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MLB Umpires – Who gives up the most runs?

April 28, 2010

In the first few weeks of the 2010 MLB season, there have been several baseball games that have ended with football scores. Last week, on a Washington Nationals broadcast, MASN color commentator Rob Dibble asked, I wonder if there are some umpires that are more likely to call games with football scores than others?” I went to the 2009 MLB Pitch F/X data to find the answer.

The quick answer is yes – the plate umpire tends to make a difference in the total number of runs scored per game. Excluding umpires who called fewer than 10 games, the total number of runs per game ranged from 7.3 to 13.3.

Umpires with lower scoring games include:

  • Jeff Kellogg   – 7.31 RGP – 36 games
  • Bill Hohn    - 7.70 RGP – 27 games
  • Jerry Layne – 7.74 RPG – 34 games

Umpires with higher scoring games include:

  • Mike Muchlinski – 13.27 RPG – 11 games
  • Tim Tschida          - 11.34 RPG – 32 games
  • Tim McClelland   – 11.25 RPG – 36 games

As you can see, that’s a huge disparity over the course of an entire season.

Here is the list of all Umpires in 2009:

Is there a difference between home and away runs scored?

I also looked at whether or not the home or away team typically scored more runs with an umpire.  In 2009, the average score for a home team was 4.68 runs. The average score for the away team was 4.45 runs.

In the chart below, the dashed orange lines mark the season average scores for the home and away teams. The dashed red line displays an even score 2-2, 3-3, etc. So, in 2009, visiting teams tended to score more than home teams for the umpires listed above the red line, home teams tended to score more than the away teams for umpires listed below the red line.

I listed by name umpires who averaged .75 more runs per game (either favoring the home or away team). These umpires are all displayed furthest from the red line. Umpires listed in red called fewer than 10 games.

Umpires with favorable visiting team differentials:

  • Kerwin Danley – 1.60 More Runs Per Game – 10 games
  • Tim Timmons   – 1.46 More Runs Per Game – 35 games
  • Paul Nauert       – 1.26 More Runs Per Game – 34 games

Umpires with favorable home team differentials:

  • Mike Muchlinski – 2.55 More Runs Per Game – 11 games
  • Adrian Johnson  - 2.09 More Runs Per Game – 35 games
  • Jerry Crawford     – 2.00 More Runs Per Game – 25 games

I have made the full list available on Google Docs here.

Looking at MLB’s data, it does appear that the total game score is somewhat impacted by the man behind the plate.

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