The most important thing in fantasy baseball relief-dom in terms of holds is consistency. Without consistency of opportunities, of placement in the bullpen, and a team’s consistent success in utilizing their bullpen to your fantasy advantage… you get left out out in the cold when it comes down to accumulating a stout holds based relief pitching corps. Until there is a shift in the utilization of bullpens for the benefit of fantasy, more so, the leagues that use the hold stat. I will admit that I am more of an eye test person than a numbers guy. Numbers scare me. They prove too many things that don’t factor in the human error factor and the good ole eye test. So against my better mental state, I used numbers from the past five years to show that the bullpens are being used more frequently. Not just by some teams, but by all teams. I know, duh. This is something that we all eyed to be happening than Smokey goes in the opposite direction like a dyslexic salmon and gets some data to prove the incline of a stat that he holds so near and dear to his fantasy bear heart. Well sit back, relax, it’s going to be a fun ride on the holds bus this week as we do some research and than put the top-50 relief pitchers into hold tiers. Enjoy!
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Over the last five years I went back and ran all the bullpen usage data. Innings pitched are up. Multiple innings pitched are up. Save situations are way up, and Holds are correlative to that. The “consistency” part of baseball from the bullpen is derived in the core stat that since 2010 the saves compared to team victory per year is right at 51% for all of baseball’s 30 teams. The other part of save consistency is that the conversion rate of saves over that same period never fluctuates below 68% and never above 70%. So two-thirds of the time bullpens get it right… every time. That is all well and good but now onto holds. The hold rate has increased by as much as 4% in each of the last two years, with 2012 being the outlier as a down year from the year prior. So with increase of 4%, three-out-of-the-last-five years, the holds stat is here to make a statement of usefulness. Regardless of the haters. Team success is the hugest driving factor to cumulative save situations. Save situations are just that, a save situation minus the save but plus the hold. Teams that win more usually have more save situations. Teams that also score more runs are at the advantage of having more save situations, usually. So when going into your draft keep three factors in your head: team success and run scored, bullpen pattern of usage and counting stats like K/9. Add those three things together and you got a fine holds gumbo.
Enjoy some Holds tiers. Tiers are broken down into four groups, order in that group is a preferential type thing. As always if you see something say something, I live for all things bullpens.