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.
The interesting trend that we are going to be cluing into this week is the home runs allowed. This is one stat that has proven over the years has very little rhyme or reason to it, but in the end, it tends to really skew games for umpires. Scott Barry has watched as a whopping 2.64 home runs per game have been hit on his watch. That's almost a half of a home run higher than the league average, and it is really contributing to the fact that he has called eight 'over' contests as opposed to two 'under' clashes in his 11 starts (one push) behind the dish this year. Barry has averaged 11.2 runs per game to hit the board. Yes, his strike percentage is a bit low at 62.7 percent, but last season, his strike percentage was 64.54 percent. The 'under' might be the word for Barry if you can back it over the course of the next several weeks, because this really does seem to be more of a matter of luck than umpiring abilities for Barry.
On the flip side of that, someone like Hunter Wendelstedt has an over/under record that is most certainly believable at 8-2. No man who has umpped more than five games this year has a higher runs per game average on the season than Wendelstedt, who is sitting at 11.70. He is averaging seeing over seven runs per game issued by starters and a whopping 4.50 runs per game issued by bullpens. Though we know that those stats aren't going to continue to rear their ugly head, we do see this string of 'overs' continuing. Wendelstedt doesn't historically have a very high called strike ratio, as he is under 64% for his career, and he has posted a slew of great years for 'over' bettors as well, including in 2011 when he went 18-10-2 towards the 'over'.
Down at the bottom of the table, Jim Wolf has the best 'under' record in the league for umpires that have been calling balls and strikes for at least six games. He is averaging just 5.83 runs per game in his starts, and he is 5-1 towards the 'under'. However, the gopher ball hasn't gotten the best of him yet. Wolf has only seen six home runs leave the building in games which he has umpired, and that isn't going to remain the case when push comes to shove. With just another 0.6 or so home runs per game, that average run total per game would spike to near seven, and that would certainly regulate that we see out of his games. Wolf is becoming a surefire 'over' umpire in the near future as we see it.
Keep an eye as well on Jim Joyce. Joyce has been especially good to bullpens, allowing just 1.82 runs per game to be scored off of pens in games that he is umpiring. He also only sees 1.37 home runs per game, which is well off of the average of around 1.80 or so per game. Joyce is ringing up 14 batters per game as well, and that number isn't high enough to warrant him having a 3-7 record for 'total' bettors. Be aware as well, that Joyce has only umpired one game this entire season with a 'total' of more than eight, and obviously, that isn't going to stay the case either. There could most certainly be more 'over' games coming on the docket for Joyce as well.