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Joseph Michael Nathan (born November 22, 1974 in Houston, Texas) is an American former professional baseball player in Major League Baseball. He played for the San Francisco Giants, Minnesota Twins, Texas Rangers, Detroit Tigers, and Chicago Cubs. He batted and throwed right-handed. He started playing baseball as a shortstop in high school, and played the same position in college. However, he became a pitcher after the San Francisco Giants drafted him in 1995. He worked his way through the minor leagues, alternating between spots in the rotation and the bullpen. After a few years of splitting time between the majors and the minors, Nathan had a breakout season as a setup man for the Giants in 2003. That offseason, Nathan was traded to the Minnesota Twins and became their closer.

High school careerEdit

Joe Nathan attended Pine Bush High School in Pine Bush, New York, where he played basketball and baseball and ran track. He graduated in 1992.[1] However, only Division III colleges showed even minimal interest in having him play for their program.[2] Nathan ended up playing college baseball at Stony Brook University as a result of his baseball coach and Stony Brook's coach having a history; Pine Bush assistant baseball coach Jeff Masionet and Stony Brook baseball coach Matt Senk played college baseball together at State University of New York at Cortland.[2]

College careerEdit

Nathan played college baseball as a shortstop at Division III Stony Brook University.[3] He became a two-time Academic All-American, and graduated as a member of the Golden Key International Honour Society.[4] During his tenure there, professional baseball scouts began to notice his good arm and pitcher's body, and on a day where a game was rained out, "literally someone from every organization" came to watch him pitch.[3] He was then drafted in the sixth round of the amateur draft by the San Francisco Giants in 1995,[3] and signed on June 2, a day after being drafted.[5] His college jersey number has since been retired,[6] and he has been given the University Medal, the highest recognition given by the university.[4] Joe also played for the Fairfield Stallions in the New England Collegiate Baseball League in 1994.

Minor league careerEdit

Nathan began his minor league career playing class A ball for the Bellingham Giants.[7] After an unsuccessful year at the plate, the Giants tried to convert Nathan into a pitcher, but he refused to do that and left the game.[3] He went back to Stony Brook for a year, graduating with a degree in business management.[1] After he graduated, Nathan returned to the Giants organization and became a standout pitching prospect. After a season with the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes, he played at both the A and AA levels (the San Jose Giants and Shreveport Captains) in 1998 as a starter.[7] During his tenure with San Jose, he started 22 games, earned an ERA of 3.32 with 118 strikeouts, and led the Giants to the California League Championship.[8] He played two games in Shreveport in 1999 before receiving his promotion to the big-league club in 1999.[7]

MLB careerEdit

San Francisco GiantsEdit

Joe Nathan was recalled from Shreveport on April 20, taking the roster spot of Barry Bonds, who was sent to the disabled list after undergoing surgery on his left elbow.[9] He made his major league debut the next day on April 21, 1999, pitching seven shutout innings and winning his first major-league decision in a 4-0 win.[10] He split time the rest of the season between the AAA-affiliate Fresno Grizzlies and the Giants, posting a 6-4 record at AAA and a 7-4 record at the major league level, as well as earning his first career save on May 16.[7] After playing in the minors for a short time in 2000, Nathan spent most of the season in the majors, finishing the season with a 5-2 record.[5] He also hit two home runs during the 2000 season.[5] He spent two stints on the disabled list: from May 17 to June 6 due to right shoulder tendinitis, and from July 14 to August 18 due to right shoulder inflammation.[11] At the end of the season, Nathan had arthroscopic surgery on his right shoulder, and as a result spent the 2001 season in the minors.[8]

During the 2001 season, Nathan spent part of the season at AAA Fresno, but had a disappointing ERA of 7.77, and some time at AA Shreveport, where he played both as a starter and a reliever.[7] He finished the season a combined 3-11 with an ERA over 7, and the 2002 season saw him earn an ERA of over 5 at Fresno with a 6-12 record.[7] However, Nathan worked his way back up to the majors, and at the start of the 2003 season he was back with the Giants. This transition came with marriage as well; Nathan married Lisa Lemoncelli, his girlfriend of five years, in November of 2002.[12] The 2003 season was a breakout year for Nathan, as he pitched his way to a 12-4 record in his first season as a reliever.[5] His 78 appearances put him high on the list of most-used pitchers for the season, and he allowed no runs in a span of 15 appearances from July 18 to August 20.[13] He had 12 wins as a reliever, the most during that season.[8]

Minnesota TwinsEdit

2004 seasonEdit

Nathan was traded from the San Francisco Giants to the Minnesota Twins on November 14, 2003. The Giants sent Nathan along with pitchers Francisco Liriano and Boof Bonser in exchange for catcher A.J. Pierzynski and cash.[5] The Twins decided to make Nathan their closer for the 2004 season. This was a risky move, as Nathan had only one save in five opportunities as a Giant.[14] Nathan had the inside track on the job, competing against J.C. Romero and Jesse Crain. He was signed to a two-year deal on March 4, 2004; Nathan agreed to an intentionally incentive-laden contract with a base salary of $440,000.[15] Nathan won the closing job in Spring Training, and started off the season strong. Nathan allowed no runs in 20 appearances, from April 15 to June 4, and earned 14 saves during the same period.[16] Nathan was also named the American League Co-Player of the Week for the week of May 10, after pitching four innings for the week, earning 4 saves in 4 appearances and facing the minimum number of batters in each appearance.[16] His credentials for the first half of the season, converting 23 saves in 24 opportunities with a 1.19 ERA in 26 appearances, led to his first All-Star appearance in the 2004 Major League Baseball All-Star Game.[17] He was the only Twin to earn a spot in the game. He pitched the seventh inning of the All-Star Game, getting Bobby Abreu to strike out, Mike Lowell to fly out, and Miguel Cabrera to strike out.[18] Nathan continued to post impressive numbers throughout the rest of the season, while allowing no runs between June 9 and August 18, and between August 25 and September 16.[16] Nathan finished the 2004 season with 44 saves in 47 opportunities, and an ERA of 1.72.[5] Nathan also earned MVP and Cy Young votes, finishing fourth in Cy Young voting and twelfth in MVP voting.[5] With the end of the first season came the birth of his first son, Cole, on November 9, 2004.[1]

