I don't know why, but I have a strange fascination with these sector graphs. Maybe it's because they're graphs, who knows. In anycase, they inspired me to take a moment and put together this bad boy:
It's pretty straightforward:
- The average age of the team is plotted along the X axis
- The number of games above/below 500 is plotted along the Y axis
- The size of the circle corresponds to the team's total payroll
- The color of the circle designates the league or division in which the team plays
After an admittedly brief look at the results, here are my - you guessed it - five takeaways:
1. Rich doesn't mean good. A lazy eyeballing of the graph doesn't reveal any obvious pattern of bigger circles above the 0.500 line or smaller ones below it. While the free-spending Red Sox, Angels, and Cubs are all safely above water, similarly sized behemoths representing Detroit, Seattle, and of course the Yankees are significantly submerged.
2. Young does mean cheap. Each of the 11 smallest circles are bunched safely to the left of the centerline (Florida, Tampa Bay, Oakland, Pittsburgh, Washington, Kansas City, Minnesota, Arizona, Baltimore, Texas, and Colorado). Similarly, the 5 biggest circles are all to the right (NY Yankees, Detroit, NY Mets, Boston, and Chicago Sox). The biggest exception to this rule is the Angels, who have the 6th biggest payroll yet the 11th youngest team.
3. By some bastard child of the transitive property, there is little correlation between age and ability to win. Both the 5 winningest teams (Arizona, Cubs, Boston, St Louis, the Angels, and Tampa Bay) and the 5 losingest (San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle, Colorado, and Detroit...boy, the NL West sucks) are scattered broadly across the age axis.
4. The Marlins and Rays know something we don't. See that teeny tiny dot waaay off to the left? That's Florida. Despite the oft-noted observation that their entire payroll is smaller than A-Rod's (and less than half the payroll of the 2nd cheapest team), and the fact that they're far and away the youngest team, they still boast the 3rd best record in the NL even after a recent 2-5 slide. And Tampa Bay, with both the 2nd cheapest and 2nd youngest team, are winning at an even greater clip.
5. The Dodgers are slightly above average in all three dimensions. This is indicated by their position just offset to the upper right of center. Of the 30 MLB teams, they are the 13th oldest, 11th winningest, and 8th richest.
While none of these observations is revolutionary, a properly- conceived graph can tell the story like nothing else can. And yes, it's still early - it'll be interesting (at least to me) to see how this graph looks at the end of the season.
Thanks for reading. Please share any thoughts or questions.