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Does the Wild Card game umpire help the Yankees?

It’s October, and it’s time for the Wild Card game. MLB announced the umpires for the Wild Card games and the Division Series’. Here’s how the crew will look like for Wednesday night’s clash in the Bronx:

HP Jim Wolf
1B Greg Gibson
2B Gerry Davis (crew chief)
3B Alan Porter
LF Will Little
RF Pat Hoberg

Luis Severino will be starting for the Yankees with Liam Hendriks serving as the opener for the Athletics. Here’s a quick look into how each has fared in their career with Jim Wolf behind the plate.

SEVERINO 6.0 4.50 8 2 6
HENRDRICKS 9.0 0.00 7 2 7

Jim Wolf has been the home plate umpire in 320 Major League games in his career. There are some stats that look into how different metrics are affected when an umpire is behind the plate.

For example, Wolf has a K boost of 1.12, which means that when he is the home plate ump, there are 12 percent more strikeouts than average. He has a BB boost of 0.93, meaning that he calls fewer walks than average. His R boost is 0.98, his BA boost is 0.99, his OBP boost is 0.98, and his SLG boost is 0.99. These are all pretty much average.

From those boost stats, it can be seen that Wolf tends to call more strikeouts and fewer walks. This would lead one to believe that he usually has a bigger strike zone than most.

This could definitely help Severino, a power strikeout pitcher. He has 10.3 K/9, while Hendricks has 8.3 K/9. Of course, both teams would want the umpire to be consistent, but the Yankees have some hitters who will work the count and draw walks. Aaron Hicks has the fifth-highest walk rate in the league among qualifiers at 15.5 percent. Aaron Judge slots in right behind him at 15.3 percent, even though he is not among the qualifiers.

So while the umpire is not too likely to be a huge influence on the game, the eye test shows the situation being beneficial for the Yankees.