My rebuke to him was, “what makes him a top holds guy?” Our player in question was not a setup man last year, he wasn’t even pitching in the league the two prior years because he was recovering from surgery so what made this player a “top holds guy.”
From there I began to think about this idea of predicting a top holds guy. Is predicting which players will lead the league in holds something that can be done, or is it completely random and nearly impossible to predict? How can you possibly know before the season starts how many times and one pitcher will enter a game in a hold situation and get out of it unscathed? Opinions on the subject are meaningless, therefore I did some research. I looked at the top 10 holds guys for the last five years.
Of the 39 relief pitchers that appeared in the top 10 over the past five years only eight of them made an appearance more than once. Of those eight players three of them appeared three times on the list and none more than three times. Of the eight players who has more than one appearance on the list only two had a gap in years from one appearance to the next.
You may be thinking, well of course guys come off the list because good hold guys become closers. I thought that could be true too, but of the pitchers who finished in the top 10 more than once in the past five years only one of them became a full time closer, Robertson.
My conclusion, it is very difficult to predict from one year to the next who will be a “top holds guy.” Only once in the past five years has the same player finished first in that category two years in a row and never has there been a repeat of the top two in any order. So, we may think we can look at history to predict who will be a top notch setup man, but in reality it’s just not something we can foresee.