Data Journalism Baseball Articles

Measuring the Depth of the Best and Worst Teams in the MLB

Rohan Narain ◆ July 23, 2018


So, let’s talk about the 2017 Giants.

What happened? A team glimmering with potential. A rotation with two aces set to dazzle the National League. An offense lead by Buster Posey, Brandon Belt, Brandon Crawford, and... Madison Bumgarner, I guess?

It's well-known that the Giants offense is floundering. They're dead last in OPS and wRC+, and 28th or lower in batting average and OBP. This team is absolutely atrocious when it comes to most offensive categories. That's been a well-established fact accepted by just about everyone..... Continue Reading

How To Save A Run?

Alex Garcia ◆ June 25, 2018

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In Major League Baseball’s past few seasons, there has been an increased emphasis placed on defense. “Saving runs” has become a strategy for teams to manufacture wins during the season. However, have the MLB’s top regular season teams’ adopted the new emphasis on defense? In the Fangraphs plot to the right (Figure 1), there is a huge spike in the amount of defensive shifts in the MLB since the 2013 season. This change has been driven by the growing analytic departments used by MLB teams. Rather than looking at the simple Defensive Runs Saved (DRS) metric, I use the FanGraphs defensive metric known as DEF(Def = Fielding Runs Above Average + positional adjustment), which measures a team’s total defensive run value adjusted for positions. At a score of 0, the team is considered to be average defensively. Adjusting for position allows for better analysis because defensive plays made by a Shortstop are often harder than a play made by a Left Fielder, and therefore, DEF factors the varying difficulty into their statistic. The graph to the left (Figure 2) shows the total team DEF for each season’s (2003-2017) highest winning team. After looking at the graph, I decided to split the seasons into various intervals to analyze the graph’s trends. The table below shows the DEF Rank, DEF, and Accomplishments of the three highest winning teams per season interval.... Continue Reading

Finding The Most “Baseball Sounding” Name… Analytically

Eric Herrmann ◆ February 5, 2018

“Oh, I'll tell you their names, but you know it seems to me they give these ball players now-a-days very peculiar names.” - Bud Abbott


There are so many things to talk about for each player, but I have just one thing in mind. Their names.

Baseball players have always had peculiar names as Abbott puts it in “Who’s on First,” and I set out to find the most classically “baseball” name of 2017, armed with statistics on my side.

There are a lot of names in baseball. In fact there are over one-thousand, seven hundred “active” players (players who were on rosters and mmade their debut prior to the postseason), and each of those players own a first and last name. There was a lot of data to go through... Continue Reading

Defensive Shifts

Arin Tykodi ◆ November 6, 2017

Any fan of baseball can see that the game is changing in a drastic way. Home-runs are being hit like never before, rookie sensations seem to spring onto the scene every few months, and the amount of defensive shifts employed in the game is greater than ever before. What started this trend of adjusted defensive strategies? Moving infielders and outfielders to optimally position them to record an out is an ingenious idea that seems new to many people around the sport. However, it didn’t start as recently as many think. There have been reports of defensiveshifts dating back all the way to 1877, some notably applied to the greats such as Ted Williams and Cy Williams. The hot point of debated comes from the recent spike in shift usage, from 2,357 shifts used in 2011, to 26,700 shifts used in 2017. So, are these defensive mechanisms that have been so popular in the modern game worth all of the extra scouting and analysis? How much do they really affect the hitters yearly performances, and ultimately, how much do shifts affect a team’s chances to win?

Let’s lay out the basic information: a shift occurs when one side of the field is defensively favored by a team. In the modern game, this takes place most often by placing 3 infielders on one side of the infield, as seen on the left. This is known as a “traditional shift,” and has been plaguing pull-hitters for years. Let’s take a look at one of the most shifted against players... Continue Reading

Exit Velocity and a Player’s Offensive Value

Jake Singleton ◆ November 2, 2017

The rise of technology in sports, particularly baseball, is having dramatic effects on how professional organizations approach the game. One of the newest and most upcoming statistics that point to how to hit more home runs and extra-base hits is exit velocity. Exit velocity is the speed with which the ball leaves the bat. Baseball’s most prolific home run and extra-base hitters typically average an exit velocity of 90+ mph, while the MLB average in this category comes in at around 87 mph. Players like Nationals’ second baseman Daniel Murphy are constantly tweaking their swings to find the motion that gives them the best chance of driving the ball with an ideal exit velocity. “You want to hit the ball optimally about 25 degrees at 98 mph,” Murphy said, “those are home runs.” Over the past three seasons... Continue Reading

Spending in MLB to Measure Efficiency

Arjun Srinivasan ◆ March 3, 2017

As Major League Baseball is the only major American professional sports league without a salary cap, money can play a larger factor in the success, or failure, of a given baseball team. This has allowed monetary value to have more influence in the sport, when compared to other American leagues, as it merely taxes its highest spending teams, rather than capping their salaries. Consequently, certain teams are able to spend much more on their players’ salaries than others.
Due to these large differences in the amount of money spent by each team, it is critical that each team spends its money efficiently, more so than in a league with a hard salary cap. I thought that it would be interesting to look at how much each team spent in 2015, to win a single game... Continue Reading