On A Closing Note

After Joe Nathan blew his third save of the season on the last day of September fans became enraged with him once again. It blew my mind. I was actually at that game and I remember a lady next to me make the proclamation that “Joe Nathan was not a closer. He never was a never will be”. Not only is he having a great season, he has the highest save percentage in the history of the game and for years he was better than Mariano Rivera.

But where does he rank in the pantheon of legendary Texas Rangers closers? Okay not that it’s really that big of a list but I dug down and decided to list the greatest seasons by a closer based on fWAR.


It’s hard to believe that Jeff Russell had the best season but the stats don’t lie. I didn’t include Mitch Williams or C.J. Wilson because frankly they weren’t that great as closers. Now with the postseason here it’s time to see how Joe does if needed in a more high pressure situation. I think he’ll be just fine. The simple fact is that when you look at the statistics he is having a great year and should not be judged solely on the old-school “eyeball” test.

And one more fact to chew on: In 1987 Dave Righetti was named the Rolaids Relief Award winner. It was handed out annually to the best closers in the game. That year he saved 31 games, blew 13 saves and had a 3.51 ERA. If Nathan had blown 13 saves this season then I might agree with some of his detractors. But he hasn’t and he won’t.

Believe in Joe.

James Holland is a Senior Columnist for Shut Down Inning. He can be reached at James.Holland@shutdowninning.com or @SDIJamesHolland on Twitter.
James Holland

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