Baseball has changed in the last twenty years or so. (And I’m old enough to recognise it.) Gone are the days of the high strikeout/high pitch count starts from the likes of Roger Clemens, Pedro Martinez, Randy Johnson, and Kerry Wood. In are high strikeout/low pitch count games…
What does that mean? You can read this article from FiveThirtyEight to make the most sense of it. But this chart explains part of it:
Basically, baseball is played with a lot more data than it used to be. We now know empirically that pitchers are most effective the first time through the lineup. Less so the second time. Even less so the third. The great pitchers, obviously, lose less effectiveness, but everybody does. So, if you can maximise your strikeouts (which come at a great cost of pitches thrown per arm—separate story that) by limiting a start to, say, twice through a lineup, you do so. Because then you can plug in hard-throwing relievers who, in their first and often only time through the lineup, can rack up a few strikeouts. So the result from that is higher strikeouts, lower pitch counts.
And that means that it is highly unlikely you will see games where a starting pitcher throws 120, 130, 140 pitches in a start and strikes out 16+ batters. Which is a shame, because I’m clearly old as those were my favourite ball games to watch.
Credit for the piece goes to the FiveThirtyEight graphics department.
We all know that I am a Red Sox fan. But I grew up in Philadelphia, largely before the era where the internet made watching out-of-market games a reality. That means I am quite familiar with my hometown Philadelphia Phillies. And for a good chunk of my life that meant names like Rollins, and Utley were familiar to me. So now as that group of players begins to retire and/or leave Philadelphia, we have Chase Utley underperforming to start 2015. But FiveThirtyEight asks the question: is he really? Or is it just that Utley is unlucky?
As Massachusetts and Maine celebrate Patriots’ Day, the Boston Red Sox are set to play their earliest game of the year with an 11.00 start time. (Yes, there is also a marathon today.) So after two weeks or twelve games, the question people want answered is what Red Sox do we get this year? FiveThirtyEight looked at what they called roller-coaster seasons of late, primarily using a box plot graphic to show just how much whiplash Boston fans have endured of late.
So who are the Red Sox this year? The cellar dwellers of 2012 and 2014? Or world champions like in 2013? Who knows?
(To be fair, I forgot to schedule to publish this post before I left somehow.)
Your humble author is still on holiday. So, today, you can enjoy a nice interactive piece from FiveThirtyEight that predicts the results of the 7 May general election. Of particular interest, the box part of the plot that shows the 90% confidence range.
The piece also has a choropleth map. My only feature request(s) would be to have a zoom feature for urban constituencies and/or to have a search field that allows the user to see the predicted results for a specific constituency.
Credit for the piece goes to Matthew Conlen and Ritchie King.
This week we have been looking at baseball (and Leonard Nimoy’s Star Trek). Today, we are going to turn to a sport I know nothing about: American football video games. Okay, so video games are not really a sport, but they are based on a sport. The reason I bring it up? FiveThirtyEIght has a really nice two-article story on how the Madden game franchise uses ratings to build characters for the game.
The above graphic is an interactive part of the story that lets you compare yourself to the real sports people, as estimated by the video game company. The second article in the story then builds upon that by using a reporter as a basis to test/understand the ratings.
And pay attention to the sidebar content. It’s actually worth heeding for once.
As election season begins to heat up, Five Thirty Eight looks at the probability of a Chris Christie candidacy. The scatter plot below examines the favourability and name recognition. The public knows the “brand” of Christie. But they do not have a favourable view of him. I would be curious how much of that is due to his East Coast-iness.
Travelling by plane can often be a hassle because getting from the airport to the destination is not always easy. Suffice it to say your humble author has—on a few occasions—been almost stranded at Philadelphia International because of no way to get where I was going. A lot of that comes down to poor public transit options. In my cases, it mostly stemmed from terrible weather delaying my flight until the wee hours of the morning after which train service stops.
Thankfully, Five Thirty Eight took a look at the public transit vs. car options for various cities/airports and seeing which option is faster. Ultimately Philly is awarded an honourable mention because the R1 (what some people now call the Airport Line) is convenient if your timing is right. Mine, obviously, has never been.
On New Year’s Eve, well technically in the wee hours of New Year’s Day, the group with which I was spending the holiday broke out Settlers of Catan. We played that game—and drank a few bottles of champagne—until 04.00. My experience of playing the game—not necessarily the part about being inebriated on New Year’s Eve—bears out the increasing popularity of board games. This article from FiveThirtyEight seeks to understand what makes particular board games popular. And, because I am mentioning it on this blog, it has a few charts worth noting.
I get that a lot of you like Christmas. That’s great. But for those of not terribly attached to it for more than the days off work, listening to music can switch from being relaxing to aggravating right quick. Thankfully we have FiveThirtyEight to examine just how ridiculous this all-Christmas-all-the-time trend has become.