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.
Walks are a big part of the game from an umpire's perspective, and often times, the more walks that are allowed, the fewer strikeouts that are allowed as well. Walks, especially early in innings, often cause explosions of runs to be put together too, and any time we see an umpire that has a lot of walks but not a lot of runs being scored, we ask ourselves why that is. Most of the time, the answer is just dumb luck. Today, we'll look at some of the umpires that are issuing the most walks this year and see whether their betting statistics match up with what we should be seeing.
With the average number of walks per game being right around 6.50, the difference of that extra one walk per game could be huge. The man that is averaging the most walks per game this year is Marvin Hudson. Hudson has called 15 games this year, and he is giving out 7.60 free passes per game. Not surprisingly, his strikeout total is low as well at 14.33 per game, and his runs per game total is high at 10.27. Here's what we question, though. 'Over' bettors are 9-6 in 15 starts for Hudson, and though that's a good ratio, his numbers when the 'total' is set at eight or lower is just 2-4. That's something that figures to correct itself as time goes by, and it is a trend to watch out for when you see Hudson's name calling balls and strikes.
Brian Knight is a far more interesting case, though. Knight has also umpired 15 games so far on the season, and he is only just ahead of Hudson in strikeouts at 15.80 per game and just behind him in walks at 7.47 free passes per game. The difference is a relatively healthy 0.60 runs per game as well. Knight is allowing 9.67 runs per game. Still, with all of those splits, it would seem that there should be a lot of 'over' games being called. Instead, the 'under' is actually making some money with Knight dressed as the head man in blue. He is 7-8 for 'over' bettors in his 15 games, and it is clear that if these splits for balls and strikes keep up, there is no way that can continue unless 'under' bettors are just going to continually get lucky.
We'll flip to the other side of the spectrum now and find Doug Eddings, who is issuing the fewest walks in baseball per game at 3.69. This is literally only about 60% of the league average, and you should be able to tell from his run production. An average of 7.31 runs per game is low, but it probably isn't as proportionately low as it should be with a walk total of less than four free passes per game. Eddings is surprisingly a relatively fair pitcher in terms of 'overs' and 'unders' with a record of 6-7 in his 13 goes at it. He is averaging a relatively high strike rate at 65.11%, yet his strikeout total is a tad low at 13.7 per game. Eddings is a weird case for sure, so going back to last season is probably a good idea. Last year, Eddings had a high strike percentage again at 64.7%, and his strikeouts were up just a bit, while his walks were up, but only to a modest 5.3 per game. The end result should be a lot more 'unders' than 'overs'. Over the course of the last two seasons though, the 'under' is only 23-21, and it probably should be a heck of a lot better than that. Keep that in mind when Eddings is behind the dish next.