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.
Brian Knight has had an interesting season behind the plate to say the least. Home teams are 12-5 in games that he has called and he has a smaller strike zone than almost any umpire in baseball. Knight averages calling 7.35 walks per game, the third highest rate of any umpire with at least 5 appearances behind the plate this season. You might think that this higher incidence of walks would lead to more overs since an umpire can help influence baserunners and thus runs. However, when Knight is behind the plate the under has been 10-7 this season.
If you like to bet on home sides in baseball, than you want to stay away from the next umpire we profile, Bill Welke. When Welke is behind the dish, home teams are just 5-10 and -$1069 on the season per the MLB betting lines. Big home underdogs are especially unlucky when Welke is calling the shots, as favorites of -161 or higher are 0-5, severely stinging any gamblers bankroll. Comparing him to other umpires, Welke seems to be a laissez-faire ump. His 5.20 walks called per game are in the bottom 10 of called walks per game involving umpires of with at least five appearances this season and his 13.40 strikeouts called per game is in the bottom five. Bill Welke may just like to see the players play and home teams struggle, just like his older brother.
Tim Welke has also presided over one of the worst records for home teams for any umpire and in brotherly fashion, home teams records in games he calls are 5-10 (just like his brother!) but singe your bankroll at $350 less on the year according to the MLB odds. Unlike his brother, Tim has a walk rate that is around average for MLB umpires, but like his brother has one of the lowest K rates of any umpire in the major leagues. Maybe the Welke brothers just don't like the limelight that comes from calling strikeouts or maybe they had a bad experience with a pitcher in Little League, but if you're a high strikeout guy like Max Scherzer you grimace when one of the Welke's leans over behind your catcher.
Who has been profitable behind the plate for home bettors in MLB? Well, he topped the list before and is now topping it again. Chris Conroy might love the support and adulation he gets making calls that are advantageous to the home team. Home sides are 11-3 in games that Conroy calls this year and have made $820. The games have been relatively not close too, with home teams averaging 2.57 more runs than road teams with Conroy umpiring. His walk rates and strikeout rates are about average so he doesn't factor much when betting overs and unders, but he may get influenced by the home crowd in big situations.