Scraping XML Tables with R

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A couple of my good friends also recently started a sports analytics blog. We’ve decided to collaborate on a couple of studies revolving around NBA data found at www.basketball-reference.com. This will be the first part of that project!

Data scientists need data. The internet has lots of data. How can I get that data into R? Scrape it!

People have been scraping websites for as long as there have been websites. It’s gotten pretty easy using R/Python/whatever other tool you want to use. This post shows how to use R to scrape the demographic information for all NBA and ABA players listed at www.basketball-reference.com.

Here’s the code:

###### Settings
library(XML)
 
###### URLs
url<-paste0("http://www.basketball-reference.com/players/",letters,"/")
len<-length(url)
 
###### Reading data
tbl<-readHTMLTable(url[1])[[1]]
 
for (i in 2:len)
	{tbl<-rbind(tbl,readHTMLTable(url[i])[[1]])}
 
###### Formatting data
colnames(tbl)<-c("Name","StartYear","EndYear","Position","Height","Weight","BirthDate","College")
tbl$BirthDate<-as.Date(tbl$BirthDate[1],format="%B %d, %Y")

And here’s the result:Result

 

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