# What Is a Save in Baseball? (Explained)

Baseball is a sport filled with various statistics and terminologies that can sometimes be confusing for newcomers. One such term is the “save.”

We’ll look at what a save is in baseball, how it is calculated, and its significance in the game.

We’ll also look into the history of the save statistic and its evolution over time.

## The Definition of a Save

A save is a statistic credited to a relief pitcher who successfully preserves a lead for his team and finishes the game without relinquishing that lead.

The save rule was officially adopted by Major League Baseball (MLB) in 1969 to recognize the efforts of relief pitchers who play a crucial role in securing victories for their teams.

To be credited with a save, a relief pitcher must meet specific criteria:

• The pitcher must finish the game and be the last pitcher to appear for his team.
• The pitcher must enter the game with his team in the lead and maintain that lead until the end of the game.
• The pitcher must pitch for at least one inning.
• The pitcher cannot be credited with a save if his team has a lead of more than three runs when he enters the game.

It is important to note that a save can only be earned by a relief pitcher, not a starting pitcher.

Starting pitchers are typically replaced by relief pitchers later in the game to protect a lead or keep the game tied.

## Calculating a Save

The formula for calculating a save is relatively straightforward:

Saves = (Number of saves opportunities – Number of blown saves)

A save opportunity occurs when a relief pitcher enters the game with a lead of three runs or fewer, or with the potential tying run on base, at bat, or on deck.

A blown save, on the other hand, happens when a relief pitcher fails to maintain the lead and allows the opposing team to tie the game or take the lead.

Let’s consider an example to illustrate the calculation of saves:

Relief Pitcher A has appeared in 40 games this season.

Out of those 40 appearances, he had 30 save opportunities.

He successfully converted 25 of those opportunities and blew 5 saves.

Saves = (30 – 5) = 25

In this case, Relief Pitcher A has recorded 25 saves for the season.

## The Significance of a Save

The save statistic is highly valued in baseball as it recognizes the ability of relief pitchers to close out games and secure victories for their teams.

It highlights their skill in handling high-pressure situations and their importance in the overall strategy of the game.

Relief pitchers who consistently accumulate a high number of saves are often considered to be among the best in the league.

Their ability to consistently protect leads and finish games successfully can greatly contribute to a team’s success.

Additionally, the save statistic has a significant impact on a relief pitcher’s career and earning potential.

Pitchers who accumulate a large number of saves are often highly sought after by teams and can command lucrative contracts.

## The Evolution of the Save Statistic

The save statistic has undergone several changes and refinements since its introduction in 1969.

Initially, a pitcher was credited with a save if he finished the game and his team won, regardless of the score.

This led to some questionable saves being recorded, as pitchers would often enter games with large leads and complete them without much difficulty.

In 1974, the save rule was modified to include the requirement that a pitcher must enter the game with his team in the lead.

This change aimed to eliminate the practice of awarding saves to pitchers who entered games with comfortable leads.

Further modifications were made in 1975, when the three-run lead rule was introduced.

This rule stated that a pitcher could not be credited with a save if his team had a lead of more than three runs when he entered the game.

This change prevented pitchers from earning saves in low-pressure situations.

Over the years, there have been ongoing discussions and debates about the save statistic and its limitations.

Critics argue that the save does not always accurately reflect a relief pitcher’s performance, as it fails to consider other important factors such as inherited runners and the quality of opposition faced.

Despite these criticisms, the save statistic remains an integral part of baseball and continues to be widely recognized and used to evaluate relief pitchers.

## Saves vs. Holds vs. Blown Saves

In baseball, saves, holds, and blown saves are all statistics used to measure the performance of relief pitchers.

Here’s what each term means:

### Saves (SV)

A pitcher is credited with a save when he finishes a game won by his team under certain conditions as outlined by Major League Baseball’s rule 10.19.

Specifically, he must be the finishing pitcher in a game won by his team; not be the winning pitcher; be credited with at least ⅓ of an inning pitched; and he must either (a) enter the game with a lead of no more than three runs and pitch for at least one inning, (b) enter the game with the potential tying run either on base, at bat, or on deck, or (c) pitch for at least three innings.

