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.
We always pay really close attention to close games with umpires, especially in regards to home teams. Jerry Layne, for example, has umpped six wins this year for home teams against just one loss, and the hosts are +$525 on the season in those games, easily the best mark in baseball. Layne has been particularly nice to home underdogs, who are 2-0 thus far this season as well. Don't think for one second that this is a sporadic happening, though. Dating back to 2010, Layne is one of the best umpires for home teams, and he had a tremendous 2010 for the hosts, leading them to a 23-9 mark with a profit of +$1,212 in his 32 games.
Probably the next best trend that we have seen this year thus far is the amount of runs per game in outings where Adrian Johnson has been behind the plate. Granted, he hasn't been the man in blue for any games between fantastic pitchers this year, but not only have his games gone beyond the 'total'. They have absolutely flown 'over' it as well. Johnson only has one game thus far this year with fewer than 10 runs scored, and he has issued at least 10 walks in three of his six outings. That narrow strike zone is killing pitchers who just don't have the consistency to keep the ball where it should be, and thus far this year Johnson is making teams pay. In his last four outings, Johnson has watched as an average of 15.5 runs per game have crossed the plate.
However, the man that has called the most 'over' games this year has been Angel Hernandez. Things have been close this year for this ump, and if the oddsmakers do shade their lines according to history, there is a good chance that Hernandez is going to ultimately end up seeing a few more 'unders' in the near future. He has had three games this year exceed the number by just a run (or a half run). Unlike with Johnson, who has an incredibly narrow strike zone thus far this season, Hernandez has averaged just 6.0 walks per game on the season against 13.5 strikeouts per game. In his most recent start, featuring Jarrod Parker and Ubaldo Jimenez, Hernandez rang up 22 strikeouts in a game that featured 10 runs.
The best profit this year for 'over' bettors goes to Alan Porter. Porter is a relatively young umpire, having umpped for just five years at the MLB level, and he has always been one of the top 'over' umps in the league. This year, he is a perfect 6-0 towards the 'over', averaging 10.17 runs per game in the process. Of course, he hasn't had a game this year in which the 'total' was higher than eight, and only in one of his six games was the number to reach more than 7 ½. Porter will have worse pitching matchups and better results for 'under' bettors in the near future, but don't be all that shocked when he is one of the top 'over' umpires in the league at the end of the season.