Hold (baseball)

A hold (abbreviated HLD, H or HD) is awarded to a relief pitcher who meets the following three conditions:

1. Enters the game in a save situation; that is, when all of the following three conditions apply:
(a) He appears in relief (i.e., is not the starting pitcher) when his team is leading; and
(b) He is not the winning pitcher; and
(c) He qualifies under one of the following conditions:
(i) He enters the game with a lead of no more than three runs and maintains that lead for at least one inning
(ii) He enters the game with the potential tying run either on base, or at bat, or on deck
(iii) He pitches for at least three innings;
2. Records at least one out;
3. Leaves the game before it has ended without his team having relinquished the lead at any point and does not record a save.
Arthur Rhodes, long-time lefty specialist reliever, is second all-time in holds.

The hold is not an official Major League Baseball statistic.[1]


Unlike saves, wins, and losses, more than one pitcher per team can earn a hold for a game, though it is not possible for a pitcher to receive more than one hold in a given game. A pitcher can receive a hold by protecting a lead even if that lead is lost by a later pitcher after his exit.

The hold was invented in 1986 by John Dewan and Mike O'Donnell to give a statistical measure of the effectiveness of the vast majority of relief pitchers who are afforded few opportunities to close a game. While middle relievers earn their share, holds are most often credited to setup pitchers.

In 1994, PA SportsTicker created an alternate definition for a hold, removing the requirement that a pitcher needs to make an out in order to record a hold.[2] In 2009, STATS LLC purchased PA SportsTicker, and the alternate definition is no longer in use.

While holds are not an official MLB statistic, they are increasingly visible in many box scores, including espn.com and MLB.com. Many fantasy baseball providers also include holds as an optional category that can be included in customized leagues.

Career leaders

The career leaders are listed based on total holds according to MLB.com,[3] which only records the statistic from 1999 onwards.

Stats updated through the end of the 2022 season.
Rank Ranking of the player all-time
Player Name of the player
Holds Career Holds
Years The years this player played in the major leagues
Elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame
* Denotes pitcher who is still active
L Denotes pitcher who is left-handed
Rank Player Holds Years
1 Tony WatsonL 246 20112021
2 Joe Smith* 228 2007present
3 Tyler Clippard* 226 2007present
4 Joaquín Benoit 211 20012017
5 Matt ThorntonL 206 20042016
6 Sergio Romo* 204 2008present
7 Luke Gregerson 189 20092019
8 Bryan Shaw 179 2011present
9 Scott DownsL 174 20002014
10 Joel Peralta 169 20052016

Baseball statistics sites such as Baseball-Reference.com[4] and The Baseball Cube[5] credit holds to players in games played before 1999 based on the record of the game situation when the pitcher entered and left the game. However, the hold totals do not always agree from site to site, or with MLB.com from 1999 onward.

The following players who began their Major League careers before 1999 would be among the career leaders if MLB had recorded the statistic in games before the 1999 season. They are listed here with hold totals as calculated by Baseball-Reference.com.

Player Holds** Years
Mike StantonL 266 19892007
Arthur RhodesL 254 19912011
Alan EmbreeL 194 19922009
LaTroy Hawkins 185 19952015
Jesse OroscoL 185 19792003
Paul AssenmacherL 180 19861999
Mike Jackson 179 19862004
Dan PlesacL 179 19862003
Bob Howry 178 19982010
Jeff Nelson 177 19922006
Paul Quantrill 177 19922005
Mike Timlin 172 19912008
Buddy GroomL 171 19922005
Steve Reed 168 19922005
Rick HoneycuttL 165 19771997
Mike MyersL 163 19952007

** as calculated by Baseball-reference.com to include years before 1999.

Single season record

The single-season MLB record for holds is 41, established by Joel Peralta in 2013 pitching for the Tampa Bay Rays and equaled by Tony Watson in 2015 pitching for the Pittsburgh Pirates. Peralta surpassed the previous record of 40 holds set by Luke Gregerson in 2010 with the San Diego Padres.[6]

See also


  1. MLB Miscellany: Rules, regulations and statistics
    The hold is not an official statistic, but it was created as a way to credit middle relief pitchers for a job well done. Starting pitchers get wins, and closers -- the relief pitchers who come in at the end of the game -- get saves, but the guys who pitch in between the two rarely get either statistic. So what's the most important thing one of these middle relievers can do? "Hold" a lead. If a reliever comes into a game to protect a lead, gets at least one out, and leaves without giving up that lead, he gets a hold. But you can't get a save and a hold at the same time.
  2. "ESPN.com: MLB - FAQ and other stuff". static.espn.go.com.
  3. "MLB Player Stats > Pitching > Holds". Major League Baseball. Retrieved May 10, 2021.
  4. https://www.baseball-reference.com/ Baseball-Reference.com
  5. http://www.thebaseballcube.com The Baseball Cube
  6. "Sortable Player Stats". Major League Baseball.
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