The third and final relief pitcher rankings for today are cumulative saves plus holds (SV+HLD) list. While the opportunity for these counting stats is certainly taken into consideration, it’s typically hard to gauge with bullpen usage being so fluid throughout the season for most teams.
The bulk of the rankings are derived from bat-missing ability and pure stuff, expected outcome stats, and a little bit of HOTEL mixed in. Also, keep in mind that holds are much more volatile and harder to predict. We’ve only seen 18 seasons from a pitcher with more than 30 holds since 2016, while 79 closers have gone over 30 saves in that same time frame.
Team winning percentage essentially has no correlation with save/hold chances. The Guardians led all of baseball in save chances last season with 81, which is pretty impressive for a team that only won 76 games. The Reds, Giants, Guardians, and Pirates all finished in the top seven in saves last year, despite missing out on the playoffs.
On the flip side, the Dodgers and Astros had 61 save chances apiece last year, which was the seventh lowest in baseball despite the teams winning 190 combined games. The Rangers as a team only had 30 saves despite winning 90 games (and eventually the World Series).
Last year, the Cubs went 83-79 and had just 35 team saves and 57 save opportunities. The Reds on the other hand went 82-80 and had 53 team saves and 79 save opportunities. In 2022, the Cubs had 44 saves and 75 save opportunities while the Reds had just 31 saves and 53 save opportunities.
Teams win games in a variety of different ways, varying from year to year, and once you factor in luck, trying to predict save totals is pretty much pointless. I worry less about team context and more on the overall talent/skill of the reliever and hope things break right.
I say it every year, but if you don’t happen to be in any leagues where holds are counted, I highly suggest you try to find one (or convince your commissioner to add them) as you really are missing out. In my opinion, it just makes leagues more realistic because you can get value rostering guys in set-up roles who may be more talented and valuable than other teams’ shaky closers.