Sports Reference Blog

Archive for the 'Features' Category

Advanced Stats on Player Pages: How We Made It

26th February 2021

On Tuesday night, we added a new table of Advanced Stats to player pages.

This is what it looks like for hitters:

Mike Trout Advanced Stats

And for pitchers:

Gerrit Cole Advanced Stats

Rather than simply explain what we added, I’m going to describe how we added it. How does something go from an idea to a feature on Baseball-Reference? The entire process starts with you, the user.

At the beginning of January, we began conducting interviews with several users to discuss their experience using Baseball Reference and Stathead. By the time we launched the feature, we had spoken with nearly 50 users. It’s important to note that when we started the interview process, we didn’t have a particular solution or even a particular problem in mind.

There were several goals for these interviews. We wanted to find:

  1. What is the general perception of Baseball Reference compared with other sites?
  2. What features would users like us to add to Baseball Reference?
  3. What features would users like us to add to Stathead?
  4. What features of Baseball Reference and Stathead are users having a hard time using, finding, or just remembering to find?
  5. In what ways are people using our sites that we hadn’t anticipated?

Many of the interviews confirmed what we already knew. But every interview had at least one piece of gold that we could learn from. One interview in particular stood out to me and sent me on a path towards designing the feature you see on the site today.

I spoke with Mark Gorosh (@sportz5176 on Twitter) on February 3. Mark was lamenting that we don’t have advanced metrics such as BB% and K% on Baseball-Reference player pages. He didn’t understand why we had so many columns about the inner workings of WAR (in the Player Value table), but not established advanced stats like walk rate.

The issue, of course, is that we do have those stats. At this point I showed Mark the Advanced Batting page and… I’m not going to say Mark yelled at me, but he gave us some tough love that we really needed to hear. He couldn’t understand why all these great stats were not on a player’s main page.

And he was right.

There were a few different paths we could take.

  1. We could take all of the tables on the Advanced Batting pages and put them on the main player page. This wasn’t practical, however. There’s also an Advanced Fielding page and, of course, and Advanced Pitching page for pitchers. Adding all of these for a pitcher would lead to dozens of tables. Having so much on one page would negatively affect user experience.
  2. We could pick and choose certain things to bring over to the main page. Perhaps we could do this in a way that also leads users to click to the Advanced pages.
  3. We could move nothing, but focus on doing a better job of directing users to the player sub-pages (such as advanced batting and pitching, splits, and game logs).

We opted for the second option, but will also be looking to address the third option. The solution for the immediate job at hand is getting some advanced stats on the main player pages. But the fact that Mark (and other users) didn’t even know we had these advanced stats is a symptom of another issue—some users either are not noticing these sub-pages or they know about them but don’t think to use them (because they’re a click away).

This is a big deal because Baseball-Reference has a lot of users, but the super-users are the ones that have discovered the game logs, splits, and other advanced features. From there, they move on to Stathead to get even more powerful tools for their research. We want as many users discovering those features as possible so they can also turn into power users. So, in the future I’ll be looking to improve the player (and team and league) sub-navigation.

Now that we chose the path to explore, there were still different ways to proceed. One was to move the Player Value table (where we show WAR and its components) to the Advanced Batting page, but bring the most important columns (such as WAR, WAA, oWAR, dWAR, etc.) along with the most important columns from other Advanced Batting tables.

We began testing with that.

Francisco Lindor Advanced Stats Mockup

This early mockup tested well but some users showed a very strong preference for keeping the Player Value table where it was and adding a separate Advanced Stats table below it. Honestly, that was probably the right solution all along, but I wanted to see we could solve this without increasing the number of tables on player pages. We ended up adding one, but that’s fine.

There were several key things from this mockup that tested well, such as:

  1. The collection of stats we chose (which were the result of team discussions and also a survey we shared on Twitter).
  2. The addition of rOBA (our version of wOBA—Reference weighted OBA) and Rbat+ (our version of wRC+—based on the Rbat used in WAR). Despite the fact that these stats are brand new, I was impressed by how many guessed right away what they were.
  3. The links under the table to let users quickly jump to any table on the Advanced Batting page from the main player page. Not only does this help raise awareness of the Advanced Batting page, but also lets users know what tables are specifically on the page before they even go there.

