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.

Tier 1 Tier 2 Tier 3 Tier 4
Andrew Miller Josh Hader Hunter Strickland Joakim Soria
Addison Reed Brad Boxberger Kirby Yates Hector Rondon
Juan Nicasio Yusmeiro Petit Michael Lorenzen Ryan Buchter
Anthony Swarzak Scott Alexander Brandon Maurer Joe Smith
Ryan Madson Joe Kelly A.J. Minter Keynan Middleton
Sam Dyson Kyle Barraclough Dominic Leone Carson Smith
Carl Edwards Jr. Jacob Barnes Will Harris Liam Hendriks
Chris Devenski Bryan Shaw Darren O’Day Trevor Hildenberger
Matt Barnes Pat Neshek Cam Bedrosian Will Smith
Jose Ramirez Nick Vincent Steve Cishek Tyler Olson
David Robertson Keone Kela Josh Fields Andrew Kittredge
Chad Green Ryan Tepera Taylor Rogers Jake Diekman
Tyler Lyons Brandon Kintzler Seung-Hwan Oh Drew Steckenrider
Mychal Givens Craig Stammen Pedro Baez George Kontos
Dellin Betances Jake McGee Edubray Ramos Luis Garcia
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Bill Lumbergh
Bill Lumbergh
4 years ago

Smokey – great stuff as always. What bullpen guys should I look to for vulture wins?

hondo
hondo
4 years ago

What’s the plan for Bud Norris in STL?

Leon
Leon
4 years ago

keeper league: 19 teams. 7×7. avg/obp/slg ..hold/wins/ip etc.

we can keep up to 7 players. If you keep less, you get to draft in those missing keeper rds.

List of choices: A. Judge, M. Conforto, Byron Buxton, Carlos Correa, Adam Eaton, Betances, Snell, Bird, britton.

thinking, judge, forto, buxton, correa. I am not sure what to do with eaton, as he is very valabule in this sort of league with his %, and in a power offense at the the top of the lineup. He may only hit 10 hr and steal 12 sb though.

pdo
pdo
4 years ago

SOLDS league (1 category) and can choose to keep Brach or Peacock. Any preference?

Eric
Eric
4 years ago

Always look forward to Smokey’s bullpen reports..there aren’t any other fantasy baseball reads like it…thank you sir!

Rob
Rob
4 years ago

good shit man! RIP Jimmy Sherfy

Darek
Darek
4 years ago

I picked up Stecknerider after a little research this off season in a saves+holds league. Dominant in second half with a 14%+ K rate. A little wild, but seems like the underlying numbers are strong. What are your thoughts on him? You seem a little lower on him in this rankings.

Jack Johnson
Jack Johnson
4 years ago

Perhaps you can help with this…I need a rankings list of the best relievers that are also eligible to slot in the SP spot on ESPN. My league values set up men just as much as closers so I love to find guys I can plug in a SP slot. Examples of 2017. Devinski, Iglesias, and Chad Green. They were so valuable.

Help a brother out!

AL KOHOLIC
AL KOHOLIC
4 years ago

Thanks Smokey. Always enjoy your post

pdo
pdo
4 years ago

Thanks for your work. Love it. In a SOLDs league and I am trying to blend your two lists (closers and holds) into a priority list. So – looks like you have 5 Tiers of Savers and 4 Tiers of Holders. At what level of Savers would you put Tier 1 of Holders? in other words, you would take Holders in Tier 1 before you would take a Saver in Tier x … make sense?

Shitwolf
Shitwolf
Reply to  Smokey
4 years ago

@Smokey:

hey smokey!!! i am new to holds league this year and was wondering about strategy. is it worth it in a holds league to pay up for a miller or approx what round should you start drafting for holds? Also is there an ideal number of Rp? for example like 2 closers to holders? holders sounds slightly naughty no?

Jeff
Jeff
4 years ago

Carson Smith listed twice in tier 4

Snake Mountain
Snake Mountain
4 years ago

Are there any candidates for holds this year that have SP eligibility? (5 starts last year)

SF Pete
SF Pete
4 years ago

How bout Strop?? 20+ holds 5 out of last 6 years

Member Berries
Member Berries
4 years ago

Keep all League H2H 6×6 (walks and holds)

Blackmon for Acuna/Albies/C.Martinez

RASPer
RASPer
4 years ago

While each holds excellent ratios, Betances, Green, and Robertson have to share set up duties. Give me an 8th inning guy with no competition.

RASPer
RASPer
4 years ago

What do you think about Carson Smith usurping the 8th ahead of Kimbrel?

Geoff
Reply to  Smokey
4 years ago

@Smokey: Thornburg is back too

OaktownSteve
OaktownSteve
4 years ago

Heard today that the Yankees may be stretching Green out for the rotation.

RASPer
RASPer
Reply to  Smokey
4 years ago

@Smokey: sounds like a prime holds candidate that might be regaining SP eligibility. ;)

Nick
Nick
4 years ago

Smokey ^^
i usually take the Holder behind my Saver ,,,
backup strategy,,,

Keeper team:
I have Allen CLE, i used to snatch Shaw, but now it’s Andrew Miller !! Value is here !!
I have KJ LAD,,, but who is behind? with Tony Watson still on FA market,, Pedro Baez ? Scott Alexander??

Dynasty team
i have Knebel MIL : Jacob Barnes? Josh Hader could be interesting with SP future?
and Shane Greene DET : Alex Wilson ?

Nick

Chucky
Chucky
4 years ago

Play in a 6×6 with Saves AND Holds as sep cats. Could you furnish a list of the best RPs to grab, where ERA, WHIP and Ks are as important as Svs and Hlds?

Peacecoast
Peacecoast
4 years ago

I have Devenski and Nicasio as round 20 keepers on my team. And Betances in round 9. In a S+H league so I am not sure where they might go anyway. Thoughts?

Goose
4 years ago

FYI, Keone Kela in Tier 1 and 2

Grey
Admin
Reply to  Goose
4 years ago

Fixed

Peacecoast
Peacecoast
Reply to  Grey
4 years ago

@Grey: wtf u doing lurking in here

Grey
Admin
Reply to  Peacecoast
4 years ago

My b

Grey
Admin
Reply to  Smokey
4 years ago

Still no soap, apparently

Grey
Admin
Reply to  Smokey
4 years ago

My b again