Checking In On Instant Replay

How Has The New Replay System Fared So Far In 2014?



Major League Baseball deciding to implement instant replay more into games this season – with managers being able to “challenge” plays they believe are incorrect – was a very controversial subject around the league to start the season.

The main arguments against this new system were that it would cause games that were already too long to become even longer, and that it would take away from the human element of the game.

Now that we’re a month into the season, it’s time to check in on how the new replay system has fared so far this season.

For those of you that are unfamiliar with the new replay system, here are some of the basic rules for replays:

1. Each manager has the ability to challenge one play per game to be reviewed, and he can challenge as many reviewable calls within a single play as he desires using one challenge. If his challenge is correct, he is then granted one more challenge to use throughout the remainder of the game. No more challenges are granted if the manager is successful a second time.
2. After the seventh inning, it is up to the discretion of the umpiring crew to decide whether or not they want to review a play, providing that a manager has used up his challenge(s) for the game already.
3. There are certain plays that cannot be reviewed, such as the “neighborhood play” at second base and, of course, ball and strikes.

Back to some of the arguments against the new replay system, in particular the idea that reviewing plays causes unnecessary delays in games. The average replay this season, from the time the replay is initiated to the time the decision is made, only takes about 60-90 seconds, on average.

Now, there will always be outliers, but adding a few minutes to a game to possibly ensure your team gets a pivotal call called correctly doesn’t seem like that much of a sacrifice.

On this note, how successful have challenges been this season? The chart below shows the percent of challenged plays that have been overturned and vice versa:




To go a little more in-depth with the numbers, there have been 77 plays overturned and 100 plays not over turned.

While the majority of challenged plays have not been overturned, it still speaks to the effectiveness of the system that 44% of all plays that are challenged are overturned in favor of the challenging team.

A year ago, none of these calls would have been overturned and some teams might have been cost victories because of it. Take the Philadelphia Phillies, for example, as they won a pivotal call in the ninth inning of a game against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field that would have otherwise allowed the tying run, in Martin Prado, to remain at second base with Paul Goldschmidt at the plate and nobody out:

Overall, I think the replay system has done nothing but help the game of baseball. Sure, games might be a little bit longer, but for those of us who have churned our teeth at incorrect calls in the past it is a much appreciated change. Remember this play?

If instant replay was in effect at the time, former Tigers pitcher Armanda Galarraga would be a part of the select group of 23 individuals to throw a perfect game in MLB history, but he’s not.

Matt Stein is a season-credentialed media member covering the Tampa Bay Rays and Tampa Bay Buccaneers, also assisting with coverage of USF Athletics. He attended the University of Tampa and graduated with a Bachelor's of Science in Sport Management.