Every year in Major League Baseball, there are umpires who have either a lot of ‘overs’ when they’re behind home plate or a lot of ‘unders.’
When you have 70 or 80 guys calling games, there’s bound to be some outliers at both the top and the bottom. Usually it’s not statistically relevant, and there’s a good chance this isn’t either, but umpire Paul Emmel is on an ‘over’ stretch unlike any we’ve ever seen.
Emmel’s ‘over’ record in first 13 MLB seasons: 181-196
Emmel’s 2012 ‘over’ record: 19-1
At 19-1 (.950), Emmel has way more ‘overs’ than the next closest umpire, Sam Holbrook at 13-5 (.722).
Furthermore, Emmel is on pace to shatter the record since 1999 for highest ‘over’ percentage for any umpire in a full season. (Minimum of 25 games behind home plate.)
Gary Cederstrom in 2000 and C.B. Bucknor in 2003 both posted 23-7 (.767) ‘over’ records, but Emmel would only have to go better than 4-6 the rest of the way to beat that mark.
As this information becomes more and more public, you could make a decent case that the value will actually be on the ‘under’ going forward in Emmel’s games.
Is Emmel’s strike zone smaller now than it has been his first 13 seasons? Probably not.
This is definitely an interesting trend worth keeping in mind going forward, but notice that Emmel’s career ‘over’ record—over a much larger sample size—is now a tidy 200-197.