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A brief history of the A's and instant replay

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Have you been dying to know the A's stats in replay reviews? No? Click here anyway!

The instigator of many replays.
The instigator of many replays.
Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Hey, it's still the offseason. Let's look at the A's and instant replay!

A brief history of replay itself

The first replay ever was used to judge a homerun hit by Alex Rodriguez, because of course it was. That first instance took place in 2008, and instant replay was slowly ratcheted up until it was fully implemented in 2014. There were some notable replays along the way including a Billy Butler walkoff homerun and a Adam Rosales homerun that wasn't thanks to anti-HDTV, but things were pretty quiet for that time.

In 2014, replay was expanded to give managers the chance to challenge plays when desired. At first, managers were granted one challenge at the beginning of the game and if they succeeded on that challenge, they were granted a second challenge. Managers can challenge at any point in the game, and umpiring crews can call for challenges from the 7th inning on if a team has used all of their challenges. Umpiring crews can also challenge homerun calls from innings #1-6.

Challenges can not be used on so called judgment calls; judgment calls include things like balls and strikes, check swings, interference, or obstruction. This is presumably to keep the pace of the game moving, to avoid controversy on subjective calls, and to give us all something to bitch and moan about.

There were a few, fairly unimportant changes to replay in 2015. Managers no longer have to leave the dugout to invoke a challenge, which, ok, cause managers just HATE going to complain to umpires.  The only major change from 2015 is that teams retain any challenges following an overturned ruling, whereas previously teams maxed out at two challenges per game.

The A's and replay

As mentioned above, the first instance of the A's in replay happened in 2013 with the famed Adam Rosales non homerun. The ball clearly left the yard but even upon review on what I'm pretty sure was a comically over-sized Palm Pilot, Angel Hernandez (of course) upheld the incorrect call that the ball stayed in the yard.  Of course this play involved awful umpire Angel Hernandez and of course it involved utility infielder/nicest guy ever Adam Rosales. Of course it did.

Replay was long in the works, but I like to pretend the A's were the main proponent of bringing the replay revolution to baseball. The A's went on to lose this game at least in part because of this call. All was well however, as the A's went on to smash the stupid Angels and the stupid Rangers for the division title.

2014 and onward

With the new rules implemented, the A's were involved in the first umpire initiated review when umpire Mike Winters utilized replay to see whether former catcher John Jaso illegally blocked the plate while tagging out Michael Brantley. He didn't, and the call stood as was.

How have the A's done in replay since the new rules were applied to put the onus on managers?  The A's were exactly .500 in their challenges in 2014, locked in a 4 way tie for 18th place in the league. In case you were wondering, the Yankees were first in the league, winning 74.2% of their challenges while the Blue Jays managed to win a paltry 34.8% of theirs. You can find the full list of results from 2014 here.

Interestingly (or not), the A's ranked second to last in total challenges at just 28 over the course of the season. The Cubs ranked first with an astounding 55 challenges, of which they managed to win only 24. Teams that challenged more tended to win less which makes sense, as there are only so many reviewable blown calls.

Here's how the A's did on plays they initiated the challenge. The numbers in parenthesis indicate how many they won (for example, they won 4 of the 11 tag play challenges)

Total Challenges Won Lost Tag Plays Play at 1st Force play Catch vs. Drop Touching a base
27 14 (51%) 13 (49%) 11 (4) 10 (8) 3(2) 2 (0) 1 (0)

What's the takeaway here? There isn't much of one without knowing how many challenges the A's could have won in theory. I'm glad the A's weren't like the 2014 Cubs, challenging everything, winning nothing, and wasting all of our damn time. If 2016 goes poorly and the A's are devoid of entertainment, I'd love to start seeing Bob Melvin use his challenges on Billy Butler groundouts, specifically while Angel Hernandez is working.

How about challenges against the A's. Have another chart!

Total Challenges Won Lost Tag Plays Play at 1st Force play HBP Fair vs. Foul Catch vs. Drop
37 19 (51%) 18 (49%) 20 (9) 11 (7) 2 (1) 2 (0) 1 (1) 1 (1)

Can you believe there were two challenges on hit by pitches? One was for an opposing player who thought he got hit, the other was an opposing team thinking Eric Sogard wasn't hit by a pitch, when in fact he was. I know baseball players can be overly dramatic, but the Real Face of the MLB doesn't cheat. Preposterous.

Some other fun facts!

-When the A's were being challenged, they were at the bat 20 of the 37 times. Brett Lawrie was at the plate an astounding 5 of those times! He's always in on the action.

-Remember that play where Brett Lawrie almost murdered Alcides Escobar's (sometimes known as Sedicla) knee? The A's challenged that play, which seems like just a bit of a bold move. But eh, gotta play to win I suppose. The A's lost that challenge.

-Of the A's 27 challenges in 2015, only 6 came after the July 31st trade deadline. Big props to Bob for not dragging that season on any further.

-The longest challenge thus far took over 10 freaking minutes and you guessed it, your A's were involved. In 2014, challenges took a total of 2 days, 5 hours and 34 minutes.

Can you guess which of these are real umpires and which of these are made up umpire names?

7 are real, 3 are fake:

DJ Reyburn

Tom Woodring

William Vilwater

Wolfgang Meisner

Quinn Wolcott

Stu Scheurwater

Wesley Adamson

Tim Timmons

Mike Muchlinski

John Tumpane

Thanks for taking the tour of replay city!

What replay do you remember most?