Thursday, August 11, 2011

Joe Nathan Becomes Twins All-Time Saves Leader


Joe Nathan was acquired by the Twins with Boof Bonser and Francisco Liriano in one of the biggest heists of the last quarter century. The Twins sent AJ Pierzynski to the Giants for that trio, so not only did the Twins ultimately upgrade their catching position by going from Pierzysnki to Joe Mauer, they also acquired three players that would make an impact in the big leagues.

At the time of the deal, Nathan was coming off a great season, but was still not well known. Liriano was considered a decent prospect, but injury issues seemed like they'd nag him for his career (which, to a point, they have) so the immediate assumption was that Boof Bonser was the centerpiece of the trade. Bonser was a former first round pick and a solid mid-rotation prospect, but Nathan and Liriano ended up being all-star caliber players after the trade while Bonser was productive for about a season and a half before the team traded him to Boston.

Last night, Joe Nathan broke the all-time Twins record for saves. Nathan posted his 255th save as a Twin, which allowed him to surpass Rick Aguilera for first all-time. Nathan has been nothing short of great since arriving in Minnesota, as most fans understand, but it seems to get lost in the shuffle just how dominant Nathan has been.

Since 2004, his first year in Minnesota, Nathan has gone 23-13 with a 2.10 ERA, a K:BB ratio of 4.15:1, a WHIP of 0.96 and the aforementioned 255 saves in 284 opportunities. That's a success rate of 90%, which is very good. For example, in 2010, a 90% success rate on saves would have ranked Nathan 7th among closers.

Congrats to Joe Nathan, even in a lost season. Breaking the all-time saves record in Twins franchise history is a major accomplishment and I'm sure he is very proud tonight, as he should be. Here's to hoping that number continues to climb.