Friday, April 23, 2010
Visual Baseball: Ranking the AL EAST Starting RotationsPosted by Kevin Dame
Hi there. I've been experimenting with ways to visualize starting rotations using the Rankometer format. Here are two approaches I'm playing with:
APPROACH #1 ranks starters by ERA and puts these rankings into 5 tiers (each tier consisting of 14 pitchers). The first tier consists of the 14 best starters in the AL, and a pitcher in this tier could be described as "pitching like a #1 starter." Pitchers in tier 2 (the next best 14 starters in the AL) could be described as "pitching like #2 starters," and so on. So if you're a Yankee fan you could look at your rotation with this version of the Rankometer and say "Right now we've got three #1 starters, a #2 starter, and a #5 starter." So this is a simple, at a glance way to sum up a rotation.
APPROACH #2 is based on the idea of rotations being matched up head-to-head. In a theoretical 5-game series between two teams, each team would trot out their best starters for Game 1, their second best starters for Game 2, and so on. Using this philosophy, in column one (entitled BEST STARTER) we list each team's best starter, ranked by ERA. In column 2 we list each team's second best starter, and so on. So if you're a Red Sox fan, your takeaway is "Right now our best starter is about average, but our #2,3,4 and 5 starters stink relative to the rest of the AL." So this flavor of Rankometer allows you to sum up a rotation in a slightly different way. It also uses the graphic equalizer metaphor to communicate a rotation's strength.
Each approach communicates slightly different things and has its advantages & disadvantages. Which do you like better?
APPROACH #1: Starter Rankings
APPROACH #2: Rotation Rankings
"The commonality between science and art is in trying to see profoundly - to develop strategies of seeing and showing." - Edward Tufte.
Feel free to send comments, questions, and suggestions to Kevin via email.