The MLB Racial Gap

February is going to be a busy month for the blog. Tableau is teaming up with other organizations and communities to help #VisualizeDiversity in honor of #BlackHistoryMonth.

So this first week we’re looking at a visual from┬áthe SABR community. SABR is the Society for American Baseball Research. This community has coined, “sabermetrics”, a new term in baseball statistics. The article in question looks at the racial gap in baseball. Here is the visual and accompanying article

What works well

  • The title is fine
  • The x-axis is labeled appropriately

What could be improved

  • Due to the number of years displayed, the stack bar chart with the grid lines makes this very difficult to read
  • Because “Whites” make up a significant majority each year, it’s difficult to draw comparisons between the other races.

Oh, baseball. How I love thee! I’ve more than a few baseball-centric vizzes on my blog and even more on my profile that I didn’t blog about. I encourage you to check them out after you read this.

I can see from the original visual that the race gap has closed since Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in 1947. For my makeover, I want to simply show how the gap has closed. To do this, I grouped all the minorities together which results in just two dimensions. I’ll put them on color so that I can ensure that minority group really pops off the page.

Screen Shot 2018-02-06 at 11.33.56 AM.png

This looks good. Now, as I sit here and look at this I see four sections:

  • a sharp closing angle in the years following the broken barrier
  • a leveling off but still closing
  • Another closing angle, but not as dramatic as the first
  • Finally, more recently, it appears that gap is opening

So I thought about doing a story-style layout to highlight each era. But I don’t think it’s entirely necessary as I can achieve the same idea with the same visual above and using some reference bands and annotations. See the full, finished viz below and click to interact and check out the #VizInTooltips!

Mind the Gap

Until next time!

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