The Hold stat was created in part to measure the effectiveness of middle relief pitchers. Put simply, holds are to middle relievers what saves are to closers.
A Hold is earned when a reliever comes into a save situation and gives way to another reliever without giving up the lead, while recording at least one out. One of two conditions must be met for a pitcher to record a Hold:
1. He enters with a lead of three runs or less (save situation) and maintains that lead while recording at least one out.
2. He enters the game with the tying run on-deck, at the plate or on the bases, and records an out.
The Hold statistic was created to give credit to the late inning relief pitchers, who’s job is to set up the closer. A pitcher cannot receive a win or a save in a game in which he records a hold, but more than one relief pitcher can record a hold in a game. It is also possible for a pitcher to receive a hold and a loss in the same game should he exit with the lead. In this case, the runners that pitcher left on base are his responsibility, and if they score the go-ahead runs, that pitcher could be saddled with a loss.
The single-season record for holds is 41, set by Joel Peralta in 2013 and tied by Tony Watson in 2015. However, this only includes pitchers from 1999 to the present, as Major League Baseball didn’t recognize the stat as official until then.
The following chart are the ‘official’ all-time leaders in Holds since 1999:
This table shows players who began their Major League careers before 1999 and would be among the career leaders if MLB had recorded the statistic in games before the 1999 season.