Tableau Public Revizited | May 27, 2020

It’s been far too long since our last Tableau Public Revizited, but time to get back to reviewing some great work of the past from the community we love so dearly. This week we’re looking at a nice viz by Kate Brown that I originally had lined up for Major League Baseball’s opening week. But, while we don’t yet know when we’ll be seeing baseball games again, we do know that this viz, ‘Enter Sandman,’ published by Kate back on March 30, 2019, captures the career of arguably the best closer the game has ever seen; Mariano Rivera. Let’s get to a few things that make this visualization so special.

Three Things I Love!

Clean Design + Just Enough Context

Kate starts out by doing non-baseball fans a big favor and providing some context. In her title header and again in the top left section of the viz, where readers eyes are drawn to first, she explains a little about Rivera’s career. As we touched on above, he’s one of the best closers the game has ever seen. However, when looking at the charts throughout the visualization, it’s important to know up front that Rivera began his career as a starting pitcher and then transitioned into the closing role after a few seasons.

This explains the high strikeout mark in 1996. In his set-up role, Rivera struck out a career high 130 hitters, but he also threw a career high 107 2/3 innings, nearly 30 more innings than his next highest season. So we would expect his strikeout totals to drop once he transitioned to the bullpen and began throwing closer to 60-80 innings per season. And without the note about his 2002 and 2012 injuries, readers would be wondering why so many of his stats took a dip both of those years. Looking at his stats on baseball-reference.com I can see that in 2002 Rivera pitched just 46 innings and only 8 1/3 in 2012. He threw at least 60 innings every other year he was the Yankees closer. So the context is very important and Kate does a great job of incorporating it into the viz while maintaining a clean design. Well done, Kate!

Use of Color

I really love how Kate uses just two colors (three if you count the white title) in the viz and ties them to team colors, the Yankees navy blue and gray. Also, the way she splits up the title and viz is nice, using the navy as the title background, but the gray as the background throughout the rest of the visualization. There’s no need for any additional colors.

Consistency

And speaking of a clean design, Kate’s use of bar charts throughout was a sound decision. She could have changed it up with different chart types, but why make it difficult for the reader to understand? Bar charts are easy to understand and the use of the same chart type for all five categories allows for easy comparisons across categories. For instance, Rivera enjoys his first 50 save season in 2001. If we look at the other categories, we can see how his strikeouts by season ramp up from 36 in 1998 to 83 in 2001. He also cut his walks in half, with just 12 walks in 2001 vs. 25 the prior season. More strikeouts and fewer walks is a great recipe for success.

What’s another great recipe for success? Do the things Kate did in this visualization. Clean, clear context, color, consistency. Oh and I also just love the image she chose. Great job Kate, this was a fun visualization to explore!!