Infographic: The Evolution of Offense in Baseball


Bart Giamatti* once said, “[Baseball] breaks your heart. It is designed to break your heart. The game begins in the spring, when everything else begins again, and it blossoms in the summer, filling the afternoons and evenings, and then as soon as the chill rains come, it stops and leaves you to face the fall all alone. You count on it, rely on it to buffer the passage of time, to keep the memory of sunshine and high skies alive, and then just when the days are all twilight, when you need it most, it stops.” It was at that point, when the chill rains came in early November, that I first started playing around with today’s infographic. Little did I know that it would take me more than three months to complete. The sheer fact that I kept working on it that long speaks volumes for the charm of Giamatti’s game. But now, with baseball beginning again just like everything else, I’ve finally completed it. What I’ve done is put together an infographic featuring the way offense in baseball has evolved since the dawn of the 20th century. The way teams score runs, and take their at-bats, has changed dramatically over the course of 114 years, and I’ve tried to find a way to visualize it. Enjoy!

*Since most people who come to this site are likely movie geeks, yes indeed- former Major League Baseball commissioner A. Bartlett Giamatti is the father of Hollywood chameleon Paul Giamatti.

This is definitely one that you’ll want to click on to enlarge.



Filed under Baseball

7 responses to “Infographic: The Evolution of Offense in Baseball

  1. It’s crazy. Despite being very familiar with Bart Giamatti, I never put it together that he was Paul’s dad. The stolen base statistics make me sad. The ’80s and early ’90s were so great for running, especially in St. Louis. I do think we’re heading for a resurgence in that area since runs scored and home runs are down, but we’ll see. Do you think the Cards can repeat as NL champions and maybe win it this year?

    • It seems like teams are running less (much less), but being smarter about it. You nailed it about the cause and effect, though. Why gamble on stealing 2nd when you’re probably going to score 5 runs with extra base hits? Now that the league’s full of all of these big young arms (especially here in STL), I’m loving the fact that scoring is down the way it is.

      I hate to say it just because I don’t want to jinx anything, but the Cardinals really are in great shape to at least get back to the playoffs. And if their flurry of high-octane arms are healthy, it gives them a big edge come October. This season, every five days, opponents are going to see Wainwright, Wacha, and Miller and that’s just… beautiful. Plus Rosenthal at the back end, Motte if he’s fully recovered, Baby Pedro in there somewhere, even Lynn and Kelly can dial it up (even if Kelly doesn’t miss bats)… It’s obscene how many big arms they have right now. They have more guys pumping 95+ gas than they probably had during the entire LaRussa era. (and that’s no knock on TLR; just a refreshing change)

  2. I really like what they’ve done with the pitching. I do think it’s no coincidence that they’ve grown more reliant on young pitching since TLR left. He was focused on veterans, and the exception of their 2006 World Series win was because he was stuck with injuries. They’ve done some amazing things with their farm system, and it seems like every guy throws 100. We can’t forget Joe Kelly, who slides in after the top three perfectly.

    My concern is still the offense like it was last year. The infield seems a bit stronger with Ellis and Peralta joining Carpenter and Adams. Still, I would love to have a bit more depth, and not having Beltran will hurt. I think they’ll be in good shape due to all the pitching and probably win the division, though.

  3. Interesting how the stolen base success rate drops dramatically after 1950. Is this possibly due to pitchers getting much better at holding runners at first after Jackie Robinson joins the Dodgers in the late 40’s. Is it possible the teams began to learn from watching how Jackie could wreak havoc on the base paths and just started focusing on that part of the game, that much more? Of course that would lead to better defending, at least I think that it would.

    • I think it’s a mistake I made with the data. Someone told me that Baseball-Reference (my source for the data) doesn’t have available caught stealing data from the NL from 1926 to 1950. I still need to check into that.

  4. Pingback: Infographic: The Evolution of Offense in Baseball | Mindocr's Weblog

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