Earlier this week I talked about the six instant replay challenges that helped the Orioles the most in 2014. Now, I don't know if you know this, but it turns out that other teams can initiate challenges too -- not just the Orioles. I know, I know ... I was shocked. But it's in the rules, and it happened.
The Orioles were challenged 30 times in 2014. 13 of these challenges were successful. They hurt the team's run expectancy to the tune of about 6.2 runs, which is not a large amount. Let's look at the most damaging challenges.
Tie for fifth place: (-0.3920 runs)
There were four challenges this year that all hurt the Orioles' run expectancy by the same amount. Each play involved changing from a one-out, runner on first situation (0.4782 runs) to a two out, no one on situation (0.0862 runs). Sometimes the call hurt the Orioles directly; sometimes the call helped the opponent.
- June 8th: Jonathan Schoop single changed to out. The Orioles were never really in this game against the Athletics, as a Brandon Moss grand slam helped put the Birds in an early 6-0 hole. In the bottom of the 9th, trailing 11-1, Jonathan Schoop hit a one-out ground ball to shortstop. Umpire Gabe Morales spread his arms for the safe call, but Bob Melvin had other ideas. He challenged the ruling on the field, and Schoop was out. The next batter, Nick Hundley, also grounded out to end the game.
- June 27th: Kevin Kiermaier out is reversed. Kiermaier, the young Rays outfielder, was batting against Chris Tillman in the top of the 6th with one out and no one on base. He bunted the ball cleanly up the first base line; Tillman grabbed it and threw him out. Or so Jim Wolf called. Joe Maddon had a different view, and his prevailed. But the Orioles got the last laugh in a 4-0 win.
- June 29th: J.J. Hardy single is overruled. Two days later in the same series, J.J. Hardy was batting against Rays reliever Brad Boxberger in the top of the sixth with one out. Hardy pulled the ball on the ground to the left side and Evan Longoria's throw appeared to be too late. Maddon initiated another challenge and was rewarded when Hardy was called out. The Orioles ended up losing the game 12-7.
- August 2nd: Delmon Young is erased at first. In the top of the sixth inning against the Mariners, with the Orioles trailing 4-2, Delmon Young chopped a ground ball to third baseman Kyle Seager. Seager made a great play on it and fired a bullet to first base. First base umpire Tim Timmons ruled Young safe, setting the stage for a possible Orioles rally. But Seattle manager Lloyd McClendon protested and the call on the field was reversed. The Orioles lost the game by a score of 6-3.
Is it a coincidence that this play, like two of the three others described above, occurred in the top of the sixth? ... Probably.
June 11th: Nick Hundley is forced at second (-0.3985 runs)
May 18th: Alex Gordon is not forced at second; August 10th, Jhonny Peralta safe at second on Schoop error (-0.7127 runs)
These plays were both of the same stripe. In each case, a potential two-out, runner-on-first situation was turned into a one-out, runners-on-first-and-second situation. On May 18th against the Royals, Gordon was on first base while Ubaldo Jimenez faced Salvador Perez. Perez smacked a ball over the mound and up the middle. Jonathan Schoop dove to his right and stretched to get the ball and flip to J.J. Hardy at second. It was a quick play and umpire Doug Eddings called Gordon safe, but replays proved him incorrect. The Orioles lost 8-6 despite a ninth-inning three-run jack by Adam Jones.
Similarly, on August 10th against the Cardinals, T.J. McFarland was facing Jon Jay with Peralta on first base. The Cardinals were leading 4-3 in the top of the 7th. Ryan Flaherty, who was at shortstop that day, dove to his left and flipped the ball to Schoop, who received it well before Peralta reached the bag. Schoop caught the ball but it appeared to squirt out of his hand as he tried to make the throw to first base.
Shortly after he dropped the ball, Umpire Jeff Nelson raised his hand for the out sign, but Mike Matheny thought otherwise. After a very long chat with the replay office in New York, the call was overturned, and Schoop was charged with an error. This was the play where Buck Showalter stormed out of the dugout and demanded to speak with the replay umpires in New York. He was ejected.
Was Buck right? Judge for yourself here. The Orioles ended up losing the game 8-3.
May 13th: Rajai Davis' legs barely beat Caleb Joseph's arm (-0.7999 runs)
In the top of the ninth inning in Detroit, Tommy Hunter came in to protect a 1-0 lead. Remember, he was the Orioles' closer then! Alex Avila rudely greeted him with a single into left field. Avila was replaced on the basepaths by Rajai Davis, who promptly took off for second base. Caleb Joseph appeared to nail Davis with a perfect throw. The broadcaster started raving about his arm. But upon review, Davis was actually safe.
it was the first in a string of blows for Hunter that evening, who ended up going boom a few more times to hand the Tigers the game, 4-1. It was his third blown save of the year, and although fans didn't know it then, his time was about up. Zach Britton saved the Orioles' next chance, on May 15th, and became the team's regular closer soon afterwards.
August 30th: Trevor Plouffe called safe on Schoop's error (-1.1629 runs)
In the top of the fourth with no one out and Trevor Plouffe on first, Twins catcher Kurt Suzuki hit a Chris Tillman fastball to shortstop for a seemingly routine double play. J.J. Hardy scooped up the ball and flipped underhand to Schoop, who let it bounce into and out of his glove. Second base umpire Mike Winters thought Schoop had control of the baseball and called Plouffe out. Ron Gardenhire came out to argue though, and Plouffe was ruled safe and Schoop was charged with an error.
One out with a runner on first was changed to nobody out with runners on first and second. The Orioles were in a tight spot, as it was a tie game and the Twins had the upper hand. But Tillman got Eduardo Escobar to hit into a fielder's choice, got Jordan Schaefer to line out, and struck out Danny Santana. The Orioles ended up winning the game 3-2 in a successful debut for utilityman Jimmy Paredes, who hit not only a run-scoring double but also a solo shot.
You can watch a replay of this play here.
Here's the full list, sorted by run expectancy hurt to the Orioles:
|Play that was challenged
|RE if on-field call had stood
|RE after overturn
|Total RE taken away from O's or given to opponents
|Trevor Plouffe out at second
|R. Davis out stealing second
|Jhonny Peralta out at second
|Gordon out at second
|Rubby de la Rosa
|Nick Hundley safe at second
|Delmon Young safe at first
|Hardy safe at first
|Kiermaier out at first on a bunt-for-hit attempt
|Schoop safe at first
|Chirinos out at second going for a double
|LaRoche was not hit by a pitch
|Adam Jones safe at first
|Alex Rios out at first
|Average runs per call
All in all, the total pain to the Orioles (6.2 runs) was a little bit less than the 7.4 runs they gained by challenging. But the totals are very close. Assuming all the challenges were executed correctly, which is not a 100% sure thing, it seems that the bad calls against the Orioles evened out. Funny, I think I've heard that somewhere before ...