Data Viz Done Right

September 16, 2009

Why was Dave Stewart picked on?

I was building out the pitching stats of baseball database I downloaded from Baseball Databank and happened to look at a trend of balks. I noticed this HUGE spike in the number of balks in 1988. I figured there had to be something wrong with the data, so I turned to Google. I found this terrific blog post that explains exactly what happened in 1988.


So what happened? In 1988, the Oakland Athletics led the majors with 76 balks or just over 8% of the total. 1988 accounted for 37% of the A's balks from 1985-2008...that's ridiculous!

Dave Stewart set a record with 16 balks. Order was restored in 1989 and Dave Stewart had zero balks. I do remember Dave Stewart going to the plate quickly, so maybe it was the change in the rule that says "the pitcher must come to a single complete and discernible stop" that got him.


  1. hey i am also trying to use baseball databank to do some things with pitching statistics. all the files seem to be encrypted or something though after i unzip them and they are available in like a notepad format. how can i view the information from that site?

    if you wouldn't mind, could you contact me at

  2. Joe, I will email you the link, but here it is as well.

    Also, here is another great site that summarizes everywhere you can find baseball data on the web: