Is There Instant Replay In MLB?

Fair Play Prevails: How Instant Replay Has Transformed MLB's Accuracy and Fairness on the Field
Written by Mark Bailey
Last updated on

Major League Baseball incorporates instant replay to review close calls, adding a layer of accuracy to the game that can alter the course of innings and outcomes. Dive into the pivotal moments when technology steps up to the plate to ensure the umpire’s eye isn’t the only one judging the play.

  • In 2010, a perfect game was ruined by an incorrect umpire call, leading to the MLB introducing instant replay in 2014.
  • The crew chief can initiate a replay after each play, or coaches may challenge calls within 20 seconds. With one challenge per team, a successful challenge lets them use another.
  • Most plays are reviewable, but certain subjective calls, such as balls or strikes, are still not able to be challenged.
  • Instant replay is considered accurate at 99.9%, with some replays taking up to 5-10 minutes to reach a decision.
  • Umpires must now pay closer attention during games, and mistakes are easier for fans to spot, making it an overall great asset for the game of baseball.

History of instant replay in MLB

As stated earlier, it was becoming clear to fans, players, and even the MLB that blown calls were becoming a big issue. Complaints were constantly flowing in across different platforms criticizing the umpire’s bad calls. The MLB felt the need to address this problem and form a response to the ongoing issue. 

Other sports at the time were beginning to implement instant replay into their sport. The MLB decided to add the option for umpires to review certain plays throughout a baseball game. Each team was also granted the ability to challenge a call. Instant replay was introduced as an idea in 2008. As usual, replays were gradually tested across lower levels of baseball, such as the MILB. 

Instant replay’s inaugural season in the MLB was in 2014. During the testing phases of replay, the crew chief was the only person who could initiate an instant replay of a call. Coaches did not have the ability to challenge a call. Over time, this was added to the rule so that coaches could also initiate an instant replay.

Current use of instant replay in MLB

With instant replay being a part of the MLB, certain rules surrounding the replay addition were created. 

Coaches have 20 seconds following the conclusion of a play to initiate an instant replay. If they wait longer, they are not allowed to challenge the call. 

Each team is granted one challenge per game. However, a successful challenge allows one more challenge for the successful team. 

Just about every type of play can be challenged except for a few. These few are called subjective calls. Subjective calls include things like balls or strikes, a foul tip, the infield fly rule, and a couple of other instances. 

Once a replay is initiated, the crew chief (head umpire) heads into the dugout. He then grabs a phone connected to MLB officials at the headquarters. They take a closer look at the play from every possible angle. After coming to a conclusion, they tell the umpire what the correct call is. The umpire then proceeds back onto the field to signal the correct call.

Pros and cons of instant replay in MLB

Instant replay has undoubtedly changed the game since its arrival on the scene. While some people see it as a good thing, others disagree with its inclusion in the game. 

Instant replay can provide us with the correct call every single time. That is at least true for calls that are reviewable. No one can complain about the right call being made. However, baseball can suffer from the same thing other sports like basketball and football have suffered from MLB. 

Momentum in sports is everything. It is constantly changing and decides the outcome of the game most of the time. When an instant replay is initiated, play comes to a complete halt. These reviews can sometimes take up to 5-10 minutes. These stoppages ruin the momentum of any sporting event and can possibly affect the outcome of the game. 

For example, the team on defense in a baseball game might be struggling while the offense is on a roll. Then, an instant replay is called, and play comes to a halt. This gives the defense time to regroup and talk over things. It allows them time to calm their nerves. This stoppage is also very likely to get the offense out of rhythm. 

While instant replay is a good thing, we must ensure these reviews are quick and to the point.

Future of instant replay in MLB

The game of baseball is constantly changing. We are in an ever-changing culture and must keep up with it. 

Instant replay was added to the game in response to bad calls being made in big situations. The perfect example is the near-perfect game by Gallaraga in 2010. Because of moments like this one, instant replay will remain a part of the game for many years to come. 

The MLB is currently considering changing some plays from non-reviewable to reviewable. The committee will vote on these changes, but none have been put into place yet. 

There are also talks of an automated strike zone being added to the game. This would eliminate the need for umpires as well. While it is being tested in lower leagues, it is not too likely to ever reach the MLB.

Frequently Asked Questions

When did MLB implement instant replay?

The inaugural season of instant replay in the MLB was the 2014 season. It was implemented after years of testing in lower-level leagues such as the MILB.

How accurate is an instant replay in MLB?

Instant replay is considered 99.9% accurate. With today’s technology, cameras are all over the place at baseball fields. The MLB command center now has cameras for every angle necessary to make the correct call.

What do MLB umpires think of instant replay?

Their first reaction was that they weren’t doing their job. Instant replay was created to correct their mistakes. The umpires were now forced to be at the top of their game for every call made. Instant replay exposed every mistake made by the umpire.

How long does instant replay take in MLB?

Usually, instant replay takes less than a couple of minutes. Some replays have gone up to 5–10 minutes. The difficulty of the call as well as the importance of the call determines the length of a replay.


Instant replay is a great thing for the game of baseball. Umpires are now forced to pay closer attention at every moment. Instant replay will show us every mistake an umpire makes. Even though humans make mistakes, we now have the ability to correct them. It is a great asset to have for the game of baseball. 

The only downside is when the replay takes an extended amount of time to reach a decision. Besides that, the replay implementation in 2014 has done wonders for the game. 

What are your thoughts on instant replay being used in the MLB?

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