The 2017 MLB season is just a few days away, and our goal at Sports Insights is to ensure that bettors have the best strategies for the upcoming year. We have recently profiled several profitable strategies including betting against the public and taking underdogs in divisional games with high totals, but there are many factors that should be considered before placing a wager.
Although bettors should never place a wager solely based on the home plate umpire, there are certain umps with pronounced tendencies that can occasionally be exploited by opportunistic bettors. As an example, umpires with tight strike zones are beneficial for over bettors, while umpires with large strike zones are beneficial for under bettors. Similarly, some umpires seemingly cave under pressure and give the benefit of the doubt to the home team.
For those who aren’t familiar, baseball utilizes a four-man umpire crew for every series. Typically the assignments aren’t announced until one or two hours before the first game of a new series, and officials will rotate clockwise for the subsequent game. That means that the second base umpire will work first base the following day and home plate the day after that. When the officials are announced prior to the start of a new series, lines will often move to account for the tendencies of the officiating crew.
The tables below, which utilize closing lines from Pinnacle, display the five most profitable active umpires for home teams, road teams, underdogs, favorites, overs and unders since the start of the 2005 season.
Best Home Umpires
Best Away Umpires
Best Underdog Umpires
Best Favorite Umpires
Best Over Umpires
Best Under Umpires
It’s interesting to see that Joe West has been the most profitable umpire for underdogs in our database. Over the past 12 seasons, underdogs have gone 204-205 with +58.65 units won when West is behind home plate. Also known as “Cowboy Joe,” West has an MLB record 39 years of experience and isn’t shy about making his presence known. Based on these numbers, West seems to level the playing field which logically has benefited the team getting plus money.
The majority of bettors have taken the over in 75.7% of games in our historical database, which has created contrarian value on the under. My research found that the under has gone 14,265-13,847 (50.7%) over the past 12 seasons, and Ron Kulpa has been the top under umpire over that stretch. Kulpa’s professional umpiring career began in 1992, and, unfortunately, our historical database doesn’t go back that far. However, the under has hit in 57.8% of games officiated by Kulpa since 2005.
Bettors can view the latest umpire assignments along with real-time odds, public betting trends, injuries and more by visiting our free MLB odds page. Interested in accessing our money percentages or our highly profitable Best Bet picks? Sign up for a 4-day trial of Sportsbook Insider Pro today!
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