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.
Last week, we took a look at some of the best 'over' umpires in the game, and now, we're going to look at some of the best 'under' umps of the bunch.
Jim Wolf has been a winning 'over' umpire over the course of the last four seasons, but this year, he has clearly favored some lower scoring games. He is 5-1 for 'under' bettors, and he is only averaging seeing 5.83 runs per game hit the board. Starters are remarkably only combining to allow 3.50 runs per game in his outings, which is tremendously below the league average. Wolf is calling nearly 64% of his pitches as strikes, and he is ringing up over 15 batters per game.
The man that is allowing the fewest runs per game this year is Ron Kulpa, a man that we will probably be doing a heck of a lot of talking about in the near future. Kulpa has only managed to put 5.57runs per game on the board, and he is calling 64.4% of his pitches for strikes. He is averaging just over 14 strikeouts per game, and the 2.48 K/BB ratio that he is averaging is right on par with what we have come to expect out of umpires nowadays. Kulpa is a man who only went 9-22 for over bettors last season, so this is a trend that you should most certainly be watching out for the rest of this season. These 'under' games very well could continue.
This week, we're also going to take a look at Scott Barry, who is an umpire with a rare happening in his games. He is averaging seeing 12.12 runs per game hit the board, but 7.0 of those runs per game are coming from road teams. Interestingly enough, he is 3-5 for home teams in his eight games called this year, and he has led the favored team to a 7-1 record in those outings. Not surprisingly, the 'over' is 6-2 in Barry's eight games behind the dish, but those two losses were games in which his 'totals' to beat were 9 ½ and 10 ½.
Dana DeMuth was an umpired that called it right down the middle last season. He was within a unit of making home teams winners last season, and he had basically the same number of 'overs' as 'unders'. This year though, in his four starts, he has had some eye-popping numbers. He is averaging ringing up 16.2 batters per game, which is great for 'unders', but he is also allowing 7.5 walks per game, insanely high and good for 'overs'. Home teams are split this year at 2-2, and the end result is just 5.50 runs per game. If DeMuth returns to being a relatively average umpire as we expect, those strikeout numbers will come down, and there will be a real possibility that there will be more 'over' games on the horizon. Keep this one in mind for sure as the rest of the season wears on, though DeMuth only has half the games umped thus far this year as the rest of the full-time umpires.