The next version we tested kept all of these features, but put them in a separate Advanced Batting table. We also added base-running data, more batted ball data (such as the oft-requested Exit Velocity and Hard Hit %), and a row to display league averages for each stat (because users may not know what a good XBT% is).

That version of the mockup looked much like what you see today:

Francisco Lindor Advanced Stats

This version tested exceedingly well. Now it came down to building it. I asked Kenny Jackelen (@kennyjackelen on Twitter), Baseball-Reference’s developer, for a summary of the development process for a new feature like this. Kenny said he:

  1. Iterated multiple times with the team internally to get feedback on the table implementation (including how the table should render for players from different eras).
  2. Created new database tables for exit velocity data (which also powers the Hard Hit %)
  3. Added columns to existing tables to store rOBA and Rbat+ more permanently (previously these calculations were done as an intermediate step to get to WAR, so the database structure needed some updates to make it easier to pull them into the page-building process alongside other stats).
  4. Added logic to our play-by-play processing to assign batted balls a Pull/Center/Oppo location so that we can get a count of each type and compute the percentages for the Advanced Batting table
  5. Read a lot of slack messages in ALL CAPS from Adam D—like a marathon runner being handed a cup of water.
  6. When it was ready, I got Mark back on Zoom to see his reaction. He said “it’s a 10.” He elaborated further, saying “It's not enough to be baseball’s best data aggregator. You have to present the information in a way that fans will be able to find it. I was honored that BRef and Adam took my suggestions to heart. The new player page designs put so many great pieces of data in easy to find places… near the top of the page.”

    As a researcher, it was very fulfilling to come full circle with Mark. He went from tough love to delight.

    As helpful as it was, not all user interviews revolve around tough love. Many users I have spoken with weren’t sure what to expect when they hopped on a call. Far more often than not, it’s just a casual conversation about baseball, the different ways people use the site, and what they’d like to be able to do.

    I asked interview subject Jim Passon (@PassonJim on Twitter) if he had any thoughts on the interview process (so you don’t just have to take my word for it). He said “When Adam reached out to me to have a conversation about features that I’d like to see in the future, I couldn’t get the meeting set up quick enough. As expected, the meeting was awesome! I got to make a few suggestions, learn some new tricks, and catch a glimpse of the cool features that were already being developed for the site (which I absolutely loved). I now feel like I’m a part of my favorite site on the web... and that feels pretty good!”

    Interviewee Jessica Brand (@JessicaDBrand on Twitter) echoed a similar sentiment, saying “I felt at ease, just discussing sports in depth in every which way with friends. It’s a great way to get those endorphins going to see and meet up with friends at your local stadium/arena/pitch you can’t necessarily see because of social distancing. Interviewing with Adam and Kenny provided the same warm and fuzzies.”

    And honestly, in this time of social distancing and quarantine, hopping on the phone to talk about Baseball Reference with some of my favorite writers and analysts has been incredibly fulfilling. If you’d like to chat with me about how you’re using Baseball-Reference and Stathead, feel free to reach out at @baseballtwit on Twitter or go ahead and book a time on my calendar to chat.

Posted in Advanced Stats, Baseball-Reference.com, Data, Features, History, WAR | No Comments »

Team Splits By Referee Now Available on Basketball Reference

16th February 2021

We have added some new tables to Basketball Reference that will let you see how a particular team performs by referee assigned for their games. This information is available on both referee pages as well as team season pages in their More Pages tab.

Using Haywoode Workman as an example, if you scroll down to the Teams table, you can see different stats being tracked include win-loss record, pace, free throw attempts and fouls called. Here's a link to the 2019-20 Philadelphia 76ers Referees page for an example of how this looks for a full team season.

We are able to display this referee data back to the 1996-97 season. So find your favorite team, or scroll through the list of referees, and check out this new feature! If you have any questions or suggestions for future additions to the site, feel free to contact us via our feedback form.

