Topps Pennant: Exploring The Game Of Baseball

For all the baseball fans out there, this is a wonderful time of year. The Major League Baseball regular season just began and the smell of the ballpark is in the air. And, if you’re like me, you’ll now be dedicating more time and energy each day than you should following your favorite team.

Statistics are a huge part of this historic game, and have been kept for better than a century. Numbers to numbers, players and teams can be compared from one generation to the next. It’s one of the only professional sports that is capable of such comparisons. Because of that, baseball carries with it a lot of stat junkie fans. These are the folks that analyze the OBP of a batter in relation to facing right or left handed pitching combined with the game time temperature. Topps Pennant is an app that packages all of those stats in a beautifully designed, fun to use iPhone app. Let’s take a closer look at it.

The Backstory

With stats being such a huge part of the game for so long we have an incredibly detailed record going back a very long time. The rules of the game have essentially not changed, so looking back statistically can be quite interesting. We can compare pitching and hitting statistics of players from the early 1900s with their current counterparts. It brings up some very interesting conversations and is a very cool aspect of professional baseball.

Topps Pennant is an application that enables you to explore professional baseball at a statistical, and even play-by-play, level. It provides an interface into that gigantic statistical database and provides a really great method for diving into that world.

Teams

The application begins with selecting a team to explore. You’ll find all teams that have existed in the MLB. What I mean by this is that you’ll find teams that existed at one time, but are no longer in the league. For example, you’ll see three Braves teams as they’ve been in three different cities since their inception.

Showing the multiple views for browsing the teams

Showing the multiple views for browsing the teams

The list of teams can be viewed in card form or in list form. Each one is alphabetical. The view is toggled from a couple buttons at the bottom of the view.

Team View

Here’s where you’ll begin to dig into the guts of this application. Cards represent each season and it is possible to flip through the cards left and right. Each card shows the year along with the team’s record and winning percentage.

Showing the multiple views while looking at a team

Showing the multiple views while looking at a team

An alternative view is also available to show you a more broad statistical overview past just wins and losses. This can be further toggled from pitching to hitting stats.

Below the cards you’ll see a bar graph. Each vertical bar denotes one year and the height is representative of the number of the year’s winning percentage with a red colored bar denoting a playoff series win. This chart is swipe-able, and you’re able to scroll left and right to quickly jump to a season.

Season View

This view initially looks similar to the team view. Cards denote each game with the score of each game shown. Below is another bar chart, this time each bar represents one game. A win is a full bar and a loss is a half bar. This chart is also swipe-able and you’re able to scroll through forward and backward. Swiping on the cards will also move you in the season one game forward or backward.

Showing the multiple views within a particular season

Showing the multiple views within a particular season

An alternative card view is also available at this level. Instead of viewing the score of that particular game you’re able to see the divisional standings on that particular day. It’s quite cool to scroll through the game chart on the bottom with this view toggled on. You’ll see the team your looking at in bold and can watch the list change as you swipe through the games.

Game View

As has become quite evident, Topps Pennant allows for continual digging down all the way down to individual game level. The app is very visual overall, and here we see a really cool representation of a game in interactive, info-graphic form.

Checking out a specific game. Also showing one play of the game.

Checking out a specific game. Also showing one play of the game.

The default view here is a circular bar chart that is segmented by the inning with the final score in the middle. The smallest bars denote outs while the larges home runs. Each other level represents everything else in between. It’s easy to spot the exciting innings.

Sliding your finger around the chart on each bar will display that play above the chart (i.e.“Kirby Puckett tripled. Chuck Knoblauch scored”). Tapping the play button in the center will automatically take you through the game play by play. Not exactly like watching a replay of the game, but a pretty cool feature nonetheless.

It’s possible to toggle between this play by play view and the individual stats for the teams as well. From there you’ll see the lineup for each team along with some basic statistics for either the batting or pitching depending on what you’re viewing.

Final Thoughts

The hardcore baseball fan is more likely already fairly interested in the historical, statistical nature of Major League Baseball and I think Topps Pennant would prove a nice visual beautification from what they’re used to exploring. For those that are maybe not so intrigued by stats this app provides a really interesting interface to get interested and examine that aspect of the game.

Building an application that delivers baseball stats is one thing. Building an application that creates a fun and intuitive interface to explore stats is a whole other thing and I think Topps Pennant nails this aspect. The interface designed to examine statistics is really the game-changer. At $3.99 the app is a little on the spendy side, but it does include an iPad app along with it and I feel confident saying that you’ll have trouble finding a more a more entertaining way of wandering all of baseball’s historical data.


Summary

Browse the huge statistical database of Major League Baseball in a beautiful and engaging way in the palm of your hand.

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