One of my favorite, most underrated statistics in baseball, is the hold. I run a fantasy league every year, and Holds are always a statistic that I add to the league. I feel it give some validation to a middle reliever and counts accomplishments the way wins do for a pitcher or saves for a closer. Middle relievers aren’t usually factors in decisions, unless they blow it or the offense just happens to come alive while they are pitching. As a result the W-L record of a reliever isn’t really an important bit of information to have.
That’s why the hold is great. It’s a middle relievers save. The hold is a relatively young statistic, maybe 9 years or so, but I think it’s definition could use a little revamping.
A hold is currently defined the same way a save is, except that the pitcher does not finish the game, and that your team does in fact win. A pitcher must record at least 1 out to get a hold.
1) Enter’s the game with a 3 run lead or less, leaves game with lead.
2) Enter’s game with tying run in the on deck circle, leaves game with lead.
3) Pitches 3 innings, regardless of lead, leaves game with lead.
I think that there should be a 4th condition in which a hold may be earned. Tie games. Last night the Phillies and Mets went 12 innings before the Mets eventually won it. I think there were 6 pitchers that did their job to the quality that I expect when I think a reliever should be getting a hold.
JC Romero, Brad Lidge, and Rudy Seanez pitched the 8th, 9th, and 10th innings respectively for the Phillies. Each pitcher pitched 1 full inning and allowed zero runs.
Billy Wagner, Joe Smith, and Scott Schoeneweis pitched the 9th, 10th and 11th innings respectively for the Mets. Each pitcher pitched and inning or more (1.0, 1.1, and 1.1 IP), and allowed zero runs.
None of these pitchers factored in the decision, as it was a tie game when they entered, and when they left. I feel that they should be awarded a hold for this performance. My proposal for the 4th condition on a hold is…
4) A reliever enters the game with a tie score, and does not allow any runs (inherited or not). The pitcher records at least one out and leaves the game still tied. The pitcher may not be involved in the decision for this hold to count.
This would increase the frequency of holds a little bit, but in the essence of what I think a hold should be, I don’t think it needs to be defined strictly by the constraints of what a save is. Those 6 pitchers each held the game in the state it was in and gave their team a chance to win. They should be credited for it.