If you want to take your baseball handicapping up a notch, then you need to monitor home plate umpires. It’s going to take a lot of work to win money this summer and if you do not feel like doing it then take a look at the premium packages available at this site.
It used to be that the strike zones were different in the American and National Leagues. There was a time when American League umpires, who continued to wear outside chest protectors, gave a pitcher the high strike. Their National League counterparts behind the plate, who had already adopted inside protectors, gave a pitcher the low strike because they had more flexibility in bending over and could see that pitch better.
The last umpire to wear an outside protector was Jerry Neudecker in 1985. All home plate umpires wear inside protectors today, and work in both leagues. So things have changed a bit in the recent past, and every umpire will continue to be different. We can tell a little bit about which way a total will go, or whether the home or visiting team is more likely to win, simply by checking out the umpires.
You would think that the size of a strike zone would be the biggest differentiating factor in whether games are over or under with an umpire behind the dish. If an ump doesn’t give the pitcher a ton of strikes, he falls behind, and that means better pitches for the hitters. Or it means less strikeouts, more walks, and more baserunners, which means more issues for the pitcher.
The umpires with the propensity to call a game over the total are ones who, like you would think, yield more walks in a game. Umpires who have bigger strike zones tend to call more strikeouts per game, which is clearly in favor of the pitcher. Let’s take a look at some of the umpires you should keep track of heading into the 2015 season based on how they performed behind the plate in 2014.
I did notice some correlation here. Chris Segal finished 1st in lack of strikeouts at 13.20, so it was no surprise to see him 4th in runs scored per game at 9.96. In general, the umpires who had low K totals per game had high run totals. There wasn’t as big of a correlation for guys with high K totals and low-scoring games. Hitters will chase more in these games, yes, but they will also be more aggreessive at the plate, which could lead to plenty of runs being scored.
Higher walk totals certainly led to higher-scoring games last year. Lower walk totals led to more lower-scoring games. The umpires with the highest walk totals saw average runs scored of 8.43, 7.38, 7.83, 9.30 and 8.94, respectively. The umpires with the lowest walk totals last year saw average runs scored of 7.13, 5.82, 6.90, 6.80 and 8.27, respectively. So, walk totals are certainly worth monitoring if you are an over/under player.