2011 Holds Rankings Update: May

Earlier this week we updated our closer rankings, and now it’s time to focus on the guys often pitching the most important innings, the middle relievers. This update is geared towards holds (here’s the preseason rankings), and frankly this list could go on for forever. I had to cut myself off at some point, so I did so at 30 players. Here’s the current holds leaderboard for reference…

Tier One
Mike Adams
Aroldis Chapman
Rafael Soriano
Luke Gregerson
Jonny Venters
Rafael Betancourt

Adams has been otherworldly this year, sporting an undefined K/BB (14/0) and a 0.27 WHIP. Even if he regresses to his performance level of the last two years, he’s still super-elite. Chapman and Soriano have hit some speed bumps, sure, but both are elite arms on good teams that will rack up plenty of the stat du jour. The single-season holds record holder (Gregerson) hasn’t had too many of them this year, but they will come. Venters and Betancourt are just nasty, strikeout heavy arms on really good teams.

Tier Two
Sergio Romo
Daniel Bard
Sean Marshall
Grant Balfour
Ryan Madson
Tyler Clippard

Yes, Madson is the temporary closer in Philadelphia, but he figures to slot back into his familiar eighth inning role once Jose Contreras comes off the disabled list. Romo has been just as good as Adams in two-thirds the innings, and Marshall’s right there as well. There’s not much to add about Bard and Balfour, though Clippard continues to be fantastic in the middle innings.

Tier Three
Kerry Wood
Matt Lindstrom
Joaquin Benoit
Arthur Rhodes
Jason Motte
Tony Sipp
Hong-Chih Kuo

Benoit has struggled quite a bit of late (8 H, 10 R, 9 ER, 3 BB, 1 K in his last 1.1 IP), but I’m giving him the benefit of the doubt. I’m not giving that to Kuo (who I love) because he’s already been on the disabled list and has been getting hit pretty hard when he’s been healthy. That said, if he straights himself out, he’s a Tier One guy. Sipp has started to move past the control issues that plagued his prior big league stints and is currently setting up for the best team in baseball. Go figure.

Tier Four
Kameron Loe
Clay Hensley
Wilton Lopez
Scott Downs
Koji Uehara
Evan Meek
Chris Sale
Jeremy Affeldt
David Hernandez
Chris Resop
Fernando Rodney

Hensley’s getting the job done, but his sub-1.00 K/BB and 4.7% swing-and-miss rate scares the crap out of me. Lopez figures to take Mark Melancon‘s spot as the primary setup guy now that the latter is closing. Some names that just missed the cut: Jim Johnson, Mike Dunn, Sean Burnett, Randy Choate, Joba Chamberlain, Joel Peralta, Antonio Bastardo, and the immortal Jamey Wright. Some of the holds stalwarts that will be on the shelf for extended periods of time due to injury include Pedro Feliciano, Takashi Saito, Joe Thatcher, Bobby Parnell, and Peter Moylan. Holds are a tricky business, they’re even more volatile than saves.

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Mike writes about the Yankees at River Ave. Blues and baseball in general at CBS Sports.

13 Responses to “2011 Holds Rankings Update: May”

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  1. Nando says:

    No Rzep? (read: Downs v.2)

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    • dfghjk says:

      I don’t think hes being used in high enough leverage situations yet. But you have to like his ability to get Ks.

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      • Nando says:

        I respectfully disagree. He’s the only LHP in the ‘pen and has been used both as a LH specialist and 7th/8th guy when the Jays are in tight games. They haven’t been that great thus far, which has limited his holds. I expect that number to rise. And for those who own him in Yahoo leagues, he has SP eligibility, as well.

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  2. dustygator says:

    David Robertson should be on the list, especially with his K/9.

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  3. mrhano says:

    I’d like Aaron Crow at the bottom of Tier 2. Especially with the SP/RP eligibility.

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  4. FBJ says:

    Think I’d take Salas over many of the players in Tier 4.

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  5. Josh says:

    no thornton?

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  6. Kyle says:

    Id like to see Koji a little higher, and I think he will earn his way up, if not into the closer role.

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  7. Mr. Thell says:

    I am really shocked to see Balfour that high on the list. What’s the story there? I know he has 8 Holds on the season, but he’s only had two useful seasons and he’s never topped 18 Holds.

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  8. Thurgood says:

    Why would Chapman be in the top tier, and Masset not even be on the list? Masset had a dreadful April in 2010 and emerged as a top set-up guy last year. The same is happening again this year – dreadful April, but back on track this month, and has taken hold of the 8th inning role for the Reds, which is a team that rides it’s bullpen.

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  9. RsubG says:

    Tyler Clippard is an absolute stud in my league. 10 team points league. We get the same amount of points for a hold and save. He didn’t get a hold the other day but he saw 6 men and struck all of them out. I just hate getting a blown save when a lead is given up in the 7th inning because it is a ‘save opportunity’ even though he was never going to pitch 3 innings.

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  10. LV Red Sox says:

    Chris Sale should not be listed in any Tier. In fact, he should be in the minors learning how to become a starting pitcher. How this White Sox brain trust ever won a World Series is way beyond my limited comprehension.

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  11. zpalm says:

    What about José Veras? The guy has a 12.91 K/9 with 7 holds. He has 20 more K’s than Clay Hensley who is on the list. I also agree that Robertson needs to be on the list. He too is a K machine with 29 in 18 innings. Only T. Clippard has more. Lastly, Jason Isringhausen belongs on the list, he has the second most holds (11) in the league, behind only R. Batancourt (12).

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