Monday, Five Thirty Eight posted this detailed article examining baseball's replay-review system. What they were looking at primarily was how many reviews had been made (1,130 through September 7), how many had overturned calls on the field (47 percent), and other numbers that are all worth going through. What caught my attention, though, was this:
The Chicago Cubs’ Rick Renteria is far and away the most frequent challenger, using 48 challenges thus far this season. However, he’s only about 42 percent successful. The New York Yankees’ Joe Girardi is most successful, overturning calls at a 78 percent clip. But he’s only used 27 challenges this year. The worst challenger is the Toronto Blue Jays’ John Gibbons, who was 32 percent successful on 41 challenges.
Take a look at the graph above that quote -- Renteria appears to be an extreme outlier, sitting there all by himself in the number of challenges. Now, that might just mean that the Cubs have had more close plays this year, or it could mean that Renteria likes doing the "manager moonwalk" while looking back toward the dugout to see if a play is worth challenging. Given his 42 percent success rate compared to the average of 47 percent across all reviews, the additional challenges Renteria is using haven't been worth it, at least not so far.
The entire article is quite long, but well worth your time as it gives a detailed look into the review system, which in my view is working pretty well. It will need some tweaks as we go into 2015, and that was the intention all along. If you think reviews are taking too much time, the data says you're wrong;
An ever-present concern with replay in any sport is that it will slow the flow of the game. Totaled up, the challenges this year have taken about 2,031 minutes — over 1.4 days. This sounds long, but the average challenge takes only about 1 minute and 48 seconds. And there have been only 0.48 challenges per game on average — just slightly less than one every other game. So, all else equal, expanded replay challenges add less than a minute to any given game (about 52 seconds, to be precise). Also, there may be a good argument that challenges can actually shorten games by eliminating lengthy arguments born of a manager’s frustration — although certain commentators have made romantic arguments for these outbursts.
They could tighten up that time a bit, but if the average is less than two minutes, I think they're doing a very good job. The article concludes:
But baseball is a survivor — it evolves. And expanded replay will be accommodated. Arguments against replay are largely aesthetic. Largely gone may be the dirt-tossing, hat-throwing and even base-heaving. But if a few calls are resurrected from the graveyard of the specious, for the low, low price of a under a minute per game — who can argue with that?
I agree with this. If you're interested in a complete list of all reviews, the good folks at Retrosheet are keeping track of every single one of them, with excellent detail.