A look at challenge rates, success rates, and delays so far.
When a totally new system like Major League Baseball’s expanded instant replay—complete with brand-new job descriptions and job openings and technology—is assembled on the eve of the season, you’d imagine its implementation would look more like an evolution than the arrival of a fully formed process.
And by most accounts it has been. Whether it’s the change in the transfer rule that tangentially went along with it, or managers getting used to the silly choreography of how to argue with an umpire while simultaneously looking back at the dugout for a thumbs-up or a thumbs-down, everybody involved in the process seems to be getting better at it.
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Despite replay, ejections aren't down (or aren't down by much) this year.
I remember last summer, the day after Bob Melvin had been ejected in what would turn out to be an extra-innings loss to the Astros, Melvin talking to the media in the dugout. He was abashed to have been ejected from such a game. I wasn’t trying to get run, he stressed. As opposed to all the other ejections we see.
Why a second (or third) video replay analyst might be the best deal in baseball.
I had the honor of having lunch with Dan Brooks last week, and as we ate our sandwiches the conversation turned to my thesis. I mentioned that if I were running a team, I would strongly consider hiring dozens of new front office employees, because their salaries are so cheap compared to those of players that even if only a few of them ended up making substantive contributions, they would more than earn their collective keep.
Contact between a runner and catcher stirs confusion, plus Pineda, Salazar, Strasburg, and what to watch this weekend.
The Thursday Takeaway
Update: The original version of the Takeaway indicated that the new ban on catchers blocking the plate resulted in Starlin Castro being called safe. That was not the case, and this portion is now revised to reflect the umpire’s comments after the game.
Ervin Santana debutes for the Braves, plus more replay controversy, Hamilton and Harper, and what to watch today.
The Wednesday Takeaway
Strike, strike, strike, strike… okay, fine, I’ll spare you the next 16. But that’s how Ervin Santana began his Braves career: with 20 consecutive strikes, and 28 of them in his first 29 pitches.
Dissecting a new wrinkle in the rules that's causing confusion, plus the highlights from Tuesday and what to watch for on Wednesday.
The Tuesday Takeaway
A second baseman or shortstop fields a ground ball and throws it to his double-play partner at the keystone. The other middle infielder catches it with his foot on the bag. As he begins to remove the ball from his glove with his bare hand, the ball squirts away. The runner going to second is out. The batter is safe at first. And life goes on.
What do expanded replay's early returns tell us about how well the expanded replay system will work this season?
I give it one year until there’s a fundamental change to Major League Baseball’s new replay system.
I’d give it even less time if we weren’t less than three weeks from baseball season. While MLB certainly isn’t opposed to going seat-of-the-pants on this, the league probably won’t want to make another major change so soon.
Could the manager challenge system sink expanded instant replay?
About that instant replay system that MLB put in place—we found a little problem with it. It started with us asking a pretty easy question. What is the best strategy for a manager to use in deciding when to throw “the flag” to challenge a call? We were sitting around talking about it, and the answer that we came up with is actually kinda scary: Managers should just throw that flag for any close play, the first time that they see one. When we say any close play, we mean just about anything that they have a smidgen of belief could be overturned by consulting a replay. And they shouldn’t fear throwing it even in the first inning, or throwing it to contest something that would give them only a trivial advantage.