What Is SU In Baseball?

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You might have heard of the “SU” acronym in baseball and wondering what “SU” means and the kind of baseball players that people refer to as “SU”. This article would define “SU” in baseball for you, as well as what “SU” baseball players do and how SU baseball players help their team.

What Is SU In Baseball?

What Is SU In Baseball?

SU is an acronym used in baseball for  “Set up”. A baseball  SU pitcher is a relief whose duty is to pitch the baseball before the closing pitcher. Usually, players who play Set-up pitcher roles, pitch a single inning all through the baseball game. Baseball Set-up pitchers are regarded by baseball pundits, coaches, and the fans at large as the next best relief pitchers in a baseball team. Set-up pitchers are second only to closing pitchers in their baseball team. Th Set-up pitcher position, roles, and Setup pitcher effectiveness statistics would be explained further in this article.

The position of a Setup pitcher in a baseball team

When Baseball was still a relatively nascent sport, there were no Closing, so there were also no Set-Up pitchers. But, with the growth of the Baseball sport, the Set-up pitcher role became more popular as well as the closing pitcher position. Set-up pitchers are usually brought on in baseball games to make a single-inning pitch, then right after making the first-inning pitch, the baseball Set-up pitcher is replaced by a closer. Baseball coaches/technical trainers bring the Setup pitcher to make a one-inning pitch before bringing the real closing pitcher on because they want to maintain the scoreline of the baseball game so that the closer would wind the game down.

Statistics for gauging the effectiveness of a baseball setup pitcher 

Because Setup pitchers get removed from the baseball game before completing and receiving credit for making a baseball save, the MLB decided that the ERA would not show how accurate/ effective a baseball SU pitcher is, so they decided to come up with a new pitcher accuracy/effectiveness statistics. The new accuracy/effectiveness statistics for a SU pitcher are the Hold or HLD statistics.

Way of calculating the HLD statistics

The Hold or HLD statistics is a new way the MLB uses to determine how effective a Setup pitcher is in a baseball team. This is used for Baseball Setup pitcher rankings across the MLB teams. Baseball Holds for SU pitchers are determined:

– By the lead that is kept by the SU pitcher who was brought onto the baseball pitch before the final closing.

If the SU pitcher could not hold on to a lead when he is brought on, he does not get a Hold. The Hold statistics is not officially a baseball statistic, but the MLB as well as baseball technical trainers and coaches accept it as the way of determining how effectively a SU pitcher is doing his job. SU pitchers who fail in what they were brought on in the game to do, would be credited with a blown save.

The Hold statistics eligibility  for a baseball Setup pitcher 

For a Setup pitcher, SU pitcher to be considered for a Hold statistic, the SU pitcher  must satisfy these:

– He must have been brought into the baseball game when his team is maintaining a three runs lead or at least a lead of one run.

– He was brought on into the baseball game when the tying run is on the deck, at the bases, or the plate. Then the Setup pitcher records an out for him to be given credit for “holding the lead.

Blown Save

Blown save is a term used in baseball for describing a situation where a SU pitcher fails in the task of keeping the lead. This is credited to the SU pitchers who were brought on to the baseball game during a save situation but does not succeed in preventing the tying run from scoring. Like the Hold statistic, blown saves are not officially recognized as an MLB statistic, but they are used to know how bad a SU pitcher is at protecting leads or keeping saves. A Set-up pitcher who successfully blows up the save situation is no longer able to earn another save in the game. 

Possibility of a Setup pitcher getting a Hold despite his baseball team’s win

A baseball SU pitcher can get a hold statistic in a baseball game even if his baseball team eventually gets beaten in the game. This happens when the SU pitcher manages to hold on to his team’s lead while he is in the game. If after the Set-Up pitcher is removed from the baseball game, the closing pitcher fails to keep holding the lead and the team loses, the Set-up pitcher would not relinquish his HLD statistic.

Setup pitchers with the all-time high HDL records 

Baseball players have had high HDL statistics in the past. Of all of them, the three Baseball Setup pitchers who have had the highest HDL records in a baseball season are:

– Joel Parelta who got the highest baseball holds in 2013, got 41 baseball holds. Before then, Luke Gregerson had held the previous all-time highest-hold records.

Set-up pitchers with the all-time lowest HDLS.

Some baseball players failed woefully at their job of holding on to their team’s lead in a baseball game. The two SU pitchers with the lowest HDL records are:

– Buddy Groom finished the 1999 MLB season with 27 baseball HDLs.

– John Johnstone finished the 1999 MLB season with 28 HDLs. 

Check the full list of all-time baseball HDL records at www.baseball-almanac.com


Although the MLB does not use HDL as an official statistic for determining how well a SU pitcher is doing his job, many baseball coaches/technical trainers, baseball journalists, baseball fans, etc regard the HDL statistic as very important in determining how well a baseball Setup pitcher is doing his job. Some baseball teams collectively have low HDLs in a season, the lowest of which was the Chicago Cubs in the 2002 MLB baseball season.

What Is SU In Baseball?
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