Posted in Announcement, Basketball-Reference.com, Features | No Comments »

FBref Scouting Reports and Similar Players Launched

10th February 2021

FBref is happy to announce the release of a feature we've been excited about for a while, player Scouting Reports that give you a quick look at how players compare in various statistics to other players at their position. This is currently available for players in the Big Five men's European leagues (example: Mohamed Salah), Major League Soccer (example: Diego Rossi) and the Women's Super League (example: Sam Kerr). We show 20 categories on the main Scouting Report at the top of a player's page, selected based on feedback from user research and industry experts, but you can also click through to a Complete Scouting Report which shows many more categories to compare the players by.

In addition, we have added a Similar Players table which locates the players that have the most similar percentiles in the stats used in the Scouting Reports. That table also offers Compare links which takes you to our Player Comparison tool so you can see the players' statistics side-by-side.

For more information on how the Scouting Report works, we have a longer explainer on FBref. This would not be possible without the wide array of advanced stats provided by Statsbomb, so thanks to them.

Depending on how people react, we could even adapt this feature for our other Sports-Reference sites in the future. Because of that, we are eager to hear people's thoughts on this new feature, so feel free to contact us via our feedback form.

Posted in Advanced Stats, Announcement, FBref, Features, Statgeekery | No Comments »

Stathead Football Adds Player Split Finder

12th January 2021

Following the introduction of the Team Split Finder last November, we are now proud to announce the addition of another new tool for Stathead Football subscribers: the Player Split Finder.

This powerful tool allows users to search through our splits database to compare players across various situations, with most stats going back to the 1994 season. Here's a quick look at the different splits available and some examples to help you get started.

QUARTER: Most 4th Quarter TD Passes Thrown This Season

LOCATION: Highest Passer Rating on the Road in a Single Season (min. 100 attempts)

DOWN: Most Times Sacked on Third Down This Season

YARDS TO GO: Most Rushing First Downs on Plays with 10+ Yards To Go This Season

DOWN & YARDS TO GO: Best Completion Percentage on 3rd Down and 10+ Yards to Go in 2017

FIELD POSITION: Most Red Zone Targets This Season

SCORE DIFFERENTIAL: Most Pass Attempts When Trailing in 2019

GAME SITUATION: Most Passes Intercepted While Tied with Less Than 4 Minutes Remaining Since 1994

SNAP TYPE & HUDDLE (since 1998): Most Passes Completed Under Center This Season

PASS RUSH TYPE (since 2018): Best Passer Rating Against the Blitz This Season

We hope you enjoy this addition to Stathead. If you're interested in a subscription to the service, you can sign up for a free trial here. We built this tool thanks to feedback from users like you. Should you have any questions or other feedback, please reach out to us.

Posted in Announcement, Features, Pro-Football-Reference.com, Stathead | 5 Comments »

Provisional 2020 Approximate Value Now on PFR

7th January 2021

With the season concluded, we're pleased to report that we've added 2020 Approximate Value (AV) numbers to the site for all NFL players. Note that these numbers are just provisional right now; the final numbers will be released after the All-Pro teams are announced.

As of now, Josh Allen, Aaron Rodgers and Russell Wilson are tied for the league AV lead at 18, with Derrick Henry and Aaron Donald the two non-QBs to make the top 10. You can see the top players in this Stathead.com Player Season Finder search. Washington rookie Chase Young had an especially strong year, finishing at 13 AV. Only Ndamukong Suh and Jevon Kearse had as high an AV among rookie defensive linemen in the post-merger era.

Not sure what AV is? To learn more about PFR's attempt to put a single number on each player-season since 1960 (for the purposes of comparing players across position and era), check out this link. Feel free to send us feedback via our site's form.

Posted in Announcement, Features, History, Pro-Football-Reference.com | 1 Comment »

FBref Adds Head-To-Head Records

25th November 2020

A frequent suggestion we've received since launching FBref is a way to see head-to-head records between two teams and who's performed the best in those particular matchups. Well, we've heard you and released Records vs. Opponents pages and Historical Head-to-Head pages.

The Records vs. Opponents page quickly gives you a view of the teams they've played most frequently against, as well as their win-loss-draw records and goal differential with each opponent. For teams that play in both domestic and international competitions that we cover, we include results from those different competitions combined.

