This is the pitching portion of the boxscore from the A's 4-3 win over the Angels on Thursday night:
What stood out to me in that snippet of statistics was that Calero was credited with a Hold while Duchscherer was given a Blown Save. Huh?
At first, I thought that I was reading it wrong. Calero got one out while giving up a run on two hits and a walk. Duchscherer pitched an inning and two-thirds and gave up nothing at all. How does that bestow a Hold on an ineffective pitcher and brand an effective one with a Blown Save? It's all in how the arbitrary stats were designed.
To get a "Hold", all one must do is enter the game with a lead and record at least one out without surrendering that lead. Even though the run that tied the game belonged to Calero, it didn't cross the plate until he was already hitting the showers.
Duchscherer came into a one-out game with three of Calero's gifts on the basepaths. He got a fly-out and a pop-up to end the inning, allowing only one of the three inherited runners to cross the plate. He blew the save by having the bad luck to follow Calero, basically.
This is just the latest example of a lengthening string of evidence that Holds and Saves are among the more overblown stats in all of sports. Sure, pitching effectively in the ninth inning of close games is something to be noted, but is the save rule -- in its current form -- the best way to accomplish that? Isn't it more telling to just use ERA, WHIP, batting average against and inherited runners to measure reliever effectiveness?
I tend to disregard save totals for the same reason I tend to ignore win-loss records; it's a pitching stat that depends heavily on the score of the game, as influenced by the pitcher's offensive teammates. That element tends to taint what we're trying to measure in the first place -- pitching effectiveness.
How would you change the save and hold rules? Or would you keep them as they are? Get rid of them entirely?