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Miami Marlins' Pat Shine successful in video replay challenges

The Miami Marlins since 2014 have had Pat Shine handle their video replay challenges to great success. Just how much of an impact has he had?

Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

The Miami Marlins have had the pleasure of having Pat Shine serve as the team's video coordinator. He is tasked with the goal of reviewing plays every game to see if there are any opportunities for the Marlins to gain an edge on video replay challenges. The team has Shine cooped up with several video angles, and when there is a potential blown call recognized by either the bench or by Shine, a call is made between him and the dugout and they deliberate on the potential for a challenge.

Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald reports that under Shine, the Fish have done pretty well for themselves.

Since 2014, the Marlins have challenged 69 calls, which is slightly below the league average of 76 challenges per team. The Marlins’ 65 percent success rate is second only to the Yankees’ 77 percent.

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The Fish have challenged fewer times than average, but they are nailing their challenges pretty decently, with a success rate ranked second in the league. It is easy to hear that and say "that's good!" But the interesting thing is to try and put a value to Shine's contributions for the Marlins since 2014. After all, baseball is not won by calls one way or another, but by runs scored or prevented, and unlike a lot of things that the Marlins' coaching staff can do, there is a clear and evident run value in getting calls overturned under Shine. Hits are turned into outs, outs into hits, and each of those events is worth a certain number of runs.

Of course, without perusing through the entire database and calculating out the value of each call, we can just estimate the value of an average call. The large majority of calls are going to be based on whether a baserunner is out or safe, and we can use a general estimate of safe/out values to estimate the run value of overturned calls. When we consider the value of converting a batted ball into an out on defense, we generally consider the difference in value between an out and a safe batted ball to be about 0.7 runs. Getting safely aboard, in a general situation stripped of context, is worth almost 3/4 of a run as compared to making out.

From there, we can use the numbers listed above. On 69 challenged plays overall, the Marlins have succeeded on 65 percent of those plays. With each success being worth 0.7 runs, the Fish may have earned themselves 31 runs over two-plus seasons. That is a huge gain! That may have been three wins over these two-plus years that the Marlins might have missed out on had they not made any challenges or succeeded in no challenges. I do not know if there are a lot of coaches on staff who could make that kind of win-based claim!

But of course, the alternative for the Marlins is not never challenging plays, but rather to have another person other than Shine back there throwing out the challenges or advising the coaching staff about questionable calls. The average challenge overall in the last two-plus years has been successful 49 percent of the time. That does include umpire-decided reviews along with the team reviews. If we compare Shine against the average, how many runs would he save over the typical league-wide group?

As compared to the league average, Shine has only saved almost eight runs more. That is still pretty decent given the opportunities we are discussing. That is approximately how much defensive value guys like Brandon Phillips and Chase Utley have brought by saving batted balls on the field compared to the average second baseman. That is about how well Dustin Pedroia has done on offense since 2014. Only four Marlins batters since 2014 have had more offensive contributions than Shine's play-challenge contributions. That is a pretty valuable commodity!

The team's success on the challenge forefront has emboldened Don Mattingly to have Shine challenge early and often.

New Marlins manager Don Mattingly said he prefers taking his chances early.

"I don’t worry about the percentage of misses or wins," Mattingly said. "It doesn’t mean anything. You never know when an out turns into runs. It could be the first inning.

"You could say, ‘Oh, I don’t want to burn my challenge in the first.’ But then you get that call and the next thing you know, you get a rally and score three or four runs. That may be your only chance."

So Mattingly has asked Shine to be more aggressive.

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It is easy to say when you apparently have a pretty decent contributor like Shine, but the success rate of a challenger and, more particularly, the likelihood of success on a given play plays a huge role. Shine himself points that out.

"The biggest thing is getting a feel for what’s conclusive and what’s inconclusive," Shine said. "If it’s not conclusive, it’s going to be tough to have it overturned. But there are times where you’re not really worried about if it’s going to be overturned or not. It’s still the right decision to be made to help the team win."

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What he discusses here is the cost of these challenges in the context of their plays and with Win Probability Added (WPA) considered. It is the same thing that I have done in the past with baserunning decisions. There are plays that are guarantees to overturn based on the video evidence that may happen early and may not have a strong impact on the game. On the other hand, there may be harder plays that warrant more attention. If the play has minimal value added on success or failure in terms of the chances the Marlins have to win, then the break-even point of success on the challenge is pretty high; you are going to have to be certain that the challenge is good. However, if the play is a crucial one and the payoff is large enough, the break-even point drops, and coin flips become worthwhile challenges.

The important thing here is that it is good to see someone in the dugout or dugout extended managing a process-based analysis of a situation, and doing so on the fly with minimal time to deliberate. Rather than focusing on whether a challenge was a bad idea because it failed or a good one because it succeeded, Shine appears to be thinking about the relative value of the challenge for the game versus the value of that play for his team. It is the right idea, and more Marlins fans and members of the staff should be aware.