NEW Interactive Rankometer!!

Hi there. I’m back from hibernation with my first interactive visual. Click on the image below and try it out! As always, comments / suggestions are appreciated.  (For those of you who may not be familiar with Rankometer and how it works, I’ve added a brief description further down in this post).

Rankometer is a tool that helps you get a quick visual snapshot of a team (in this case the pitching staff) by ranking each of its 5 starting pitchers and 2 best relievers. Rankometer is based on the philosophy of comparing players relative to their peer group and ranking them accordingly. For the starting rotation, we look at each team’s best starting pitcher (described in the first column as #1 STARTER) and rank them based on a chosen stat (in this case we are using an advanced metric called xFIP which is an adjusted earned run average stat). We do the same for each team’s second best starter, third best starter, and so on. The same is done for the team’s best 2 relievers (using a stat called Win Probability Added). With this basic ranking structure in place, we can select any team and see a visualization of how that team’s pitching staff ranks relative to other staffs in the league. Rankometer does this by shading a column below each pitcher on the chosen team, creating a graphic equalizer effect that indicates how good a pitching staff is (tall bars indicate high rankings, low bars indicate low rankings). One additional note: I’ve been updating the stats manually (I haven’t figured out yet how to do that automatically) so the data is a few weeks old.  In the future I’d like to have the data updated on a daily basis).

PlayerShaper looks at Ryan Braun

PlayerShaper looks at a player’s strengths across 4 key areas and measures those strengths relative to the rest of the league. For hitters, PlayerShaper looks at on base percentage, power, speed, and defense. Click on the image for a closer look!

Visualizing Game Score

You may have heard of Game Score, a Bill James stat that quantifies the quality of a pitcher’s start, incorporating a number of measures such as number of innings, runs allowed, strikeouts, hits, walks, and so on.  A score of 100 is about as good as it gets, and a 50 is about average.  Here are a few pitchers from 2010:

Is Andy Pettitte a Hall of Famer?

Hi there. I’m back after a prolonged offseason hibernation. Over the last several months there’s been a fair amount of the annual “Is he a Hall of Famer” debate. There’s the “the numbers tell me” argument, which tends to help players like Bert Blyleven. And there’s the “my eyes tell me” argument, which tends to favor players like Jack Morris. Here’s a fusion of the two, using our “eyes” to look at “the numbers” courtesy of Rankometer.

With Rankometer, we examine a pitcher’s career by visualizing how his WAR stacked up against his peers each season. Since a Hall of Famer should be performing at an elite level, we look at the top 30 starting pitchers in each season, since they would seemingly represent the “elite” (each team’s ace, the top 20 percent, however you want to look at it). So let’s take Rankometer for a spin and see what our eyes tell us.

Let’s first look at a first ballot Hall of Famer, Greg Maddux. What do my eyes tell me? He was the best among the best for a long stretch. Consistent dominance for an extended period of time. The big block of color says “Hall of Famer” to me.

Now let’s look at a borderline candidate, Mike Mussina. Rankometer reveals a lesser pitcher than Maddux, but still an elite pitcher for an extended period of time, with some off-years here and there. Hard to say with Mussina, but after looking at his Rankometer I am more of a believer.

Now, let’s look at Andy Pettitte. What do your eyes tell you when you look at his Rankometer? To me, the visual doesn’t come close to Mussina’s (let alone Maddux’s). I know we’re not considering his postseason resume, which this doesn’t capture (maybe a future revision could). But still, my eyes don’t tell me “Hall of Famer” when I look at this visual. What do you see?

Score Tracker compares the Giants and Rangers

Here’s a look at the Giants and Rangers, using Score Tracker to compare their wins and losses in the 2010 postseason. Like everything in Texas, the Rangers have done everything big, with only one game decided by 2 runs or less. In contrast, the Giants have been anything but Giant, taking more of a “conservationist” approach to their games. With the exception of their 6-1 loss and their 3-0 “blowout,” every game has been decided by 2 runs or less.


