An early difference Craig Counsell is making as Chicago Cubs manager

The Chicago Cubs have not been known as a team that challenges calls with any real frequency in recent years; Craig Counsell appears ready to change that in 2024.
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Baseball is a game of inches. The first game of the three-game series between the Chicago Cubs and Los Angeles Dodgers portrayed that statement perfectly as outfielder Teoscar Hernandez was originally called safe on what would have been an infield single in the top of the 9th inning prior to Craig Counsell challenging the call.

The reality of the play was that Hernandez was out by the smallest fraction of a second and that swing of momentum, going from a situation with the bases loaded and just one out, to runners at second and third with two outs, changed the trajectory of the game. 

James Outman came up to the plate and lined out for what would be the last out of the game and “Go Cubs Go” rang out through the stadium as the Cubs had slain the goliath that is Shohei Ohtani, Mookie Betts, and the Dodgers. 

The manager’s challenge is something that writers and fans have grown frustrated about in recent years with many asking why managers don’t challenge calls more often. 

According to baseball reference, over the last four seasons with David Ross as the Cubs’ manager, the Cubs had challenged 128 calls with 58 of them being overturned for a success rate of 45.3%. With one of those seasons being the COVID-shortened 2020 season the 128 challenges came across 546 total games meaning Ross challenged a call in 23% of games.

Craig Counsell is already making a difference on the Chicago Cubs season.

This season, across seven games, Craig Counsell has already challenged three calls and has succeeded on two of them. That gives him a 66.7% success rate and would result in a challenge in about 70 games just this season alone. 

Fans may not like how much longer challenges can make the game, but these challenges make a difference in the outcome of the games. 

The challenge that Counsell made in the 9th against the Dodgers, for example, added 5% to the odds that the Cubs would come away victorious and the one that he challenged against the Rangers that added a baserunner in the 2nd inning added a 3% chance of victory.

In a game where the inches matter, and the margins for error are small enough that one out in one game in April can be the difference between a playoff spot and elimination in October, it’s good to see that Craig Counsell is continuing to use every resource at his disposal to give the Cubs a chance to win games.

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