Baseball is a notoriously data-heavy sport. Throughout the 162 games of a Major League Baseball season, teams generate countless data points that can be compared and contrasted against both the league as a whole and other teams.
At Teehan+Lax Labs, an independent innovation unit within the Teehan+Lax digital agency in Toronto, designers considered how they could create a season-long snapshot that “captures all the drama, struggles, and highlights” of an MLB season. Their answer, Season in Review, is a unique digital product that is part iPad application, part physical interface, and part data visualization.
The design team reasoned that the best way to neatly visualize a five-plus month season was to start from the macro level. By measuring how many games back from first place a team was over time, the designers could analyze not only a team’s changing place in their division, but also trends like slumps, winning streaks, and close divisional battles.
Instead of using a static digital graph to visualize this information, Season in Review uses a graph-like 3D structure that can be placed directly on top of the iPad. The clear acrylic graphs are organized into leagues and divisions and light up when a specific team is selected on the iPad’s touch screen. This allows users to focus on one team’s information while simultaneously getting a view of the entire league.
With Season in Review, the team at Teehan+Lax is trending into unknown digital territory. Fusing a traditional baseball statistics app with a physical data communication device is so innovative that they have entered a product category without a true name. “Digital Data Structure” and “Interactive Statistics Viewer” both come close to describing Season in Review, but neither truly captures what makes it so special.
Jon Salm is an associate client analyst at Millward Brown Digital in New York City and a freelance data journalist in the Visual.ly marketplace. He has a bachelor’s degree in English from Washington and Lee University. You can find him online at about.me/salm.jon and follow him on twitter @S4LM3R.