Umpires are virtually ignored when setting the betting lines in baseball, so knowing the tendencies of the umps can give you an added edge in betting baseball.

Being a long term winner in baseball is never easy, and any edge you can get should be taken full advantage of. One often overlooked factor when handicapping ball games is the home plate umpire.

MLB Baseball BettingMost casual fans only pay attention to umpires when they make news, and it is usually in a negative way such as when Jim Joyce cost Armando Galarraga a perfect game this season. However, a lot can be gained by getting to know the tendencies of home plate umpires, as many umps do influence outcomes and they are in all likelihood not accounted for when setting the betting odds, therein giving the umpire experts an added edge.

Now aside from their influence on totals due to the size of their strike zones, quite a few umpires have a high percentage of the home team winning when they work the plate. Now we are in no way insinuating that these games are fixed in any manner, but let us just say that some umpires like to keep the home folks happy. Ladies and gentlemen, let us introduce you to Todd Tichenor!

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Who, you may ask? Well, the answer lies in the year-to-date umpire records below for games through June 22, 2010.

Top Homer Umpires (through June 22, 2010)

Rank Umpire Home W Home L Home%
 1 Todd Tichenor     15      0 100.0%
 2 Tim McClelland
    14      2  87.5%
 3 Bill Miller     13      3  81.3%
 4 Ted Barrett     11      3  78.6%
 5 Jerry Layne     10      3  76.9%
 6 Greg Gibson     12      4  75.0%
 7 Joe West     12      4  75.0%
 8 Mark Wegner     10      4  71.4%


No, that is not a typo. Tichenor has worked behind home plate 15 times this season, and the home team has won every single time. Tim McClelland has been another gold mine for home teams with his 14-2 mark and the rest of the list above rounds out the eight Major League umpires that have worked home plate at least 10 times and have seen the home team win over 70 percent of the time.

On the other hand, there are only two umpires that have worked at least 10 games at home and that have seen the road team win more than 70 percent, with Ed Rapuano being the more notorious of the two.

Roadie Umpires (through June 22, 2010)
Rank Umpire Home W Home L Road%
 1 Ed Rapuano      3     11  78.6%
 2 Jerry Crawford      3      8  72.7%

'Measuring the tendencies or metrics of umpires is no different than trying to handicap teams or players," explains Robert Fairchild, a gaming professional with ATHbaseball.com. "Making any conclusions without enough data causes the data to be statically irrelevant and leads to just as many anomalies as it does actionable trends.”

We now shift out focus to totals, where an extra tight or ultra liberal strike zone can have a direct impact on posted totals. Umpires with very tight strike zones obviously favor the ‘over’, as these umps either call a lot of walks or force the pitchers to groove pitches, with both of these occurrences meaning more offense.

Angel Hernandez and Tim Welke have both been ‘over’ bettors’ dreams this year, as games with either of these two working the plate have averaged double-digits in runs scored. Here are the top five ‘over’ umpires thus far.

Top ‘Over” Umpires (through June 22, 2010)
Rank Umpire Over Under Over% RPG
 1 Angel Hernandez  11   3  76.6%  10.3
 2 Tim Welke  10   3  76.9%  11.1
 3 Mark Wegner   9   4  69.2%   9.1
 4 Angel Campos   9   4  69.2%   9.8
 5 Larry Vanover   8   4  66.7%  10.4

On the other hand, umps which are more liberal with the zone and give pitchers pitches that may be just off the corners are great ‘under’ bets, as it forces batters to expand the zone and swing at pitches they would not normally swing at. Bettors that like to bet ‘unders’ must love Jim Wolf, as games that he works at home plate are averaging just 6.3 runs combined.

There are currently six umpires that have worked the plate at least 10 times and have seen their games average less than eight runs combined.

Top ‘Under” Umpires (through June 22, 2010)
Rank Umpire Over Under Under% RPG
 1 Bob Davidson   3  11  78.6%   7.7
 2 Jim Wolf   3  11  78.6%   6.3
 3 Mike Estabrook   4  10  71.4%   6.9
 4 Dan Iassogna   4  10  71.4%   7.6
 5 Greg Gibson   4   9  69.2%   7.6
 6 James Hoye   4   8  66.7%   7.6


Finally, in the event that you do not know who the home plate umpire will be, remember that the umps rotate clockwise during a series, meaning that whoever the first base umpire was the previous game will work behind the plate the next game of the same series.