Tableau Public Baseball Pilot Complete

A few weeks back I posted about using Tableau Public to explore baseball stats, specifically with respect to building dashboards to display information. At the time I had created a very rough first pass at the dashboard, with lots of small multiple tables displaying info on a single page. I quickly realized it was a bit overwhelming, so I sought a better solution.

The new version is an improvement, albeit imperfect due to some Tableau limitations. Users can now select a single chart to display in a large, single window using radio buttons. Really easy, and there are a lot of additional filters available on each page to customize the chart to display the results you want. All of this comes with one catch, however. Even when a given chart is not being displayed, it still uses up a handful of pixels on the vertical screen. This forces some charts to display a bit lower on the screen than others, a minor annoyance I spent some time trying unsuccessfully to solve. That’s why you’ll find the offensive categories split into two tabs rather than one.

All of the offensive category charts are displayed using dot plots with dotted lines and small filled circles as the display devices. This proves to be an effective, low-ink manner that compares favorably to bar charts in this case. Dot plots allow for an axis range that doesn’t need to start at 0, which proper bar charts always should (it has to do with the visual perception of the bar size relative to other bars) do. There are many horrendous examples on the web, particularly those produced by major media outlets that distort data either accidentally or intentionally. So dot plots give us an edge for this sort of display.

The third tab displays distributions of various offensive statistics using scatter plots, which again benefit from their ability to use flexible axis ranges based on the displayed values. Once again, there are many filters that let you play to your heart’s content, using team, position, season, and so on to reduce your dataset and answer questions quickly.

Here’s the updated version, to be followed at some point by a full 1871-2014 dashboard:

Direct link is found here.

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Ken Cherven is the Founder and Curator of the 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.