Strikeouts on the Upswing

Strikeouts are an important part of baseball. They are the moments where the pitcher wins the duel between pitcher and batter that is the essential element of baseball. But over the years the game has seen more and more batters striking out more often. Earlier this year the New York Times looked at the rising rates of strikeouts in a story supported by interactive data visualisation components.

Strikeouts on the upswing
Strikeouts on the upswing

Like the piece on Bryce Harper, this piece on strikeouts is more of a narrative with the interactive graphics supporting the written words. It is not as lengthy as the Washington Post’s piece, but this one is far more interactive as the user can select his or her favourite teams and follow their performance over time.

Credit for the piece goes to Shan Carter, Kevin Quealy and Joe Ward.

Bryce Harper

Bryce Harper is undoubtedly one of the best baseball players in the game today. To put it simply, he hits. And he hits well. And he hits well often. So the Washington Post put together an interactive, long form piece about Harper’s swing and hitting.

Pitching to Bryce Harper
Pitching to Bryce Harper

The piece begins with a narrated video outlining the science behind Harper’s swing. Then the reader can down into the piece and learn more about Harper’s history and development and how he compares to other hitters. Statistics and data visualisation pieces show just how impressive Harper is as a hitter and how pitchers are trying to combat that.

Interactive long form articles are appearing more and more often online. But this is perhaps the most data- and science-intensive piece I have seen thus far. What is particularly nice about the format is that, as I have often noted, annotations and explanations are what make good infographics and what move data visualisation from presentational to informational. That this piece in particular happens to be about baseball, well, all the better.

Credit for the piece goes to Adam Kilgore, Sohail Al-Jamea, Wilson Andrews, Bonnie Berkowitz, Todd Lindeman, Jonathan Newton, Lindsay Applebaum, Karl Hente, Matthew Rennie, John Romero, and Mitch Rubin.

More Cicadian Rhythms

On Tuesday I shared with you some work by Jonathan Corum at the New York Times on the 17-year cicadas now starting to emerge back east. (And as I recall from my childhood, I assure you that they are quite loud.) Today we look at an illustration of the cicada life cycle via the Washington Post.

As I discussed the other day about other graphics, there are differences in how the two newspapers are presenting the same topic or subject matter. The New York Times piece concerns itself with the emergence over time of cicadas across the United States and links to historical articles about those events. Here, however, the Washington Post instead explains just how you get a seventeen-year period between emergences.

Additionally, the Washington Post maps near the end are not interactive as in the New York Times piece. But what this allows the Post to do is focus on those broods that impacted the Washington area instead of all those areas likely outside the Post’s core readership.

The Washington Post's explanation of the periodical cicadas
The Washington Post's explanation of the periodical cicadas

Credit for the piece goes to Patterson Clark.

The Economies of Europe

Cyprus has been in the news over the course of this past week because its financial system almost brought the country to bankruptcy. And that has meant trouble for European markets. So now it’s time to look at the economies of Europe once again. And the National Post has done a great job using clear and concise small multiples to examine key metrics for the ten largest European economies—not necessarily EU economies mind you. But at the end of each row, they summed up the country’s outlook in just one or two sentences.

Cropping of the overview for Europe's largest economies
Cropping of the overview for Europe's largest economies

Credit for the piece goes to Richard Johnson, Grant Ellis, John Shmuel, and Andrew Barr.

Pro Tip #314: Don’t Stare Into the Sun

Don’t stare into the sun. It’ll burn your eyes out, kid. Okay, so maybe that’s a stretch of a reference, but, seriously, don’t. Let the professionals do it with (properly shielded) telescopes and such. This piece from the New York Times looks at a solar flare from 2012 and shows how quickly it developed. The bottom of the piece then shows the reader the frequency of solar minimums and maximums along with some explanatory graphics about just what flares and sunspots are and how they are created.

Also note the centre panel in the top row for the relative size of Earth. Yeah, who’s feeling big now? (Not me.)

Don't stare into it…
Don't stare into it…

Credit for the piece goes to Jonathan Corum.

2012 Was the Hottest Year on Record

2012 was the hottest year since 1895. That’s 117 years by my count. Of course just being the hottest year ever recorded does not mean everywhere was warmer than usual. Some places were cooler. And the New York Times looked at the US pattern of warmer and cooler than average temperatures. Below the map are small multiples of charts recording the number of days above or below the normal for that day.

That's a lot of warmer than average temperatures…
That's a lot of warmer than average temperatures…

And for anecdotal evidence, I will say that this past summer was godawfully hot in Chicago.

Congressional Redistricting

The New York Times looks at who controlled the redistricting of US congressional seats because of the 2010 census. It then showed an example in North Carolina where Republican control led to the state being less competitive in the past for Democrats. In 2010, Democrats held 7/13 seats in North Carolina. But after the redistricting, in 2012 the Democrats held only 4/13. And all of this is done in a small, compact space. This is a very effective graphic.

Redistricting
Redistricting

Credit for the piece goes to Tom Giratikanon.

Canadian Debt

Canada, along with Australia, was one of the few Western, industrialised economies to weather the global recession of 2008 fairly well. However in recent years, despite the economic boom in the energy-rich western provinces, many of Canada’s provinces have been accumulating substantial—though not yet crippling—levels of debt. Toronto’s National Post explores the federal and provincial situation using small (or perhaps medium-sized) multiples.

Canada's debt
Canada's debt

Credit for the piece goes to Richard Johnson.

Palestine

With Palestine admitted to the United Nations as a non-member observer state, the Middle East tensions between Israel and Palestine have reached a new level. Regardless, Palestine may now have access to international institutions and is closer to being a recognised, sovereign state. Toronto’s National Post published a large infographic looking at the state of Palestine and how the two non-contiguous territories of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip compare to each other.

An infographic looking at Palestine
An infographic looking at Palestine

Credit for the piece goes to Richard Johnson.

Taxes

Let’s face it, governments need money to function. If you want a large military, you have to fund it. If you want pension system, you have to fund it. If you want medical care for the old, the sick, and the poor, you have to fund it. If you want to give everyone unicorns made of rainbow beams, you have to fund it. And…well…nevermind.

The point is taxes. After an election that focused so heavily on them, we’re still debating them. But here are some facts about them from the New York Times. The designers, Mike Bostock, Matthew Ericson, and Robert Gebeloff used small multiples of line charts—and lots of them—to look at who pays taxes by income band and how they pay different types of taxes. I found particularly interesting the points made near the bottom of the piece about how the progressive tax system is increasingly less so.

How the American tax system is becoming less progressive
How the American tax system is becoming less progressive

But how do these taxes compare to spending? In a separate graphic for the same article, a stacked bar chart compares revenue to expenditure. With the exception of the balanced budget during President Clinton’s administration, we have been outspending our revenue since 1980. While statements to the effect of the US national budget needs to be managed like a US household budget are both overly simplistic and naive, there is a truth in a long-term mismatch between revenue and expenditure might cause problems. That is why many see the deficit and our debt as a medium-term problem facing the United States.

Spending versus revenue
Spending versus revenue

Credit for the first piece goes to Mike Bostock, Matthew Ericson, and Robert Gebeloff.