Introducing the 5 Tool Analyzer

Here’s a new visual that maps a player’s skill across the commonly accepted “5 tools” for position players.  This first graphic explains how it works:

Let’s take the 5 Tool Analyzer for a spin.  I was curious to see if I could find a player who was “perfectly average” in 2009 and I think I found him in Dave Murphy (he’s roughly at the 50th percentile across all 5 dimensions):

By now you’re probably wondering if there is a “perfect player” in baseball (a player who is the best across all 5 dimensions).  What I discovered was that most all-star players have at least one weak (or average) area.  But there were a few players who came close to perfection, and you’ll be surprised to see the one who came closest:

Chone Figgins was an intriguing example of a player who truly excels in all but one category (in his case power):

Adam Dunn’s visual map paints a classic portrait of an “all bat” player.  He has DH written all over him:

Jack Wilson represents the inverse of Dunn – an “all glove” player.

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Homage to Randy Johnson

Here’s a word cloud for Randy Johnson’s career strikeout victims.  Lots of batters abused by the Big Unit.

Josh Beckett’s 2009 Season

Continuing my “hot and cold” theme of late, here’s a visual of Josh Beckett’s 2009 season, with red indicating a quality start (minimum 6 innings pitched with no more than 3 earned runs allowed).  The squares represent innings completed, with earned runs allowed inside each inning.

How Red Sox Hitters Ranked in 2009

There’s been a lot of talk about how (and where) the Red Sox should upgrade their offense.  This visual paints a picture of the Red Sox lineup compared to the rest of the American League.  Note, Marco Scutaro is now the starting shortstop as of today.

Introducing the Rank-o-Meter!

A few days ago I posted some visuals showing the seasons of Zack Greinke, Felix Hernandez, and CC Sabathia.  I’ve made some changes to these visuals and wanted to share all three of them in succession.   I’m experimenting with something called the “Rank-o-meter,” (a bit cheesy, I know) which presents a simple concept: How hot (or cold) was a player relative to his peers.  Check out these three charts and let me know what they tell you about these three pitchers?  Did the Cy Young Award voters get it right?



Bringing Visualization to Baseball

Baseball has been around for awhile.  Over a hundred years, with a VAST treasure chest of information and history.  As a baseball fan I’ve often wondered why there was so little visualization of stats and other information.  It seems like most of baseball’s rich history has been communicated through rows and columns of data.  Not that I have anything against numbers, but shouldn’t we have progressed beyond this approach by now?  I got curious about progress, and looked back at how things have changed in our society since baseball was invented.

Take a look at how little the box score has changed since 1876!  It’s really the tip of the iceberg in terms of how little innovation there has been in the sport’s design and communication of information.  My hope is to be part of a revolution in changing the way baseball is viewed and understood by its fans.

Let’s put the CC Sabathia talk to rest

Looking at CC’s 2009 season, and comparing it to the same visuals for Felix Hernandez and Zack Greinke (below), it’s not even close.  CC was great down the stretch and in the postseason, but WAY too inconsistent to win a Cy Young award.


Felix Hernandez – Cy Young Award Winner?

Maybe.  Despite the award being a landslide, looking at Felix’ season visually (in the same way I did for Greinke earlier today) makes you wonder.  His season is eerily similar to Greinke’s -5 months of pitching like a #1, and one month of pitching like a #3.  Same level of sustained excellence.  In fact, for the last 4 months of the season, he was better than Greinke.


How good was Zack Greinke in 2009?

Here’s a visual breakdown of Zack Greinke’s 2009 season.  If you’ve seen past posts from me, you’ll notice that I am interested in exploring new ways to view and understand the game of baseball besides looking at numbers.  And while I’ve shown the actual numbers for Greinke’s monthly ERA on the left, the point of this graphic is to demonstrate his performance visually and relative to the rest of the American League starters.   Think of it as a performance bar chart.   Some conclusions from this visual? First, we see that with the exception of June, Greinke was at the very top of all American League starters in ERA each month.  He was amazingly consistent – if you look at other “aces” throughout baseball, it’s rare to see them pitch like a true #1 (the first cluster in each month column) EVERY month.  So Greinke pitched like an ace for 5 months, and a #3 starter for one month.  He also started and finished strong – as THE best starter in the American League.  If you’re interested in comparing Greinke to his CY Young competitors (CC Sabathia, Felix Hernandez, and Justin Verlander), you can look more closely at the names above and below Greinke each month and you’ll see none of them came close to his relative excellence and consistency.


