion, winning a riveting best-of-seven series. Why riveting? Because it had never been done before. (Nor since, actually, but that’s not included in the graphic.)

The improbable comeback
The improbable comeback

Hitting a Baseball

Tonight is Game 5 of the National League Championship Series. For those of you who do not follow baseball, this is the semi-finals for the national championship called the World Series. Anyway, hitting a baseball is hard because you have so little reaction time. The Wall Street Journal has an article about how some baseball teams are beginning to experiment with neuroscience. The idea is to better train hitters to recognise pitches earlier, in essence, giving them said reaction time. The article is accompanied by an illustration showing just how little time there is to hit a pitch.

Think quickly
Think quickly

Credit for the piece goes to Mike Sudal.

Ballpark Beer

This evening I am going to be taking in a game at Fenway. So I leave you with today’s blog post comparing beer at different ballparks.

Fenway vs. Citizens Bank
Fenway vs. Citizens Bank

Credit for the piece goes to Kevin Schaul, Kelyn Soong, and Dan Steinberg

Tommy John Surgery

Time for some sports. Okay, I’m admittedly thinking of it because company softball started up again. And for some reason, the teams have a horrible habit of horrendous injuries. So what better way to commemorate (a week late, whatever) the start of the season than a nice illustration of Tommy John surgery. For those of you unfamiliar with it, in baseball the injury that requires the procedure typically befalls pitchers—though not always—and keeps them away from the game for at least a year.

Tommy John surgery
Tommy John surgery

Credit for the piece goes to Bonnie Berkowitz and Alberto Cuadra.

John Lester Dominates

This past weekend was some good Red Sox baseball. Okay, so we only won two of three from Oakland, but that second game was fantastic. John Lester dominated. Last fall I mentioned a studio called Statlas that was visualising the World Series. They continue to update and tweak their product and so it was great to see Lester’s performance documented.

Lester dominates
Lester dominates

Though, as you can see, Lester so dominated the Athletics, you can see almost nothing happening from Oakland’s batters. But, I will skip the near ninth-inning implosion of Boston’s relief corps that nearly cost us the game. Mostly because the visualisations of the game tell a great story. And so if you like baseball and data visualisation, you should check it out.

Credit for the piece goes to Statlas.

Baseball Nation

Baseball is back. And thankfully the New York Times has mapped out most of Major League Baseball’s fans. The glaring exception is, of course the omission of Canada/Ontario, home to the Toronto Blue Jays. The piece maps the data of Facebook likes down to the zip code and then offers details on a few border regions in particular.

Baseball nation, except Canada
Baseball nation, except Canada

And apparently back home, I am not the only person cheering for Boston.

I go for Boston, but most everyone else here is a Phillies phan
I go for Boston, but most everyone else here is a Phillies phan

Credit for the piece goes to Kevin Quealy, Josh Katz, David Leonhardt, and Tom Giratikanon.

There’s No Diversity in Baseball!

Well, okay, actually there is. But the cultural reference would have made even less sense if I omitted the negative. Anyway, in honour of the two baseball games I am seeing this week—last night’s and tonight’s Red Sox games—here comes this piece from Pew Research Center.

It’s a simple but fairly clear graphic. We are looking at the ethnic breakdown of baseball since 1947, when Jackie Robinson broke the colour barrier. My only qualm, as ever, with this stacked area chart is that while you can see the clear trend upward in white share, it is a bit more difficult to see the directions the other ethnicities are moving.

Diversity in baseball
Diversity in baseball

Credit for the piece goes to Pew Research Council.

Baseball Windows

Spring training has begun for baseball fans. The glow from the Red Sox victory last October is fading as we now wonder if we can repeat. Fans of other teams now wonder if this is their year. Over at SB Nation, an article plotted 29 baseball teams—ignoring the Dodgers— and looked at their chances in the upcoming years. The article continues using the chart to explain which teams fall where.

Baseball windows
Baseball windows

And for the designers, note the type choice for “Nope”.

Credit for the piece goes to Grant Brisbee.

Visualising the World Series

Last week the Boston Red Sox won the 2013 World Series. I did a wee bit of celebrating and so I did not have the chance to post today’s post until, well, today. A company called Statlas charted each game of the World Series. One of my coworkers pointed me in the direction of these visualisations, unfortuantely I missed out on most of them for the playoffs. Here, though, is when I started feeling a lot less nervous about Boston’s chances for winning Game 6.

When the Red Sox won the game and the World Series
When the Red Sox won the game and the World Series

There is a lot to see and look at in these games. And I will be curious to see where Statlas takes these—if they take them anywhere—for the 2014 season. Baseball is a game rich with statistics and data and teams and fans are increasingly using them to play and understand the play in the games. It’s about time somebody starts doing some valuable visualisations.

Credit for the piece goes to Statlas.

Baseball Payrolls

The World Series starts tomorrow night and for all but two teams, that means focusing on the upcoming 2014 roster. And rosters are often defined by payroll flexibility. A co-worker of mine forwarded along today’s interactive graphic that looks at team payrolls through stacked bar charts.

The Red Sox payroll
The Red Sox payroll

The design is certainly a bit clunky with heavy black outlines and garish colours. But the story told is clear, especially if you begin to look at different teams. Which teams have players locked up for the long-term and thereby have little flexibility?

The Red Sox, of course, sent most of that bar from 2011 to the Los Angeles Dodgers near the end of 2012. That allowed them to pick up the free agents like Mike Napoli, Johnny Gomes, Shane Victorino, and Koji Uehara. You know, the guys without whom the Red Sox would not have advanced to the World Series.

Credit for the piece goes to Phil Roth.