Maps and dots 2
Water and wine

Football rankings 1

The Times' sports pages made wise use of graphics in a series of NFL articles recently.  Here is a rank plot (below left) comparing Jaguars quarterback David Garrard to seven other quarterbacks who started the weekend of January 5.


Simple and effective, this chart does not fuss around in showing us where Garrard ranks relative to the others. 

Redo_garrardThe junkart revision (below right) plays with a different scale: the spacing between the tick marks represent proportional differences in the underlying metric.  This gives us a little more: for example, Garrard's second rank in completion percentage is less remarkable than first thought as he essentially tied with the 3rd and 4th best while the top six were bunched between 60 and 65 percent.

But Garrard's touchdown to interception ratio stands out as the next best quarterback attained only about half his ratio.  (Todd Collins who had not thrown an interception until that time was omitted; he also had only started four games.)

References: "Two Dreams (One Big, One Tiny) Come True", New York Times, Jan 4 2008; ESPN statistics.


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Jon Peltier

Nice job. Do you have the raw data or the file(s) you used to build your version?

Nick Barrowman

the spacing between the tick marks represent proportional differences in the underlying metric

Do you mean that you used logarithmic scales?


Very nice, gives much more information than original without adding much ink. Defining scales is great improvement since from the original it's impossible to figure that out.


I felt like the scale was backwards though. At a glance if you miss the "best" and "worst" labels, I assumed moving the right on each scale was better.

Why would one direction be preferred over the other? Do I just have a left to right (english reading) bias or since each of the chosen metrics a larger number is better would following a traditional number line direction make more sense?


Nick: I didn't use logarithmic scales. The original used rank-scales, which removes any information about the magnitude of the difference. For each of my graphs, the length of the axis is fixed and scaled to fit the range of the data. So in effect, each graph has its own scale.

9.2.5: I retained the left-right orientation of the original chart. It is indeed somewhat unnatural. But recall that the original works in rank scale so rank 1 is best and rank 8 is worst.

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