The Blue Jays Have the Lowest Success Rate in Manager Challenges This Year

As I was watching the bizarre sequence of events during yesterday’s ninth inning between the Blue Jays and the Red Sox, I was thinking to myself … John Gibbons and the Blue Jays must not have a very good record in challenges this season.

They don’t. In fact, they have the worst record in challenges this season by success rate.

The Blue Jays have challenged 46 calls this season alone, 17 of which have been successfully overturned. That translates to a 39% success rate, otherwise known as the worst in all of baseball.


Data via Baseball Reference
Click image to enlarge – Data via Baseball Reference

Technically, John Gibbons and the Blue Jays slightly edged out Dusty Baker and the Washington Nationals for the least successful percentage of manager challenges this season. Gibbons is at 39.13% while Baker stands at 39.4%.

This may be fuel for confirmation bias, but at the conclusion of yesterday’s Blue Jays game, I just kept wondering why the Jays seem to get hosed on these calls more often than any other team. On multiple occasions, when the evidence is “conclusive”, it’s murky at best.

Compare the Blue Jays’ 39% success rate to the Royals’ MLB-best 68% success rate in challenges (Ned Yost is 24 for 35 this season), and you begin to wonder how much of an impact those calls might’ve had on the Blue Jays’ season thus far.

While there’s no definitive win or loss probability shift after a manager’s challenge, the Blue Jays win probability added on their challenged calls this season ranges all the way from 24% win probability added to 39% win probability subtracted (via Gibby’s Baseball-Reference manager’s page).

Since the inception of instant replay calls in 2014, John Gibbons and the Blue Jays simply have some of the worst luck. Last year, Gibbons owned a 44% success rate in challenges, and in 2014, the Blue Jays had an MLB-worst 30% success rate.

Ian Hunter

Ian has been writing about the Toronto Blue Jays since 2007. He enjoyed the tail-end of the Roy Halladay era and vividly remembers the Alex Rodriguez "mine" incident. He'll also retell the story of Game 5 of the 2015 ALDS to his kids for the next 20 years.

5 thoughts on “The Blue Jays Have the Lowest Success Rate in Manager Challenges This Year

  • September 12, 2016 at 1:45 pm

    it’s not luck, you have american umpires who are biased toward american teams. travis was called out at 3rd on review despite no clear view yet holt is called safe despite a clear view of a tag. I feel like we are in the deep south and it’s 1950 and I just got pulled over by boss hog. nesn color guys said holt looked safe yet buck and tabby said he was out. there you go.

  • September 12, 2016 at 6:07 pm

    I think some caveats are in order. First, managers can ask umpires to review a play, especially if the manager’s lost his challenge earlier in the game. I don’t think those reviews are included in the stats provided above, and I’m willing to bet that the numbers for the Jays would be worse, but having them would provide a more complete picture.

    Given that no manager has more than 50 challenges this year thus far, each challenge equates to more percentage points. In other words, the percentage figures can exaggerate one’s perception of those success rates. For example, John Gibbons and Jeff Banister both have 43 challenges, but Banister really only has 3 more overturned than Gibbons. That’s reflected in the graph as a seemingly large) 7% difference, and positions Banister about 7 places ahead of Gibbons out of just 30 managers.

    “the Blue Jays win probability added on their challenged calls this season ranges all the way from 24% win probability added to 39% win probability subtracted.”
    I’m curious as to how they calculated the changes to “win probability,” but to me, it doesn’t really matter anyway. What matters more is: how much did the result of the challenge affect their chances of winning/losing? The wWPA figure doesn’t provide much insight in this regard…and it’s tricky. The wWPA description reads: “Given average teams, this is the change in probability of [the] eventual winner winning the game from the start of this play to the end of the play.” Consider the game against the Rangers on May 2nd: since the Rangers eventually won that game, the “39% win probability” should be subtracted from the Rangers; not the Jays. That would imply that even though the Jays challenged the call (out at home), which was also upheld, the call *reduced* the chances of a Rangers win by 39% immediately after the challenge was upheld…even though the Rangers ultimately won that game! Again, I don’t know how wWPA was calculated, but it doesn’t seem particularly meaningful given that the final score is what counts over the course of a season.

    Overall, I’m wary of placing too much emphasis on challenge success/failure rates in relation to a team’s chances of winning.

    • September 12, 2016 at 8:36 pm

      One more thought: if we want to consider the impact of replay challenges on the Jays, we should also look at the results of challenges made by other teams against the Jays in addition to those made by John Gibbons, and those initiated by the umpires.

      • September 12, 2016 at 8:43 pm

        Oh yeah, I’m not putting a great deal of stock in these statistics. I just find it odd that the Blue Jays have been among the lowest success rates the past 3 years running.

        Is it bad angles at the RC? Do the Blue Jays just choose bad plays to review? I really don’t have the answer, it’s just weird.

  • October 8, 2016 at 4:33 pm

    Jays definitely cannot win a challenge because it all comes out of New York. Keep non American teams out of playoffs???

Comments are closed.