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The Hold in Baseball: A Closer Look at Its Purpose and Importance

The Hold in Baseball: Understanding Its Purpose and Limitations

Baseball has always been a game of statistics, with its many scorecards, performance metrics, and statistical tools. One such tool is the Hold, a term primarily associated with relief pitcher performance, but often misunderstood by both novices and seasoned fans alike.

In this article, we’ll dive deep into Hold’s definition, purpose, and role in baseball. We’ll also examine its origin, limitations, and why it is an important (yet unofficial) measurement tool in modern baseball.

Definition of a Hold

A Hold occurs after a relief pitcher enters the game in a save situation, records at least one out, and leaves without surrendering the lead. As such, the Hold is a merit-based statistic that recognizes the performance of a team’s relief pitchers, even though they might not be the closing pitcher.

The statistic, however, is entirely credited to the relief pitcher’s merit, not the closing pitcher.

Purpose of a Hold

The Hold is used to evaluate a relief pitcher’s performance, particularly in situations where they preserve or sustain their team’s lead. It is a measurement tool that equally values all relief pitchers by accurately reflecting their ability to hold off a team’s opponent, even if it is not the closer.

The Hold also provides a comparison opportunity to different relief pitchers, providing valuable performance metrics to team management, resulting in better decision-making.

Role of a Closer

One point of confusion for many baseball enthusiasts is the difference between a Hold and a Save, often involving the designated Closers of a team’s bullpen. A Closer typically enters the game in the ninth inning of a Save situation, tasked with securing the final out of the game.

The Hold stat, however, recognizes the achievements of a pitching performance in the late-inning stages that precede the final out, rendering its value in team lead-sustaining performances.

Conditions for Earning a Hold

A Hold is earned by a relief pitcher who steps into a Save situation, records at least one out, and sustains a lead that the team holds. For the relief pitcher to earn a Hold, the score must be such that had the pitcher not done what they did, another pitcher coming in would face a save situation.

The Hold stat is unique in that, unlike other stats, does not accumulate over time, but recorded only for games where there is a Save situation.

Origin of the Hold

The Hold stat was first coined by John Dewan and Mike O’Donnell as an unofficial scoring tool that put emphasis on a relief pitcher’s ability to pitch with the team already ahead, as opposed to the save and win stats that only rewarded the last pitcher. The Hold was an attempt by the pair to award merit to relief pitchers even if they weren’t the last pitcher on the mound.

Limitations of the Hold as an Official Statistic Tool

The primary limitation of the Hold is that it is not an official statistic tool tracked by official scorers or the MLB. In practice, it is a stat noted by pitchers in their records instead of something that the official scorer tracks as a statistic.

As such, there can be a difference in how different people score the Hold, which can lead to discrepancies and over-reliance on this unofficial statistic while making decisions.

Importance of the Hold

Despite its limitations, the Hold stat remains important in assessing a relief pitcher’s performance. The Hold recognizes late-inning relief pitchers who maintain their team’s lead or contribute to their team’s winning chances.

It is an excellent performance measurement tool that values a player’s pitching ability in the context of their team’s overall performance.


In summary, the Hold stat is an important yet unofficial statistic tool used to evaluate a relief pitcher’s ability to preserve a team’s lead in critical situations. Though it has some limitations, the Hold is an important metric for determining the merit of pitching performances in specific contexts, and it is a tool that managers, scouts, and analysts use to assess the performance of individual pitchers and teams.

And while it is unlikely to become an official statistic tool anytime soon, its continued use and recognition by various sectors of the baseball community show that it is an essential aspect of today’s baseball.

The Crucial Eighth Inning for the Hold in Baseball

In baseball, every inning counts, but the eighth inning stands out as one of the most critical innings in which the Hold stat can be recorded. This article will explore why the eighth inning is so significant in relation to the Hold, the occurrence of an early Hold, and why understanding the lead is vital in baseball.

Significance of the Eighth Inning

The Eighth Inning becomes significant in Baseball due to the importance of the ninth inning in the game. Most managers would prefer their most reliable relief pitcher to pitch the ninth inning, which is usually their designated closer.

Therefore, the eighth inning marks the final opportunity for other relief pitchers before the closer comes in, making it a critical inning for Hold performance. If the team holds a one-run lead or more, a Hold can be recorded in the eighth inning if another relief pitcher enters and sustains the lead without allowing the opponent team to tie the game.

