Expanded replay won’t handle most missed calls

16 Comments

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.

Matt Carpenter hit a standup bunt double

Getty Images
3 Comments

The wave of defensive shifts we’ve seen over the past few years has led to a lot of armchair hitting coaches demanding that players bunt to beat it. This is easier said than done, however.

The shift happens because certain hitters tend to pull the ball. Certain hitters tend to pull the ball because pulling the ball is what happens when one gets a strong, quick swing on a pitch one identifies early and which one endeavors to send as far away from home plate as possible. Which is to say that pulling is a skill that is good to have and which is strongly selected for among hitters.

In light of that, “why not just bunt to beat the shift” takes are kind of lazy. Bunting is hard! And it is not a thing guys who get shifted a lot are good at. Most of the time asking a player to do a thing he is not well-equipped to do is a bad idea. Indeed, a hitter voluntarily going away from his strength is something the defense would much prefer.

Most of the time anyway.

Last night Matt Carpenter made those armchair hitting coaches happy by laying down a bunt to beat the shift. And he laid it down so well that he ended up with a standup double:

One batter later Carpenter scored on a Starlin Castro error.

The shift giveth and the shift taketh away.