I personally enjoy holds. Our H2H league (7X7) just adds holds as another pitching cat It is true that they are very random, but a top tier guy like K-Rod or Gordon are almost as valuable as a closer. You need to add a roster space or two to the league though.
Point 1: Lack of Trades
Let me start by asking you this. How many trades have you made to acquire a guy that gets holds? It doesn't happen and if it does, its a rarity. People trade for hitters who hit for average, hit home runs, steal bases, etc., or pitchers who get wins, strikeouts, saves, etc. But no one ever trades for a guy who gets holds. Ever wonder why this is? Its because they are unpredictable. A guy who leads the league in holds one year, may be in the minors the next. Or even out of baseball. Prime example.......Todd Jones, who is 3rd in the league in holds. While he is 8-2 with a 3.79 era this year, his previous 2 years he has had ERA's of 8.24 and 5.52 with WHIP of 2.01 and 1.53. Are these numbers that you would trade for? In fact, the reason the reds even have him is because he was released during the off season. AND HE IS 3RD IN THE LEAGUE IN HOLDS. Team that released him??? The Pitching starved Devil Rays. Knowing that, would you trade for him? The answer is most likely no, because odds are he will not repeat his numbers again next year.
Point 2: Unpredictable Statistic
Another fine example is Alan Embree. Alan is in the Top 20 in Holds with 14. Yet Allen is a Free Agent. Why? It could be his 4.42 ERA or his measly 26K in 36.2 IP. Or it could be his career 4.42 ERA that scares everyone off. But there is not another category (Besides loses and BB) that has anyone in the top 25 that contains a free agent. Holds are simply not that important to people. Honorable mention in this area was John Franco, who has 11 Holds and a 5.73 era. Yuck. To quote one owner, "a guy can come in a 10-6 game, allow 3 runs, and get a hold" Holds are not points for performance, they are points for being in the game at the right time. And since none of us can predict when a pitcher will enter a game, it seems silly to reward teams who get points for this.
Point 3: Bogs Down Rosters:
I myself have several guys on my team only because they get holds. But these guys are no longer considered to be good players. The rod beck's of the world do very little to make my team better. But he does offer the opportunity for holds. If the padres should decide to pitch him at just the right time, I may get some points from him. Instead of acquiring players who play on a more regular basis, I have to keep these type of guys around so I can try to get holds. It just seems to me like we are wasting roster spots keeping aging/average middle relievers around.
I haven't used Holds as a category, but have used Saves and I have some of the same complaints as posters above. Without having Holds at all, there's a bunch of great pitchers who aren't on any of our rosters, guys like: Tom Gordon, B.J. Ryan, K-Rod, Damaso Marte. I'd like to find a category that would encourage those guys to be on teams but I don't think Holds is it.
As an aside, this year we started using Winning Percentage as a pitching category and it sucks. Watching a guy like Matt Clement pitch great games for a month and going 0-4 just pisses me right off when Win% is a category. So I might eleminate Win% as a category and use a rate stat like K/BB Ratio or K/9 IP, something like that. If K/BB Ratio were a category, someone like K-Rod (81 K, 18 BB) would be valuable.
Roger Angell: I was talking with Bob Gibson and I said: 'Are you always this competitive?' He said: 'Oh, I think so. I got a three-year old daughter, and I've played about 500 games of tic-tac-toe with her and she hasn't beat me yet.'
I was thinking the same thing - if you want all the best pitchers to be used in your league, you need an average stat, like K/9. However, the reason why good MR arent used widely in the first place is because of volume. They simply do not offer enough IP's, K's or wins to make their exceptional ERA's and WHIP valuable. And the same would be for K/9, or K/BB. So I would have to go with something that is not an official stat. Earned runs per game.
If stud starter A pitches 30 games, 210 innings and has a 3.00 ERA, he's given up 70 ER. Thats 2.33 ER/G
If dud closer B pitches in 60 games, 70 innings, with a 5.00 ERA, (and maybe 30 saves), thats 39 ER. Thats 0.65 ER/G
If stud setup man C pitches in 80 games, 87 innings with a 1.45 ERA, thats 14 ER. Thats 0.16 ER/G
It rewards good relievers, but rewards all types of pitchers in the same ways. Good starters will have better numbers than bad ones. It would also force teams to have a balanced pitching staff, as they dont want to blow the stat with too many starters and not enough relievers.
holds were created in the first place to give some credit to MR's.. who were completely ignored... i totally agree with the pursose- to give some credit where its due to the MR's... but just like wins, losses and saves, its a very crapshooty category. just like when you draft an "elite fantasy" closer like Gagne whos the best in the game but somehow Danny Graves ends up having 10 more saves than him. it leaves a bad taste in your mouth.
but if youre in a slightly deeper league, holds are a cat which is pretty easy to manipulate. just grab some of the reliable LH "specialist" setup guys, and youre all set.
i think the setup which would give credit where its due is .... surprise surprise... a setup which is the most like real life. somewhat like draft 5 SP, 5 setup guys and a closer and count every single inning they pitch in real life. make sure the league size is on the bigger side. this increases the value of good relievers as in general the stats youre gonna get from starters arent gonna be that impressive cos a) theres more teams... b) you cant skip the unfavorable matchups.
[size=10]Manny Ramirez....$20 million
Pedro Martinez....$17.5 million
Curt Schilling...$12 million (and a $2 million bonus)
Never hearing a Yankee fan chant 1918 again...priceless. [/size]
I personally like holds because it is something where middle relievers can be recognized. As several have mentioned, it is almost exactly like saves, except you can get a hold if the team eventually loses the game. It is much more difficult to find good pitching categories than hitting categories, and holds is better than a lot of the alternatives.
We give points for holds in my league, and it's help to diversify the reliever position in our league. However, if you're talking about categories, I would hate to see Holds as a category. I think the correct place for hold credit is in a points league with a generic "reliever" position. By counting holds, you simply increase the number of players who are worth owning.
I personally own Francico Cordero and Francisco Rodriguez in my one-reliever league. For the whole of the season, K-Rod is only a few points behind Cordero in production. He's an excellent backup - thanks to points for holds.