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.
Today, we're going to take a look at some of the underappreciated umpires who might not ultimately be used all that much. However, when these guys are behind the dish, it's time to take some notice. You have to be careful not to miss your spots!
The first man that we are going to be looking at is David Rackley. Rackley is 5-0 for home teams this year, and he is actually doing a heck of a lot better for home teams than even some of the best umpires who are consistently behind the plate every four or five days. You might look back at some history and think that Rackley is only good for home teams because of the small sample set which we are discussing, but if you go back to last season, you'll see that perhaps there is an even more notable trend. In the 2012 season, Rackley went just 4-5 for home teams. However, he went 0-3 for home underdogs. This season, he hasn't even faced a situation in which the home team was the side expected to lose. Thus, Rackley is actually 12-2 over the course of the last two seasons for favored sides. Keep a close eye on this one going forward when Rackley is calling balls and strikes.
Lance Barrett though, is an umpire who we think is setting himself up to come back to earth at some point. There are two trends that Barrett is carrying this year in his eight games behind the plate. He is only 2-7 for 'over' bettors, and he is 7-2 for home teams. Last season though, Barrett went 13-8 for 'over' bettors, and he was basically a par-for-the-course type of umpire for home and away teams. Barrett has gone a perfect 6-0 for 'under' bettors when the 'total' is at least eight runs, but there is no way that he is going to keep up this average of 5.78 runs per game forever. Barrett is the perfect case of an umpire who just doesn't have enough of a sample set to consider trendy.
The only umpire that has a worse record from a percentage standpoint for 'over' bettors is the little-used Jim Wolf. Wolf has only averaged 5.83 runs per game in clashes that he has called this year, but he also has only umpired one game with a 'total' of higher than 8.5. Yes, that means that he has been dealing with some great pitching matchups, but he has been doing his job as well. Wolf though, has consistently been a par type of umpire for 'total' bettors in his career. Last season, for example, Wolf averaged watching 9.82 runs per game cross the plate in spite of the fact that he only had one game all of last season in which a 'total' of greater than 9.5 was featured. There is no doubt that things should regulate themselves, and when the veteran Wolf is out there, the 'over' should at least be considered.