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Odds and Ends

How to handicap MLB umpire betting stats

by Covers.com
Updated On: April 8, 2020, 4:56 pm ET

One of the best kept secrets among sharp baseball bettors is using MLB home plate umpire stats when researching their daily wagers. And Covers is one of the few outlets to find these certain stats – especially as they pertain to the MLB betting odds.

Every umpire is different. Some have a large strike zone, benefiting pitchers and Under bettors, while others have a small strike zone, which helps hitters and Over bettors. Some give the home team the benefit of the doubt and others are not rattled by their surroundings.

Umpire crews are announced before the start of a series and follow a standard rotation from game-to-game, moving clockwise. That means that if an umpire is behind home plate in Game 1 of a series, they will be at third base the following night and the first base ump from Game 1 will take over calling the balls and strikes in Game 2.

Here are some simple steps to take when factoring umpire stats into your baseball bets:

Over/Under umps

The one MLB wager that utilizes umpire stats the most is betting baseball totals. You can find how a team is playing offensively as well as how the starting pitcher is performing in recent efforts, and should weigh those factor against the umpire calling the balls and strikes.

During the course of the MLB season, Covers tracks the Over/Under results for each game as well as for each home plate umpire. You can simply go to our MLB umpire stats and find which umpires call more Over winners and which ones are involved with more Under winners.

Factoring those umpires with a particular lean to the Over or Under, along with the teams’ current form and starting pitchers, should give you a good idea of which side of the MLB total you want to wager on.

Matching umps and pitchers

As mentioned above, some umpires have a liberal strike zone while others call the game much tighter. Recognizing how a home plate ump calls the balls and strikes can give you a huge edge when capping starting pitchers and Over/Under totals.

For example, if an umpire is known for having a big strike zone and is calling a game with an accurate pitcher, who likes to paint the corners, then there is a good chance the pitcher – and their team - will excel given those added inches.

This also gives value to the Under, as the pitcher will strike out more batters than walk, putting less men on base and therefor allowing fewer runs than normal.

However, if you have a command-based pitcher on the mound and an umpire with a stingy strike zone behind home plate, that pitcher could struggle to get Ks as they attempt to nibble the corners of the strike zone.

That quickly translates to more balls than strikes and can often force a starter to throw pitches they wouldn’t normally make – just to appease the umpire – and change their approach to each hitter as they find themselves walking more batters than normal. This opens value to play against those pitchers as well as the Over, with more men getting on base due to elevated walks and just seeing more pitches in general.

Home/Away and team trends

While MLB umpires are supposed to be neutral when it comes to home and away teams, there are some umpires who side with the host teams more than the visitors. There may be a subconscious factor at play with these types of umpires, who feel like they need to appease the home crowds. However, there is a flip side to those trends, as road teams have prevailed more often with certain umpires behind home plate.

Along with these Home/Away and Over/Under records, Covers generates unique umpire trends for each and every MLB game on the schedule. Throughout the course of a 162-game baseball season, betting trends will develop between home plate umpires and MLB clubs and their starting pitchers, giving leans toward certain sides and totals.

These unique betting trends can be found in Covers’ MLB matchup pages and on our MLB umpire page where we have the complete list of each umpire's individual in-depth stats and game results.