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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
   
  1. Goose

    Goose says:
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    FYI, Keone Kela in Tier 1 and 2

      • Peacecoast says:
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        @Grey: wtf u doing lurking in here

          • Smokey

            Smokey says:
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            @Grey: great I’m being monitored. Good thing I showered today.

            • Grey

              Grey says:
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              Still no soap, apparently

              • Smokey

                Smokey says:
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                @Grey: whoa whoa. No one told me to use soap.

                • Grey

                  Grey says:
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                  My b again

    • Smokey

      Smokey says:
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      @Goose: maybe I like him twice!?! Sorry bout that.

  2. Peacecoast says:
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    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?

    • Smokey

      Smokey says:
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      @Peacecoast: Nicasio is a definite. Devenski won’t be as great as he was last year but still quality. Both worth 20 rounders just a tough one to swallow keeping both holds only guys. Me, I would hold Nicasio and fill in my roster elsewhere with most likely better relievers

  3. Chucky says:
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    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?

    • Smokey

      Smokey says:
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      @Chucky: take my top reliever post and use tier one and two as the other guide. K/9 are factored into the towering system and the top 64 RP I ranked all have projections. Some guys doubled up.

  4. Nick says:
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    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

    • Smokey

      Smokey says:
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      @Nick: that’s usually my strategy. Idk about Value for draft dollar for miller. Dodgers pen is ugly but always seem to manage. I have it Alexander, Fields and Baez. Yes on Barnes and Hader def has super value but is a helium name on draft day. I think because of the hair. Detroit is bad Wilson or Verhagen

  5. OaktownSteve says:
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    Heard today that the Yankees may be stretching Green out for the rotation.

    • Smokey

      Smokey says:
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      @OaktownSteve: prepping him that way. And I don’t think he makes more than a handful of starts. I’d say under 8. But it helps his value in no holds leagues deflates it a bit in holds leagues. I had him making a few starts in mind when I created this list. He’s really talented though and a great commodity.

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

  6. RASPer says:
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    What do you think about Carson Smith usurping the 8th ahead of Kimbrel?

    • Smokey

      Smokey says:
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      @RASPer: it’s completely viable but even then I still think Barnes and Kelly are good holds targets. Healthy spring changes Smiths value and I am squaring his name away in most last round picks in some leagues.

      • Ralph Lifshitz

        Ralph Lifshitz says:
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        @Smokey: Thornburg is back too

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

    • Smokey

      Smokey says:
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      @RASPer: Madson is the clear 8th in Washington. And not much close to him besides Kintzler.

  8. Member Berries says:
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    Keep all League H2H 6×6 (walks and holds)

    Blackmon for Acuna/Albies/C.Martinez

  9. SF Pete says:
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    How bout Strop?? 20+ holds 5 out of last 6 years

    • Smokey

      Smokey says:
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      @SF Pete: totally a viable option to be a tier 3 guy. But with Carl’s Jr., Cishek and Justin Wilson will have more competition for high leverage situations.

  10. Snake Mountain says:
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    Are there any candidates for holds this year that have SP eligibility? (5 starts last year)

    • Smokey

      Smokey says:
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      @Snake Mountain: Biagini, Erasmo Ramirez, Mark Leiter, Peacock, joe Musgrove

  11. Jeff says:
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    Carson Smith listed twice in tier 4

    • Smokey

      Smokey says:
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      @Jeff: too many Smiths in tier 4. Should be Will Smith. But thanks for the heads up

  12. pdo says:
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    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?

    • Smokey

      Smokey says:
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      @pdo: holds guys. Like valuable holds guys will be drafted around or right after top 15 closers. The elite K guys that offer holds a little before that. But that list is limited to only a few, Miller

      • Shitwolf says:
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        @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?

        • Smokey

          Smokey says:
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          @Shitwolf: I draft closers as I normally would and pair them up with the top holds guy from their team. Draft usually dictates flow of holds guys but you can usually wait til later in draft. Once the top 15-18th closer is off the board that’s when I would start pulling guys from your closers team or from tier 1. 2-3 closers, 2-3 holds guys. Depending on roster slots available for RP or straight P

  13. AL KOHOLIC says:
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    Thanks Smokey. Always enjoy your post

    • Smokey

      Smokey says:
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      @AL KOHOLIC: thanks Al. Good to see ya or type to ya anyways.

  14. Jack Johnson says:
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    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!

    • Smokey

      Smokey says:
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      @Jack Johnson:
      Peacock
      Clevinger
      Musgrove
      Mike Montgomery
      Junior Guerra
      Jeff Hoffmann
      Joe Biagini
      Rafael Montero

      All should be straight bullpen guys to start the year and I think ESPN does 5 start/ 8 relief so at least it’s a good starter list for ya.

  15. Darek says:
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    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.

    • Smokey

      Smokey says:
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      @Darek: I’m down on him only from the accumulation stand point. And I can see him getting a look at closer later in year. Marlins are the problem not Steckenrider on the storm.

  16. Rob says:
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    good shit man! RIP Jimmy Sherfy

    • Smokey

      Smokey says:
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      @Rob: gone but still there… sorta

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

    • Smokey

      Smokey says:
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      @Eric: word thanks E

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

    • Smokey

      Smokey says:
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      @pdo: give me the cock.

  19. Leon says:
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    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.

    • Smokey

      Smokey says:
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      @Leon: Eaton is a keeper based on what you are showing me. Snell and Bird would be my last two kept.

  20. hondo says:
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    What’s the plan for Bud Norris in STL?

    • Smokey

      Smokey says:
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      @hondo: i read he was looking to start, but the look of the Cards pen seems like there is an opportunity for all or none.

  21. Bill Lumbergh says:
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    Smokey – great stuff as always. What bullpen guys should I look to for vulture wins?

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