Once you go into the Historical Head-to-Head page for a particular series, you can see the different competitions we have record of the teams meeting in. For example, looking at El Clásico, you can see the results of Barcelona and Real Madrid facing off in La Liga, Copa del Rey, Supercopa de España and Champions League. The Head-to-Head Matches table has toggles at the top that allows you to filter victories by one team or the other, or draws. Further down, we have statistical leaderboards for the series, as well as overall player and goalkeeper statistics for the matches we have coverage for. These new features are also available for national teams, in case you want to see which teams have given the U.S. Women's National Team the hardest time.

You can see the full list of competitions and years we have coverage for on our site's Competitions index. Links to teams' Records vs. Opponents are available from their history page, and links to Historical Head-to-Head pages will also be available from upcoming fixtures tables. If you go to our daily Matches page, you can see Head-to-Head links for each of the upcoming day's matchups. If you have any suggestions or feedback on this feature or something else you want to see on FBref, you can contact us via our feedback form.

Posted in Announcement, FBref, Features, History | Comments Off on FBref Adds Head-To-Head Records

Stathead Football Adds Team Split Finder

24th November 2020

We've been listening to requests for new features from our users and we're happy to announce that we have launched a new tool for Stathead Football subscribers: The Team Split Finder

The Team Split Finder allows users to unleash the power of our splits database to run searches to compare how teams have fared in various situations. The splits are built off of our play-by-play data, which dates back to 1994.

Read the rest of this entry

Posted in Announcement, Features, Pro-Football-Reference.com, Stathead | Comments Off on Stathead Football Adds Team Split Finder

Kobe & LeBron’s High School Stats Now on BBR

10th November 2020

On Basketball-Reference, we have a special page for Michael Jordan where we house his statistics from his high school and college career. Two other superstars that have been in the spotlight since high school are Kobe Bryant and LeBron James, and we have added special pages for them that display their statistics during high school.

Kobe Bryant's high school page allows you to follow his improvement over his years at Lower Merion, along with notes marking milestones such as his first 40-point game or his McDonalds All-American honoring. The page also includes Bryant's preseason games for the first half of his NBA career. We give special thanks to Todd Spehr for compiling and donating these records and notes.

LeBron James' high school page tracks his statistics at Saint Vincent-Saint Mary in Akron before entering the NBA, with full coverage of makes, attempts and rebounds.

If you have any suggestions or feedback, you can contact us via our feedback form.

Posted in Announcement, Basketball-Reference.com, Data, Features, History, Trivia | Comments Off on Kobe & LeBron’s High School Stats Now on BBR

Annual Stathead Subscriptions Now Available!

29th October 2020

By popular demand, we're thrilled to announce that annual Stathead subscriptions are now available at Stathead.com. Stathead is the premier set of sports research tools available to the public and is available for Baseball, Basketball, Football & Hockey. Monthly subscriptions, which are $8/month for a single sport and $16/month for all sports also remain available. The new annual subscriptions are priced to give users who choose them two months for free: $80/year for a single sport or $160/year for all sports. If you're a current subscriber and wish to change from monthly to annual, you may do so here. To learn more about Stathead, please visit here.

Posted in Announcement, Baseball-Reference.com, Basketball-Reference.com, Features, Hockey-Reference.com, Pro-Football-Reference.com, Stathead | 2 Comments »

New International Leagues on BBR For 2020-21

27th October 2020

In addition to covering the NBA and WNBA in the United States, Basketball Reference covers an array of professional basketball leagues in Europe, Asia and Australia. For the 2020-21 season, we have added four new leagues: the ABA Adriatic League, the VTB United League of Russia, the Turkish Super League and the Israeli Super League. These leagues include teams that participate in the continental EuroLeague and EuroCup competitions, which we cover as well.

Notable former NBA players who are playing in these newly added leagues include Sam Dekker and Tyler Ennis with Türk Telekom in Turkey, Eric Mika with Partizan NIS in the Adriatic League, Greg Monroe and Jonas Jerebko with BC Khimki in VTB United, and Dragan Bender with Maccabi Tel Aviv in Israel.

For these newly added leagues we only have current season data right now, but if you'd like to see previous seasons for those leagues or express interest in other leagues, feel free to contact us via our feedback form.

Posted in Announcement, Basketball-Reference.com, Data, Features | Comments Off on New International Leagues on BBR For 2020-21