Batter up! Umpires do a heck of a lot more than just call balls and strikes. Each one of those calls has an effect on how the end result of a game pans out. Join us today at Bang the Book, as we look at some of the most notable trends involving umpires thus far this season.
You would generally think that more runs equals more 'over' games. However, that isn't always the case when push comes to shove, as seen in this week's Umpire Report.
There are only three umpires this year that are averaging at least 10 runs per game in the outings they have umpired this year. The man leading the charge is Ed Hickox. Hickox has been doing his job for 'over' bettors, and it's not surprising that he has one of the best 'over' records in the game at 13-5-1 in his 19 starts. Interestingly enough, Hickox doesn't allow all that many free passes, as his 5.1 walks per game is the fourth lowest mark in the game. This is definitely a sign though, that batters are generally getting a bit luckier when Hickox is behind the dish, and the 'under' games could be more in line soon.
The best 'over' ump in the game is Angel Hernandez. Hernandez has a whopping 18-5 record in his games this year against the 'total', and the run production shows just that at 10.0 runs per game. Hernandez is +13.0 units this year for 'over' bettors, easily the best mark in the game, and the 'under' drop of 15.6 units is insane. Hernandez though, just like Hickox, is only averaging 5.4 walks per game this year, and that's one of the lowest marks in the game.
The last man averaging 10.0 runs per game in his officiated outings is DJ Reyburn. Reyburn has only called eight games this year though, and the 'total' range, which you would figure to be relatively high, is only split at 4-4. Reyburn had a start behind the dish on July 31st, and the game went past the number.
Beyond this though, you would probably be a bit surprised to see the over/under record for some of the umpires. Marvin Hudson, for example, is seeing 9.9 runs per game hit the board in games in which he was wearing blue, but he is only 14-11 for 'over' bettors. Even worse is the fact that Hudson has only gone 3-4 for 'over' bettors in his last seven starts, and that just shouldn't cut it for a man who is averaging 9.9 runs per game.
The good news is that all 13 umpires who have called at least 19 games this year and are averaging at least 9.0 runs per game do have winning records for 'over' bettors. On the contrary, the 12 umpires who are seeing 7.5 runs per game or fewer scored in their starts are all winning for 'under' bettors as well.
There is though, an exception to the rules. Wally Bell is 12-11 for 'over' bettors this year, which isn't anything out of the ordinary. What is unusual though, is that all of his splits suggest an 'under' umpire. Bell averages issuing just 5.5 walks per game against 14.0 strikeouts per game, and the average night only sees 7.7 runs per game go on the board. What is helping Bell push games beyond the number so often is the fact that so many 'totals' are so low in games in which he is umpping. The veteran umpire has already had 11 games this season in which the 'total' has been either 7.0 or 7.5, and those are the types of 'totals' that get a lot of umpires in trouble. He has also seen some fantastic pitching performances as well over the course of this season, including a pair of 1-0 games, one of which came in April and one of which came in May.