2003 NL Central

Below is a division that was less tightly contested.  (In fact, the five American League East teams have finished in this exact order every season since 1998.)  For reference, the little yellow dot in the upper right corner indicates where the Detroit Tigers finished, with 119 losses; had they been in the Yankees' division, they would have been 58 games behind.

2003 AL East

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The Diamond Brick Road
Updated September 29, 2003

 

The above diagrams chart the progress of two divisions of major league baseball for the 2003 season.

I invented the Diamond Brick Road in the late 1980s, but this is the first time I've displayed it on the Internet.  How does the diagram work?  Let's zoom in.

Here's a closeup of the brick road for a short 12-game "season."  Every team starts the season at the bottom brick.

With each game, a team moves in one of two directions:

For a win, the team moves one brick "northwest," towards third base.  For a loss, the team moves one brick "northeast," towards first base.

For example, the Yellows start with an 0-0 record.  They win three straight to go to 3-0, then lose the next three to fall to 3-3.  Then they alternate wins and losses to finish the 12-game season with a record of 6-6.

Notice that every brick that corresponds to a .500 record (such as 3-3 or 6-6) lies directly above 0-0.  This .500 "flagpole line" points straight toward center field.

-

The Scarlets also start from 0-0, of course.  Since both teams own the 0-0 brick, we color it white.  The Scarlets have a losing record for a while and fall to 1-4, but then they reel off seven straight wins.  During this winning streak, the line of red bricks heads straight for left field.  The Scarlets finish their 12 games at 8-4, two games better than the Yellows' 6-6.

We can look at all this using another pair of orthogonal axes: 

"Games played" are measured vertically.  Both the 8-4 and 6-6 bricks, representing 12 games played, are 12 levels above the 0-0 brick.

"Games back" are measured horizontally.  The 6-6 brick is two full bricks to the right of the 8-4.  If the Yellows had finished 6-5, they would have been 1½ bricks (or games) behind the 8-4 Scarlets.

And we can even use a third set of axes:  radial coordinates.

The vector from the origin (0-0) to a team's last brick (8-4) forms an angle (60°) with the first-base line that is proportional to the team's winning percentage.

Angle

30º

45º

60º

90º

Winning Pct.

.000

.333

.500

.667

1.000

 

The math is fun for me.  What's fun for all us of is watching the colored lines snake their way up the brick road, through hot streaks and cold streaks, crossing and recrossing each other, as the teams climb toward the finish line represented by the 162nd level of bricks.

(Charting the Pirates year by year:  2011  2012  2013.  For a hockey version of this chart, click here.)

TBT

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