### Holds (HLD)

The hold is not an official Major League Baseball statistic but it is used by some fantasy baseball leagues.

A hold is credited to a relief pitcher who enters a game in a save situation, records at least one out, does not surrender the lead, and does not complete the game (i.e., does not get the save).

Essentially, it measures a setup pitcher’s effectiveness in maintaining his team’s lead, with the expectation that the closer will finish the game and earn a save.

### Blown Saves (BS)

A blown save occurs when a relief pitcher enters a game in a save situation, but allows the tying run to score.

The pitcher does not need to be the finishing pitcher to receive a blown save.

Note that a pitcher can receive a blown save and still win the game if his team retakes the lead.

In essence, these three stats are ways of quantifying the performance of relief pitchers, particularly those who are entrusted with maintaining their team’s lead in the late innings of a game.

## FAQs – What Is a Save in Baseball?

### 1. How did the save statistic originate?

The save statistic was officially adopted by Major League Baseball in 1969 to recognize the efforts of relief pitchers who successfully preserved leads and finished games for their teams.

### 2. Can a starting pitcher earn a save?

No, a save can only be earned by a relief pitcher.

Starting pitchers are typically replaced by relief pitchers later in the game to protect a lead or keep the game tied.

### 3. What are the criteria for earning a save?

To earn a save, a relief pitcher must finish the game, be the last pitcher to appear for his team, enter the game with a lead, maintain that lead until the end of the game, and pitch for at least one inning.

### 4. What is a blown save?

A blown save occurs when a relief pitcher fails to maintain the lead and allows the opposing team to tie the game or take the lead.

### 5. How is the save statistic calculated?

The save statistic is calculated by subtracting the number of blown saves from the number of save opportunities.

### 6. What is a save opportunity?

A save opportunity occurs when a relief pitcher enters the game with a lead of three runs or fewer, or with the potential tying run on base, at bat, or on deck.

### 7. Can a relief pitcher earn multiple saves in one game?

No, a relief pitcher can only earn one save per game, regardless of how many innings he pitches.

### 8. Who holds the record for the most saves in a single season?

The record for the most saves in a single season is held by Francisco Rodriguez, who recorded 62 saves in the 2008 season while playing for the Los Angeles Angels.

### 9. Can a relief pitcher earn a save in a tied game?

No, a relief pitcher cannot earn a save in a tied game.

The save can only be earned when a pitcher finishes the game and his team wins.

### 10. Are there any other statistics used to evaluate relief pitchers?

Yes, there are several other statistics used to evaluate relief pitchers, including earned run average (ERA), strikeouts per nine innings (K/9), and walks plus hits per inning pitched (WHIP).

### 11. Can a relief pitcher earn a save in the postseason?

Yes, the save statistic is also applicable in postseason games.

Relief pitchers can earn saves in playoff and World Series games by meeting the same criteria as in regular-season games.

### 12. Can a relief pitcher earn a save in a losing effort?

No, a relief pitcher cannot earn a save in a losing effort.

The save can only be earned when a pitcher finishes the game and his team wins.

Yes, there are additional statistics related to saves, such as blown saves, save percentage, and save opportunities.

### 14. How important is the save statistic in evaluating relief pitchers?

The save statistic is considered important in evaluating relief pitchers as it recognizes their ability to close out games and secure victories for their teams.

However, it is not the sole determinant of a relief pitcher’s performance, and other factors should also be considered.

### 15. Can a relief pitcher earn a save in extra innings?

Yes, a relief pitcher can earn a save in extra innings if he meets the criteria for a save and successfully finishes the game without relinquishing the lead.

## Summary

The save statistic in baseball recognizes the efforts of relief pitchers who successfully preserve leads and finish games for their teams.

To earn a save, a relief pitcher must meet specific criteria, including finishing the game, entering with a lead, and pitching for at least one inning.

The save statistic has evolved over time to address its limitations and ensure its accuracy.

While the save is an important statistic in evaluating relief pitchers, it should not be the sole determinant of their performance.

Other factors, such as inherited runners and the quality of opposition faced, should also be considered.