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A Review Of 2014 Replay Review

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This system is under review. (Not sponsored by Samsung.)

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

We have had one full season of replay review in Major League Baseball. What are the results, what have we learned, and what can be tweaked or changed in the system going forward?

You can see all the statistics and results from this year at this link, a comprehensive database of every replay review done during the 2014 season, including home-run reviews. Remember that the home-run review is a separate rule from the challenge system, at least for now.

There were 1,274 reviews made during the 2014 season. As there were 2,430 games played this year, that comes to an average of a little more than one review for every two games. This jibes with what I expected before the season -- that is, that many games would have no reviews at all, while some might have more than one. 607 calls (47.65 percent) were overturned; again, that's about what might have been expected, about half the calls being ruled either "confirmed" (that is, there was sufficient video evidence to prove the call on the field correct) or "stands" (that is, there wasn't enough video evidence to overturn the call on the field). The site doesn't differentiate between "confirmed" or "stands" calls.

As I noted here about a month ago, Cubs manager Rick Renteria was the most frequent challenger this past season. The final numbers show Renteria made 56 challenges, 4.4 percent of the total. Next highest was John Gibbons of the Blue Jays, 48 challenges. The title of "most infrequent challenger" goes to Bob Melvin of the Athletics, 25 challenges.

224 reviews were called for by the umpires -- about 17 percent. These were primarily reviews after the sixth inning, when the challenge system ends. I don't recall a single instance where a manager came out in the seventh inning or later to ask for a review and was denied.

So the system works, even with the somewhat bizarre sight of the "Manager Moonwalk," where managers shuffle slowly out to visit umpires while keeping an eye on the bench coach or another dugout figure who's charged with talking to a team employee watching video to determine whether a play is worth challenging or not.

The site lists 16 different types of plays that can be challenged or reviewed under the current system:

fair or foul in outfield fan interference force play grounds rule hit by pitch home run home plate collision other passing runners play at 1st record keeping stadium boundary call tag play timing play touching a base trap play

"Record keeping" reviews were all initiated by umpires; there were just nine of them. These involve things such as reviewing the ball-strike count to a batter, the number of outs in an inning or the score of the game (can't imagine the last one would be that hard to keep track of!). The "other" category lists just 10 reviews. If you want to delve further into this you can check out the MLB Replays Twitter feed, which has video of every review call made. There's a discrepancy between the link above and the Twitter feed in the total number of reviews (the site says 1,274, the feed says 1,258) and I'm not sure where the missing 16 plays are.

Anyway, as you can see, virtually all plays can be reviewed. One category that can't is whether a ball is fair or foul in the infield. I'd like to see that added for 2015.

I wasn't in favor of the "challenge" system when it was first announced. The point of review is to get the calls right, not to add an element of strategy to the game. Once a challenge is lost, that manager loses the right to challenge -- until the seventh inning, when he can make "requests." There weren't many, if any, managers who found themselves in situations where they couldn't get a review when they needed one, but this part of the rule might need, uh, review. It makes little sense that, for example, a manager who loses a second-inning challenge can't ask for a review again -- until the seventh inning, when he can make a "request." However, in general the challenge system works all right.

One change I'd make to the system is to limit the amount of time that a review can take. Many reviews were done in a minute or so, which is far less time than an argument about a call would have taken before the system was in place. But there were others that took four minutes or longer, which is way too long. What I'd do is limit the review time to the length of an inning break: about two and a half minutes. That should be enough time to figure a play out and if the reviewers can't do it in that amount of time, then there probably isn't enough video evidence to overturn and it should be "call stands."

I'd like to see fair/foul calls in the infield added to the list of reviewable plays. They're also going to have to do something about Rule 7.13 -- the catcher-collision rule. They've already tweaked it to some extent, but the intent of the rule was never to allow all runners to simply have a path to the plate while the catcher has to get out of the way. Realizing that the official replay-review rules and procedures are already pretty long and complex, they need to make a few changes to the system to make it better.

Which isn't to say that it isn't already good. I think replay review worked very, very well, for the most part. It's inaugurated a new era of civility on the field. Sure, some of you will miss the Lou Piniella-type base-throwing, screaming and yelling manager/umpire arguments, but I'd rather have it this way. The manager comes out, has a nice discussion with the umpire, the play gets reviewed and the results reflect what the players actually did on the field, rather than what one man (or four men) thinks.

Congratulations to MLB officials, who got this one (mostly) right.