MLB Playoff Umpires | Betting Trends for Wild Card Round

MLB Playoff Umpires | Betting Trends for Wild Card Round article feature image

Harry How/Getty Images. Pictured: Nick Castellanos speaks to umpire Lance Barksdale.

One of the most underrated aspects of handicapping baseball is how to project for umpires.

Yes, the possibility for human error exists in all sports, even with the implementation of instant replay, and umpires are more than capable of expanding or shrinking their strike zones at particular moments.

Tracking umpire statistics is nothing new, of course, but over at BetLabs, we specifically track how umpires perform against totals. Specifically: which umpires see their games go over and under the game's listed total most frequently?

Our data goes back through the 2023 season, so with the playoffs now here, I decided to take a look at which umpires are more likely to be behind the plate for an over or an under in this week's Wild Card Round matchups.

Below, you'll find each home plate umpire for all three games in all four matchups as well as 2023 and career trends from those specific umpires.

All data is via BetLabs, which you can subscribe to here.

Odds are via FanDuel and as of Monday afternoon.

Blue Jays vs. Twins

Game 1 Total: 7.5 (over -115 / under -105)

All three umpires in this series finished with a negative ROI (return on investment) to the under in 2023. But interestingly, all have a positive figure for their careers.

Game 2 umpire Adam Hamari was the most neutral umpire of the three, as he actually returned a negative ROI to both the over and under this season.

Game 1 umpire Andy Fletcher's numbers in 2023 are in stark contrast to his career. While he was profitable to the over this season, his career stats still show him as vastly more profitable to the under than the over.

Similarly, Game 3 umpire Mike Muchlinski's 2023/career splits are opposite one another.

Do you trust the recent trends or bank on the career performance?

Rangers vs. Rays

Game 1 Total: 7.5 (over -110 / under -110)

Games 1 and 2 couldn't see two more different umpires based on the trends. Carlos Torres was 11-14-1 to the under in 26 games behind the plate this season, while bettors turned a solid profit when betting overs on his games.

Tripp Gibson, on the other hand, had pretty neutral career trends entering 2023 but wound up 16-9-1 to the under in 2023. The sample is relatively small compared to other officials, but a $100 bettor to the under in every Gibson game netted $564 across a full season.

Game 3 umpire Lance Barksdale is one of the most seasoned umpires to get a home plate assignment in the Wild Card Round. He's long been known by bettors to be an under-friendly umpire, but he toed the line in 2023, finishing 16-15-1 to the under and failing to turn a profit for any bettor.

For his career, Barksdale is 290-243-27 to the under. That 5.4% ROI would net bettors $3,019 in more than 500 games behind the plate.

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Diamondbacks vs. Brewers

Game 1 Total: 7.5 (over -115 / under -105)

Among umpires with a Wild Card Round home plate assignment, Game 2 umpire Dan Bellino was the least-profitable umpire to the under in 2023. In 34 games behind the plate, unders went 13-21. Among all umpires who were behind the plate at least 30 times this season, it was the fifth-worst mark in baseball.

Game 1 umpire Mark Ripperger was slightly profitable to the under in 2023, while Game 3 umpire Alan Porter was slightly profitable to the over.

Bellino's Game 2 starting pitchers will likely be Brandon Woodruff (or Freddy Peralta) and Zac Gallen, so expect a low total and an opportunity to potentially pounce.

Marlins vs. Phillies

Game 1 Total: 7.5 (over -114 / under -106)

This series, on paper, is an under bettor's dream. All three of Stu Scheurwater, Doug Eddings and James Hoye were profitable to under bettors in 2023. The best of the bunch was Eddings, who has earned bettors $2,119 on $100 wagers to the under in more than 500 career games.

Scheurwater and Hoye are two of the lesser-experienced umpires behind home plate in the Wild Card Round, but the trends, regardless, favor the unders across the board.

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