Sports

Using Data Visualization to Better Understand a Truly Epic World Series Game 3

LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 26:  Max Muncy #13 of the Los Angeles Dodgers celebrates his eighteenth inning walk-off home run to defeat the the Boston Red Sox 3-2 in Game Three of the 2018 World Series at Dodger Stadium on October 26, 2018 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Max Muncy’s homer came after more than 7 hours of action.
Harry How/Getty Images

Those who stayed awake long enough to watch Game 3 of the World Series on Friday witnessed history, though the end didn’t come until early Saturday morning. The Los Angeles Dodgers’ 3-2 victory over the Boston Red Sox represents the longest postseason game in MLB history. The two teams wheezed through a staggering 18 innings of baseball before Max Muncy finally pulled the plug with a solo home run. By the time he crossed the plate, it had been 7 hours and 20 minutes since the first pitch was thrown.

This marathon of a game ended at 3:30 a.m ET and featured 46 different players, 18 of whom were pitchers. The record-setting affair provided plenty of hard-to-fathom statistics, but, thanks to the magic of data visualization, we can come close to fully understanding the scope of this World Series epic.

For example, take this picture of Dodgers legend Tommy Lasorda wearing ski goggles, which was taken during celebrations after the National League West tiebreaker earlier this month.

LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 01:  Manny Machado #8 of the Los Angeles Dodgers celebrates a 5-2 win over the Colorado Rockies with Tommy Lasorda after the National League West tiebreaker game at Dodger Stadium on October 1, 2018 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Harry How/Getty Images

Let’s say that photo of Tommy Lasorda wearing ski goggles represents one inning of baseball. By extrapolating the data, we can create an accurate depiction of the amount of innings played by the Dodgers and Red Sox in Game 3, as seen below.

Tommy Lasorda in innings.
Photo: Harry How/Getty Images. Data visualization: Nick Greene

That’s pretty impressive, but it’s just the tip of the iceberg. Let’s say one photo of Tommy Lasorda wearing ski goggles translates to one single minute. With this new data in hand, the following collage of Lasordas provides a helpful and accurate representation of Game 3’s real-time duration.

Tommy Lasorda in minutes.
Photo: Harry How/Getty Images. Data visualization: Nick Greene

It’s starting to make sense now, isn’t it? To continue this statistical adventure, let’s compare Game 3’s length to the length of an average MLB contest (3 hours and 4 minutes). We can take a photo—say, one of Tommy Lasorda wearing ski goggles—and use it to represent Friday’s record-setting World Series affair. On the right is a scaled-down version of Tommy Lasorda wearing ski goggles that explains the comparatively truncated duration of an average baseball game.

Tommy Lasorda vs. Tommy Lasorda as an average MLB game.
Photo: Harry How/Getty Images. Data visualization: Nick Greene

Time is a valuable data point, but Game 3 offered so much more statistical meat to chew on. For example, there were 561 total pitches thrown. That’s a difficult number to wrap your head around, so imagine that the below photo of Tommy Lasorda wearing ski goggles is 500 pitches. The photograph of Mr. Met standing next to a Citi Bike, meanwhile, represents 61 pitches. Put them together, and you get Game 3’s total pitch count.

Combined, Tommy Lasorda and Mr. Met are 561 pitches.
Photo: Harry How/Getty Images. Data visualization: Nick Greene.

The players’ arms will surely be tired, but the Dodgers and Red Sox won’t get a break before Game 4. The teams will convene once again at Dodger Stadium on Saturday to continue the series, which looks something like this.

The Boston Red Sox lead the World Series against the Dodgers, 2 games to 1.
Photo: Harry How/Getty Images. Data visualization: Nick Greene.

Clearly, this is a close one.