Data Viz Done Right

August 19, 2009

A-Rod's Projections

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Scott Raab wrote a fantastic article in Esquire in February when the allegations came out about A-Rod taking steroids in 2003 (and who knows how long before or after). In the article, Scott references a chart published by Esquire in October 2008 that projects A-Rod's stats and when he's projected to pass significant milestones.



There are some fundamental flaws with this chart:
(1) The vertical axis starts around 400 instead of zero; this distorts the chart (In fact, when you start the axis at 0, runs scored and RBI are nearly identical. This chart makes it look like there is a variance worth noting.)
(2) The colored background is unnecessary and distracting; keep it transparent so that the data stands out on its own
(3) The markers at each point are not needed; they take away from the natural trend of the data
(4) The total should be labeled 2018, not total

There are also a few details that make the chart work:
(1) Identifying the major milestones
(2) Labeling the projected totals
(3) The color choice is good; the colors are discernible and no one color sticks out more than another (though the red could be slightly softer)

Given the notes above, here is how I would present the data:



Good news for A-Rod, his projected stats are even better than when Scott Boras presented the data for the first graph to the Texas Rangers back in 2001. Bad news for Boras, the $252M contract you negotiated could have been higher if you presented your data more accurately (along with the 5% commission you lost).

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