MLB Handicapping: 'Homer' Umpires
by Aaron Smith - 4/14/2010
Sports fans often call an official that slants the calls towards the home team a ‘homer’. This phenomenon doesn’t just start in the big leagues. Rather, this can be seen at all levels of sport, even in local leagues for youngsters.
In this case, we are looking at Major League Baseball and the home plate umpires who call the games. Are these umpires really favoring the home team or is this just a case of matchups and home field advantage proving the difference? That is an argument for another day, but the truth is a sports bettor needs to look at every single angle that might give them an edge. After seeing some of these amazing home-and-away splits, I think you will agree these statistics can help you gain the upper hand.
Here is a closer look at seven of the biggest ‘homer’ umpires according to the data.
- Wally Bell- Bell has been an absolute machine for the home team from 2005 all the way through 2009. Total up every game from 2005 to 2009 and you’ll see that the home team has won 114 games, and the away team just 60 games. In 2009, the home team won 24 games, and the away team was victor 11 times.
- Angel Hernandez- In the last three years, the home team has won 72 times compared to just 32 times for the away team. The home team more than doubling up the road team is pretty drastic for a three-year period. The only reason Hernandez is on the second notch is he doesn’t have quite the same long-term trend toward home teams as does Bell.
- Gary Cederstrom- Cederstrom won the prize for being the biggest homer in all of 2009; as the home team won 24 games and the away team just seven. If you total up the games he has umpired in from 2006 through 2009, the home team is 84-47.
- Mike Everitt- The home team has been winning in a big way over the last three years when Everitt is behind home plate. The home team has won 68 times over that time span, while the visitors have won just 34 games.
- Ron Kulpa- Kulpa didn’t call as many games as most of the umpires on this last season. Even with last year being a slow one, the last four seasons the home team is 78-45 in games where he is behind home plate.
- C.B. Bucknor- Bucknor is an interesting example, because he doesn’t have eye-popping numbers in any single season, but he has consistently leaned toward the home team. In 2009, the home team was 20-12. In 2008, the home team was 21-12. The statistics are similar almost every year for Bucknor.
- Ted Barrett- Barrett hasn’t been consistent the way Bucknor has, but the home statistics over the long run are quite strong. Despite a year of 14 wins for the home team, and 20 for the away team in 2007, the overall record for the last four seasons is 83-53 for the home team.
Understand that the home field advantage is certainly factored in by the oddsmakers. Even though that is the case, umpires like those listed above still give the bettor a chance to profit on a home team based on this extensive data. Records like 114 for the home team and 60 for the road team over the last five full seasons aren’t a fluke, and you’d be wise to pay attention to these statistics. I don’t suggest blindly betting on the home team when you see these umpires names pop up behind the dish, but I do suggest you be careful fighting these strong trends. Pay attention to who is behind the plate before you make your next wager!
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