The Interactive Hall of Fame Timeline

A couple months ago, I posted a timeline of the greatest players in history (by Wins Above MVP). I spent a lot of time on the graphic and really liked how it came out.

I recently started making interactive graphics with HTML, CSS, and Javascript instead of static images. Ever since then, I've been thinking of how I could take that WAM timeline to the next level—a way to visualize all Hall of Famers over time with useful filters, rather than just one static image.

By the power of Sass, I bring you The Interactive Hall of Fame Timeline:

Hall_of_fame_timeline_1295235548221_medium

Click for the full-size, fully-interactive version. Read on for some random bullets:

  • Instead of WAM, this timeline uses wWAR (which is WAR with extra credit for excellent seasons).
  • Per the discussion following my last interactive graphic (on Hall of Fame population by position), I moved Stan Musial from first base to left field. I didn't see any other players I should have made a similar adjustment for.
  • How did I handle two-way players? I generally recognize three Hall of Famers as true two-way players—Monte Ward, Babe Ruth, and Bobby Wallace. The distinction I use is that at different times in each player's career, he was either a full-time pitcher or a full-time position player (all three began as pitchers and then moved to the field). Monte Ward is the only one who appears twice in the timeline (once at shortstop and once as a pitcher) because he had very significant careers in both roles. I mean, the dude won 47 games in a single season and had a 2.10 ERA in almost 2500 innings. Oh, he also happened to be a +75 Total Zone shortstop who picked up over 2000 hits, too.
  • Yes, some Hall of Fame starting pitchers have fairly significant offensive WAR. I'm still unclear on whether or not I should combine this with their pitching WAR on a timeline like this? Is it really fair to also take 5-10 WAR away from their pitchers because of their hitting?
  • Craziest gap I've noticed—Kirby Puckett is the only center fielder elected since Willie Mays retired. Yikes.
  • Third base is just a mess. There are only ten players and there are better available candidates than several that actually are inducted.
  • The "lightness" of the catcher view really hammers home the difficulty catchers have accumulating WAR. Sure, they get a positional adjustment for the time spent on the field. But that's the thing—they get more days off in the season and have shorter careers overall.
  • Voters seem to have the best success at selecting second basemen. There's a nice consistent timeline for second and just two players with less than 60 wWAR. Both of them (Red Schoendinst and Bill Mazeroski) were Veterans Committee picks.
  • I have this feeling that I can't quantify yet that there aren't enough pitchers in the Hall. The standards seem to be way too high. Bert Blyleven was the first starting pitcher inducted since Nolan Ryan—and Blyleven was actually on the ballot before Ryan was. So, since Ryan we've put in four relievers and a starter who took 14 years.
  • Kevin Brown was hosed.
  • Tommy John probably was, too.
  • I love that 150+ wWAR view. It's simply a timeline of the absolute greatest ever.
  • Then there's the sub-60 wWAR guys. Only nine inductees who started their careers after 1950 have less than 60 wWAR. Four of them are relievers. The others are Mazeroski, Luis Aparicio, Lou Brock, Catfish Hunter, and Jim Rice.
  • How many sub-60 wWAR guys started their careers before 1950? That would be 33. Folks, we are more strict than ever in Hall of Fame elections. If someone like Alan Trammell played in the 1930s, he would have walked in. Jack Morris (Game 7!) and Kirk Gibson (he was limping, dammit!)? Absolutely.

Tell me, dear readers—what do you see that's cool?

All WAR data taken from Baseball-Reference.

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