Expanded replay won’t handle most missed calls

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That’s because most missed calls are balls and strikes, which will decidedly not be in instant replay’s bailiwick. Brian Costa of the WSJ:

When assessing whether a pitch is a ball or a strike, umpires get the call wrong around 8% of the time, according to a review of every call this season (through Sept. 10) by Inside Edge, a professional scouting service used by 15 major-league teams.  That translates to an average of 8.8 incorrect calls per game behind the plate … Excluding balls and strikes, MLB research found that umpires miss only one call every five games, according to Atlanta Braves president John Schuerholz, who helped devise the new replay system. Yet the massive expansion leaves balls and strikes outside the scope of replay.

Yet we’re going to get challenges to a lot of calls anyway simply because giving a challenge system to a manager will demand its use.

I’m prepared to be surprised, but if I were a betting man, I bet games get longer due to expanded replay, not shorter. The system MLB is proposing basically demands it.

Mariners claim Kaleb Cowart off waivers from Angels

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The Mariners announced that the club claimed Kaleb Cowart off waivers from the Angels. Interestingly, the Mariners list Cowart as both an outfielder and a right-handed pitcher. Cowart has never pitched professionally, but the Mariners will try him as a two-way player next season, Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times reports. Cowart was a highly regarded pitcher in high school.

Cowart, 26, has played all over the field, spending most of his time at third base and second base, but also logging a handful of innings at first base, shortstop, and left field.  He hasn’t hit much at all, owning a career .177/.241/.293 triple-slash line across 380 plate appearances in the big leagues. It makes sense to try another angle.

Shohei Ohtani, of course, is helping to popularize the rebirth of the two-way player. In his first year in the majors after having played in Japan for five years, Ohtani won the AL Rookie of the Year Award by posting a .925 OPS in 367 plate appearances along with a 3.31 ERA over 10 starts. Don’t expect Cowart to hit those lofty numbers, but additional versatility could prolong his life in the majors.