Recording a Hold in the eighth inning is still a notable achievement since it took place during a Save Situation and served as an alternate opportunity for relief pitchers to contribute to the team instead of solely relying on the closer.

Early Occurrence of the Hold

While recording a Hold anywhere from the 8th inning to the end of the game stands as a significant achievement, Hold can still be recorded early in the game. In some instances, a relief pitcher might sustain a one-run lead from as early as the sixth inning, and if they perform well until the ninth inning, they will earn a Hold.

It is a testament to the pitcher’s abilities because they sustained the lead against the opponent for more than two innings and secured a win for their team.

Importance of Knowing Lead in Baseball

In baseball, the lead is a crucial component that makes the game complex in nature. Pitchers must understand the lead’s importance and continuously develop strategies to maintain it, earn saves or Holds or even repair the lead if their team falls behind.

Holding a lead means keeping the opponent team from scoring runs and ultimately earning a win. Pitchers need a strategy to protect the lead, which can vary from stopping runners from advancing the base, keeping the opponent away from the plate, or frustrating them by delivering different kinds of pitches.

A good pitcher is one who can perform this crucial task well.

Credit or Reward for Pitching Performance

Pitchers who sustain a team’s lead are often credited for their efforts, even if they do not get to close the game. The Hold statistic provides a way to recognize the performance of these pitchers who help maintain and sustain their team’s lead.

Pitchers, whether starters, relievers, or closers, strive to gain recognition and reward for their performance, especially through official metrics such as Holds. Gaining these rewards is vital to achieving individual goals as a pitcher, and it also motivates pitchers to continue improving their performance.

Non-Official Scoring or Credit Move

Despite the importance of the Hold statistic, it is not considered an official scoring or credit tool in baseball. The statistic is usually noted by pitchers themselves, and as such, there might not be uniform recording of this unofficial metric in every game.

However, Hold remains a crucial metric for evaluating a relief pitcher’s performance, and it is often used by scouts, analysts, and team management to assess pitchers’ performance.

Ideas on Winning Actions

In conclusion, the Hold statistic’s significance in baseball cannot be overstated, since it provides reward and recognition for a vital part of a pitching performance. Whether a Hold is recorded in the eighth, sixth, or even the ninth inning, achieving it is a testament to a pitcher’s holding abilities and their contribution to the team.

To sustain the lead and achieve a win, a pitcher needs a good strategy to keep the opponent team from scoring. And, while the Hold is not an official scoring tool, it is a vitally important performance metric that evaluations the pitcher’s contribution to the team in specific situations.

In modern baseball, a team can win with individuals who record Holds instead of saves. Therefore, a good Hold performance is an integral part of winning in baseball.

In summary, the Hold in Baseball is a merit-based statistic used to evaluate relief pitchers’ performance in sustaining a team’s lead in specific situations. The eighth inning is critical to generating a hold, and it is possible to record a Hold in the sixth inning, showcasing a significant achievement.

It remains essential for pitchers to understand the significance of a lead and ways to maintain it. Although the Hold is not an official scoring tool, it is a crucial performance metric that underlines pitchers’ contribution to the team in various situations.

A good Hold performance can contribute to winning in baseball, making it an essential aspect of modern baseball. FAQs:


What is the difference between a hold and a save in baseball? A: A hold is a merit-based statistic used to evaluate relief pitchers’ performance, while a save is a statistic credited to a pitcher who completes the save situation and records the final out of the game.

2. Can a hold be recorded in any inning of the game?

A: No, a hold can only be earned by a relief pitcher if they enter a save situation, record at least one out, and exit the game without surrendering the lead in the late innings typically. 3.

Does earning a Hold mean that a pitcher is better than a closer? A: No, earning a Hold or Save does not necessarily indicate the pitcher’s skills and abilities.

Rather, it is a merit-based statistic that evaluates the pitcher’s performance in specific situations, indicating their contribution to the team. 4.

Is the Hold an official statistic tool in baseball? A: No, the Hold is not an official statistic tool in baseball tracked by official scorers or the MLB.

However, it remains a crucial and recognized performance metric for evaluating pitchers by various sectors of the baseball community.

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