Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 13:58 PM
Hot & Not Report - Umpires
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Who's Hot and Who's Not
Week of July 22nd
Now that we are in the final full week of July, it's time to re-visit those MLB umpire trends again as we have the past two months. Another 30 or so days of data is always beneficial to be aware of as you go through the daily grind of handicapping the MLB board, and even in today's “juiced ball” era, of the 81 umpires that have been behind the dish at least 10 times this year, 45 of them have seen at least 50% of their games stay 'under' the respective total – ignoring the 50%'s there are 36 umps who've had more 'overs' than 'unders' and 33 umps who have more 'unders' than 'overs'.
But these pieces the past two months are more about the guys who are on the extreme ends of that spectrum (70% or more) and as expected, these lists continue to get shorter and shorter with each passing month. By the time the end of the regular season rolls around, most umps will probably fall somewhere between the 35% and 65% range when looking at either 'over' or 'under' percentages. That notion would suggest – as would the fact that these lists of 70% of greater do get shorter – that's it's probably better to look the other way when you find these guys behind the dish during the coming weeks, as actual totals and betting percentages from the market tend to take these things at face value and blindly follow 'under' umps to 'unders' and vice-versa.
So here is this month's list of guys to keep an eye on no matter how you decide to play it. With all the discussion of “juiced balls” and half the league on pace to set franchise records in HR's hit, totals continue to climb and implicit value in 'unders' might never be higher. Just another thing to consider.
Who's Hot – 70% or better to the 'Over' umpires
Alan Porter (13-3 O/U)
Jeff Kellogg (11-3 O/U)
Alfonso Marquez (12-4 O/U)
Carlos Torres (12-5 O/U)
Brian Knight (7-3 O/U)
This list is one name shorter compared to last month's list, and going from six guys down to five is significant. It's not the same five guys from a month ago as Mike Winters, Chad Whitson, and Tom Hallion have all seemingly expanded their strike zones a bit to drop down from the 70% club, as Whitson made the biggest move, going from 10-4 O/U in late June to 11-8 O/U now. That's a great example of what I was referring to earlier in that guys tend to regress to the mean as the year goes on, and with numbers potentially being a shade or two higher when these guys are umping – oddsmakers know this data as well – in a general sense it can pay to go the other way.
Yet, at the same time, the three holdovers from June's list – Alan Porter, Jeff Kellogg, and Carlos Torres have yet to regress much at all. However, all three of them haven't had nearly as many chances behind the plate in that time, as Porter's 1-1 O/U since last month, Kellogg is 1-0 O/U and Torres is 2-1 O/U. Not exactly a huge edge either way there, and there is even an argument to be made that a possible regression is coming for at least one of them.
Who's Not – 70% of better to the 'Under' umpires
Jerry Meals (4-13 O/U)
Andy Fletcher (4-11 O/U)
Joe West (5-13 O/U)
Kerwin Danley (4-10 O/U)
Gary Cederstrom (5-12 O/U)
This list has expanded in volume by one name since June's breakdown, as both Kerwin Danley and Gary Cederstrom are new additions to this side of the ledger. Danley is 0-2-1 O/U in three games behind the dish since the week of June 24th, while Cederstrom's a perfect 0-4 O/U in that same span. The latter actually sees more runs per game (8.1) then Danley does (7.4), but both totals are so low relative to the totals we see on a daily basis in the market that you can understand how they've done well to the 'under' during the past four weeks.
Meals, Fletcher and “Cowboy” Joe West continue to be guys that are very pitcher friendly and aren't scared to have a floating strike zone out there at times. But just like the holdovers from the 'over' list, these guys have relatively stayed at the mean during the past month, with all three of them going 2-2 O/U during the past month of action. Again, that's a great example of how some totals can be skewed a slice to one side or the other based on an umpire's season-long stats, but the further you get in a year it tends to come back towards the 50% mark. The two 'overs' that Fletcher had saw 13 and 16 runs scored respectively and he still only sees 7.7 runs per game on average. Early season numbers can skew things to such a degree that the context of a situation gets conveniently ignored.
As these next few weeks roll by, I would expect that August's update sees these lists either stay the same in terms of volume or shrink even further. There will still be situations where following these guys (taking 'unders' with the 'under' umps etc), there is likely more inherent value in looking the other way the further we get in the season.