Do Baseball Players Need Shrinks?

Here’s a look at the difference (psychologically) between being baseball’s best and worst teams.  A Yankee player leaves the ballpark with a high probability of a win (and a smile on his face).  In stark contrast, a guy toiling away for the Nationals leaves the ballpark with a frown on his face two-thirds of the time.  What’s interesting to note, though, is that even the very best teams still lose a lot, supporting the old adage that baseball is truly a game of failure.

2009 happiness meter

2009 New York Yankees Season at a Glance

Here’s a look at the World Champion New York Yankees 2009 Season.  In a sport where even the best teams suffer their share of ups and downs, the Yankees played remarkably well for the vast majority of the season, especially in the second half.  If it wasn’t obvious enough, the red color indicates the team playing well, and blue representing a slump (measured by week-to-week win percentage).

2009 yankee season


Pettitte and Hamels in the Postseason

This graphic shows the postseason track records of tonight’s Game 3 lefties.  The experience factor is clearly in Pettitte’s favor, but what’s most remarkable is the number of quality starts he’s given the Yankees over the last 14 years (shown in red).  An amazing run, including this postseason’s 3  quality starts over the Twins and Angels.  Note, Hamels did not submit a quality start in any of his 3 outings this postseason.  The track record points to a win by Pettitte tonight.

pettitte and hamels


Phillies pitching vs. Yankee hitting

Here’s a graphic which matches the Phillies Game 1 and 2 starters – Cliff Lee and Pedro Martinez – against the Yankee lineup. Red means the matchup favors the Phillies, blue means the Yankees are favored, and gray means a wash. Both pitchers have faced these hitters a number of times (line width = # of at bats), but Pedro has fared much better than Lee. Of course, much of Pedro’s success came several years ago when he was a better pitcher. We’ll see in Game 2 if Pedro can cheat father time once again in this post season.

Lee and Pedro vs Yanks


Andy Pettitte vs. the Angels

Here’s a graphic showing Andy Pettitte’s track record against tonight’s expected Angels batting order.  As evidenced by the predominance of blue, Pettitte has had his way with this lineup for the most part.

pettitte vs angels

Then again, if there’s one thing I’ve learned from watching baseball over the last 3o years, it’s “expect the unexpected.”


Scott Kazmir Owns the Yankees

Check out the Yankees’ lineup against Scott Kazmir lifetime.  Yanks may have their hands full tonight.

Kazmir Ownage

Who is Scott Kazmir?

Tonight’s Angels starter Scott Kazmir is an enigma.  A young talented lefthander traded inexplicably from the Rays to the Angels has been a Godsend for Mike Scioscia.  Here’s a visual of Kazmir’s rollercoaster season, ending in a very strong September and October.

Kazmir Season

October Jitters: Which Yankees are rising to the occasion?

Here’s a visual representation of the Yankee lineup, comparing regular season and post-season OPS (on base percentage + slugging percentage).  As usual Jeter has stepped up his game (as had A-rod, which is not so usual).  And Matsui and Posada are their typical steady selves.  How long can these 4 guys carry the Yankees offense?

Yankee Jitters

How Good Are the Phillies?

Here’s a graphic of how the Phillies compare with the rest of the NL.

Phillies Team Rankings

How Good Are The Dodgers?

Here’s the same graphic for the Dodgers.

Dodgers Team Rankings

How Good Are the Angels?

Here’s a graphic showing how the Angels rate as a team relative to the rest of the American League.  I used 5 measures – Batting Average, Home Runs, Stolen Bases, Earned Run Average, and Errors Allowed.  At a quick glance you can get a sense of where the Angels’ strengths and weaknesses are.

Angels Team Rankings


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