Here’s a look at the New York Yankees batting order, comparing regular season OPS with postseason OPS. Cano and Granderson have stepped up, while a parade of Yankees (led by A-Rod) has shrunk from the limelight.

Paintomatic looks at the Giants Starting Rotation

Here’s a look at the San Francisco Giants’ starting three for this series. It’s unclear why the Giants flipped Matt Cain and Jonathan Sanchez, but after looking at Paintomatic it does make some sense. For the most part, Tim Lincecum and Cain throw the same pitches, at roughly the same velocity and with similar frequency.

Phillies vs. Giants – It’s On!

2 great staffs.  The Giants have a slightly deeper rotation 1-5, and a better closer.  But facing Halladay has got to scare Giants fans…

Yankees Rangers – It’s On!

The Rangers would seem to have a big edge in their starting rotation on paper, but the Yankees have the benefit of starting with their best guy on the mound…

How Good Are The Giants?

A classic “pitching and defense” team.  But can they manage to get a hit off of Halladay, Oswalt, and Hammels?  And, if they do, can they get to home plate?

How Good Are The Yankees?

Gotta love the offense but the mediocre pitching and defense is somewhat disconcerting.  Then again, they pitched pretty damn well against the Twins…

Lee vs. Price – Game 5

Here’s a look at what Rangers and Rays hitters will have flying at them in tonight’s deciding Game 5.

Why the Yankees dropped AJ Burnett from the ALDS rotation

Paintomatic explains.  (For those not familiar with Paintomatic, each circle represents a pitch, the size indicating how often the pitch is thrown and the color indicating how effective the pitch is.)


Here’s a look at what the New York Yankees have done to the Minnesota Twins in their last four postseason series. Ugly, to say the least…unless you’re a Yankee fan.

Twins Yankees CASHCLOUD

I know this is the time of year when we put salaries and contracts aside and just play some ball, but I can’t let it rest. Until baseball corrects the vast payroll disparities between teams, I’m going to keep making CASHCLOUDS. And probably for a long time!

Tim Lincecum vs. the Braves

A look at how some of the Braves hitters have fared vs. Tim Lincecum in their careers. Lee and McCann have had the most success against The Freak…

Rangers and Twins AfterGlow

Today’s installment of AfterGlow features the remaining AL playoff contenders, the Rangers and Twins. The Rangers have come a long way since 2008, with major improvements in pitching and returning to where they were in 2006. (Note: some of the ranking data I used for these visuals is a few days old and some of the rankings have shifted a bit since then).

The Twins are another team that got where they are today via big improvements in pitching, although for the last 5 years they’ve consistently lived in “the better part of town” when it comes to pitching and defense.

Rays and Yankees AfterGlow

As promised, here’s the first of some daily doses of AfterGlow. Let’s start by previewing two of the AL’s playoff contenders, the Yankees and Rays. Both teams find themselves in a very similar place but have gotten there in very different ways. The Rays have had a dramatic rise to prominence, with sweeping improvements in both runs scored and runs allowed. Over the last 5 years their offense has improved steadily, as had their pitching & defense (with the exception of a 2009 setback).

The Yankees have been amazingly consistent over the last 5 years, especially with their offense.

Introducing AfterGlow

Happy Friday. Here’s a new visual that I’d like to take for a spin today. It’s pretty simple, plotting a team’s trajectory over the last 5 seasons in terms of runs scored and run allowed. Here’s a sneak peek at a team that has been heading in the wrong direction for several years. During the next week I can share more AfterGlow visuals as a way of previewing MLB’s 8 playoff teams.

New Look at MLB Standings

Here’s an attempt to look at MLB’s standings in a different way.  Features include: teams plotted vertically by win percentage and team payroll depicted by circle size.  Within each division I’ve selected one team whose payroll is closest to league average (depicted with a solid black line).


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