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Umpire Stats: Handicapping Men Behind Home Plate

Seasoned baseball bettors spend countless hours studying player stats and team trends.

But while analysis of starting pitchers and bullpens, split stats, betting trends, and head-to-head records are vitally important to making money over the course of the long MLB schedule, one single factor can have game-changing implications for both a ball club and sports bettor – the man behind the plate calling balls and strikes.

Umpires can affect MLB betting

While it is an old adage in just about any team sport that on-field officials should not influence the outcome of a game, how a home plate umpire calls a game can have important implications for just about every type of MLB betting.

Given the abstract nature of the strike zone in baseball, it is no surprise that it will vary from game to game and umpire to umpire.

An umpire that defines a smaller strike zone will draw praise from hitters who gain an edge in duels with opposing pitchers, while a larger strike zone gives starters more room to play and possibly stymie big bats.

The numbers back this up. Back in the 2010 MLB season, 20 of baseball's 86 umpires who worked behind the plate called at least 55% games that played OVER the total. In other cases, home favorites have enjoyed great success when playing games called by certain umpires.

Studying Umpire Betting Logs

While such trends are by the umpire's design, they are worthy of study by avid baseball bettors. And a useful resource that sports bettors can use to track the performance of umpires is the OddsShark MLB Umpire Betting Logs.

Updated daily, this important tool tracks each umpire's appearance behind the plate, including the home team's record in games he has called, the overall money earned by the home team against the MLB moneyline in such games, the average number of strikeouts and walks called per game, and the average run total in called games.

If you see a trend in the way an umpire calls the game, take a closer look. If an umpire has an OVER or UNDER streak going, there’s a reason for it, and a reason to include the information in your handicapping approach.

The key is to remember that umpire stats are just another piece to the puzzle. Oddsmakers are also aware of the above trends, and take them into account when formulating moneylines and totals.

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