Dynasty Baseball

Hold Opportunities: Don’t Overlook Relievers (HODOR)

An Introduction to the Holds Stat

Personally speaking, I wasn’t even aware holds was a fantasy category until 2016.  To be honest, the stat seemed a little silly to me. First off, it’s an unofficial statistic measuring the effectiveness of non-closers.  Per MLB, “For those pitchers, their primary job is to not relinquish the lead, while getting the ball to the next reliever in line.”  If you have 5 minutes, it’s actually a pretty interesting page to mull over.  For example, did you know the all-time career leader is Arthur Rhodes (231), but that Joaquin Benoit (211) is nipping at his heels?  Neither did I.  Anyway, I digress from the historical and random trivia surrounding the hold.

Here’s everything you need to know about Holds in two tables:

Holds Stats 2015 – 2017, Min Qualified Innings

# Qualified P w/ at least 1 Hold Avg IP/season Avg HLD/season Avg K/9



112 62 12.8 8.7 3.67


117 64 12.8 9.1



147 63 12 9.37


Avg over 3 seasons 125 63 12.5 9.05



A couple of takeaways as we digest this information.  First, there was a significant increase in the number of pitchers who earned at least one hold last year.  Second, the average number of holds over the course of a season decreased.  Third, everything else was more or less static.

Holds Stats 2015 – 2017, Top 5 Leaders




Tony Watson

Addison Reed Taylor Rogers

Sergio Romo

Kyle Barraclough

Nick Vincent

Joe Smith Neftali Feliz

Andrew Miller

Justin Wilson Will Harris

Anthony Swarzak


A couple of things to mull over from this table.  First, holy crap, remember Joe Smith?  Joe Smith was a real-life ballplayer and Joe Smith was definitely someone who was good at baseball. I think.  More importantly – and perhaps the main takeaway from this preamble – do not under any circumstances invest in a holds reliever.  They change with whichever way the wind is blowing.  As I mentioned before, holds is kind of a dumb stat.  A fun stat, but a dumb stat.

That said, the rise of the elite reliever has been well-documented.  It’s going to be more pervasive with each year until the culture changes. Don’t blame me, blame Andrew Miller and Terry Francona.  Failed starters turned dominant relievers are a dime-a-dozen. It’s so en vogue that Robert Gsellman & Seth Lugo are the next Archie Bradley, who was the next Andrew Miller, who was the next Dellin Betances.

Because these relievers are going to be more pervasive in our fantasy game, it’s time to start thinking about how we can identify the next Robert Gsellman & Seth Lugo.  Perhaps it’s a fool’s errand to identify current failing starters who could be elite relievers.  We won’t be doing that.  Over the course of the season, we’ll be identifying HODOR’s in recognition of the article’s namesake.  Elite relievers we shouldn’t overlook receiving hold opportunities.

Before next week’s feature, where I’ll highlight a few relievers for your consideration, it would be wise to add or monitor the following names: Jose Alvarado, Craig Stammen, Addison Reed, Bryan Shaw, Adam Cimber, and Tayron Guerrero.  Heard of a majority of these guys?  Neither have most of your friends.  That’s good for you.

See you next week.


The Author

Adam Lawler

Adam Lawler


  1. John Vaghi
    April 20, 2018 at 3:03 pm

    Adam, im in a 7×7 (QS W K ERA WHIP Saves Holds/AVG OBP SLG R RBI HR SB) 12 team Dynasty. I just moved Todd Frazier for Hader. I’m thinking I did well until I read dont trade for holds. Is Hader one of those guys that it is ok to make a move for as he is so damn good, or did I make a mistake? My thinking is I just got a 23 year old andrew miller. Anyways, yes or no on this move.

    • April 21, 2018 at 12:33 pm

      John, I think Hader is special. We wrote him up in our Milwaukee Triple Play, so go check that out if you want my detailed thoughts on Hader.

      From a dynasty perspective, I think it’s an interesting idea to invest in that specific reliever (multi-inning dude with STUFF). Counsel has been tinkering with his role and might end up using him as a multi-inning closer which is very intriguing to me and kinda removes him from my qualifier. Suffice to say, trading Frazier for Hader isn’t bad in and of itself. I am more warning about the single inning pop up relievers like Swarzak, Kahnle, Jefferes types.

      • Ryan Madson
        April 21, 2018 at 2:23 pm

        One valuable thing in a holds league is that often these guys will morph to the closer role mid season and vice versa. Having holds in a league makes saves slightly less stupid, since your closer doesn’t lose all value if he is simply passed by a better reliever. Likewise those 2 or 3 times your holder gets a save doesn’t kill you, nor does the time or two your closer leaves early for whatever reason and manages to get a hold (a little more rare for sure). I’ve watched this transformation a bit as managers make minimal attempts to break out of the formulaic approach.

  2. Ryan Madson
    April 21, 2018 at 2:19 pm

    Completely disagree. Holds are only as dumb as saves or wins. So maybe they are all dumb, fine. But single out holds is just silly. How else to measure middle relief if you want it in fantasy? And don’t tell me middle relief isn’t valuable because obviously in the modern game it is. Disclaimer: I am in a holds league. I draft holds usually. And I have won my league an obscene number of years.

    • Ryan Madson
      April 21, 2018 at 2:26 pm

      One last comment. If you have holds in your league you will suddenly notice for the first time something resembling a real life team. Its not just a couple starters and a couple closers anymore but a full contingent of pitchers. Something much like 5-6 starters and 6-7 relievers.

  3. Slothrop
    April 26, 2018 at 4:48 pm

    Oh yer just salty because without holds you’d be irrelevant Ryan.

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