4 Years of Baseball Graphics Updates in 3 Days

To say that some of my website visuals were not quite up to date is a massive understatement. The latest version of the Game Summaries covered the 2009 season. The interactive pennant race charts ran through 2011, and the Batting Explorer exhibits end with the 2009 season. Not exactly current in any of these cases, and other examples abound. So what to do about it?

For starters, the underlying data so generously made available from the Retrosheet folks needed to be updated. Portions of this had been done over the last few years, but a bit haphazardly, as I came to find out over the last few days. Some tables were current through 2011, others through 2012 or 2013. In short, they were consistently inconsistent, and certainly not suited to creating the latest versions of the aforementioned visuals.

One of the best aspects of growing older (at least from a data perspective) is accumulating more and more code that makes it a bit less painful to update or repair database tables. I have managed to create and save dozens of code snippets that help me create, insert, update, select, and otherwise manipulate the data into a proper format for consumption by visualization tools. In some cases, this code made the process surprisingly easy, while other cases required dusting off the cobwebs to understand what my code was doing or not doing. In the end, the process worked remarkably swiftly, aided by the periodic Michigan microbrew, resulting in table updates that allowed me to tackle the pennant race and game summary projects, resulting in 23 new baseball graphics created in a 72-hour window.

Et voila, as the French might say, the Visual-Baseball site now has 18 new pennant race charts (3 years times 6 divisions) while the game summaries have five new entries covering the 2010 through 2014 seasons, and they all work as expected. The pennant race charts are built using D3 and NVD3 code atop .json data, while the Game Summary exhibits are created using Simile Exhibit, a semantic browsing tool, also sitting on .json data.

The pennant race charts look like this:


The charts are interactive in several ways – individual teams can be hidden from view, the chart is zoomable, and individual values can be displayed using mouseover capability. You can find the entire portfolio of more than 360 charts here.

Game summary exhibits cover 60 seasons and afford users many filtering options to search for games based on specific criteria – teams, pitchers, runs scored, and so on. Results can be viewed in a tabbed fashion or via a timeline. Here’s an example image:


The entire gallery is located here.

Have fun with both the pennant races and the game summaries, and make sure to check out a few of the other resources in the portfolio section. It feels as though the site is gradually becoming a unique resource for the visual interpretation of baseball data, whether it is in the form of conventional charts or more esoteric views such as the network graphs. Feel free to share any of the information on the site, and tell your friends and colleagues.

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Ken Cherven is the Founder and Curator of the Visual-Baseball.com website. He loves to merge baseball data with all sorts of visualization methods - charts, network graphs, maps, etc. to provide greater insight into underlying data patterns. Ken also authors books about baseball and visualization, and loves to listen to jazz while drinking some wine, craft beer, or bourbon.