Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas

I spent far more time than I ever intended on a reply to Jinaz's Hall of Fame WAR Comparison post over at Beyond the Boxscore. But what came out was interesting, so I'm sticking it up here and explaining it.

Back in the day, I made my Cumulative WAR by Age Graph in response to the same graphs that Jinaz used. Basically, the goal was to show the same data in a slightly different way, to tell a slightly different story. While the "nth best" season works great for normal progressions, it doesn't work so well when a player has an odd career (like one marred by injuries, or one interrupted by war). In cases like that, the cumulative WAR by age tells a much different story. Look at Bonds vs. Aaron for example.

Well this year, Adam Darowski introduced a tremendous Interactive 2011 Hall of Fame Ballot. So lots of people want to look at other careers in a similar way -- by tremendous (6+ WAR), good (3+ WAR), and better than nothing (0+ WAR) seasons. Sky Kalkman came up with a version combining Jinaz's line graph with Adam's radar graph.

Something about it struck me as a bit off, and counter-intuitive. I couldn't figure out why exactly, so in trying to explain it, I worked out a solution of my own:

Seasons with negative WAR have been removed. There are some good points and bad points about this graph. The big negative is that you can only compare two players. On the plus side, it shows not only how many 6+ WAR a player had, but also how many seasons with over 6 WAR a player had. That can help you get another dimension in the data -- did the player have a long peak of consecutive seasons over 6 WAR? Did they have a tremendous fluke of a 10 WAR season and sink back to 5+ after that?

I don't know how much use this will actually have to most people, but it is a different way to compare players, so I figured I'd put it up.

Image is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution, Non-Commercial License. Original graph was created in Excel and then prettied up in Adobe Illustrator.


  1. Happy New Year!

    I have a different suggestion for comparing Morris and Blyleven: a Dot Plot. I compared dot plots to tornado charts (a name for the bidirectional bar chart you used) in

    Tornado charts have several shortcomings. You already noted that you can only compare two players, and that you had to omit negative values. More problematic is that the bars go in opposite directions, so direct comparisons are cognitively very difficult.

    I've posted a dot plot comparing Morris and Blyleven at (I've neglected to label the chart other than the players' names.) Feel free to copy it to your site and paste it into this or any other post.

    The dot plot shows these two players clearly, and you could add more easily enough (making sure to stop before the chart is overly cluttered). You can actually see that Blyleven had eight seasons better than Morris' best. You'd need a ruler to determine that with the tornado chart.

  2. Actually, it seems my dot plot is a 90-degree rotation of the line charts in the article by Jinaz. I should have read all of the pages you cited before posting.