2005 seasonEdit

In 2005, Joe Nathan picked up from where he left off in 2004, allowing no earned runs in 15 appearances from April 5 to May 10.[19] He also had streaks of 13 and 12 consecutive save opportunities converted between April and July.[19] As a result, Nathan was named the American League Player of the Week for the week of June 27.[19] Nathan earned another all-star appearance in 2005 for his pitching in the first half of the season. Although his record was 1-3 with a 3.57 ERA in 37 appearances, he had struck out 43 batters in 35.1 innings pitched, and lead the AL with 23 saves in 25 opportunities.[20] Nathan pitched in the 2005 Major League Baseball All-Star Game alongside fellow pitcher Johan Santana. Pitching the eighth inning of the game, he got Morgan Ensberg to pop out for the first out, then gave out a double to Moisés Alou. Felipe Lopez singled, and Nathan was able to get Miguel Cabrera and Luis Castillo out, but not before Alou scored.[21] Nathan finished the season with a 7-4 record, a 2.70 ERA, 43 saves, and a career-high 94 strikeouts.[5] Nathan also became the third pitcher in club history to post consecutive 40 save seasons.[19]

2006 seasonEdit

Before the 2006 season began, Nathan participated in the 2006 World Baseball Classic as one of the 30 players selected for the Team USA roster.[22] He played the first game, a 2-0 win against Mexico, striking out the side while allowing one hit.[23] He also pitched the 4-3 victory against Japan, again throwing a shutout inning.[24] Nathan went on to pitch the last game for the United States in the ninth inning against Mexico, again not allowing a run and striking out two.[25]

As the regular 2006 season began for the Twins, Nathan started off strong, allowing no runs from the start of the season to April 25.[26] He also converted 10 straight save opportunities from April 11 to June 17.[26] He recorded his one hundredth career save against the Chicago Cubs on June 24, his 99th save with Minnesota.[26] Four days later he got save number 101, his hundredth save with Minnesota against the Los Angeles Dodgers, becoming the fifth pitcher in Twins history to achieve that mark.[26] Despite putting up great numbers during the 2006 season, Nathan did not make it to the 2006 All-Star Game. He continued to pitch well throughout the season, passing Eddie Guardado for second on the Twins' all-time save list when he earned his 117th save against the Detroit Tigers on September 9.[26] Nathan was also given the Major League Baseball Delivery Man of the Month award for July, going 9 for 9 in save opportunities and posting a 0.75 ERA for the month.[27] He finished the season with some of his best numbers to date: a 7-0 record, a 1.58 ERA, 95 strikeouts, 36 saves, an 18th place finish in MVP voting, and a fifth place finish in Cy Young voting.[5] His 61 games finished were also good for the AL lead.[5] With 36 saves in 38 opportunities, Nathan also became the first pitcher for the organization to earn 35 saves in three straight seasons.[26]

2007 seasonEdit

Nathan remained the closer for the Twins for the 2007 season.

On September 25, 2007, Nathan was named as one of 10 finalists for the "DHL Presents the Major League Baseball Delivery Man of the Year Award," the third year in a row that he has been a finalist.[28] On October 29, the Twins exercised Nathan's club option for 2008.[29]

2008 seasonEdit

On March 24, 2008, the Minnesota Twins re-signed Nathan to a four-year, $47 million contract through 2011. The deal also includes a $12.5 million club option for 2012.

On July 6, 2008, Nathan was announced as a reserve player for the American League in the 2008 Major League Baseball All-Star Game. [30]

On May 27, 2008, Nathan blew his first save of the season by giving up an inside-the-park home run that scored three runs due to a misplayed ball by teammate Delmon Young; however, Nathan got two outs to end the 9th inning and the Twins went on to win the game.[31]

Through July 27, 2008, he's 28/30 in save opportunities with a 1.05 ERA and 48 strikeouts. [32] [33] He ranks fourth in the MLB in saves and has the second lowest ERA of the current top 10 save leaders in 2008. [34]


Nathan throws 2 fastballs. A 4-seamer that hits 95-98, along with a two-seamer that hits 93-96 and has good sink. He also throws a hard, biting slider in the high 80s (and will occasionally touch 90). He throws a big 12-6 curve in the mid to upper 70s. He will also mix in a mid 80s changeup.[citation needed] Nathan's longest streak is 21 opportunities without blowing a save.[citation needed]

See alsoEdit


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Joe Nathan Player Information : Biography and Career Highlights. Retrieved on 2007-08-21.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Joe Nathan: Face of the Twins. Retrieved on 2007-08-21.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 Beyond Tonight - Joe Nathan. Retrieved on 2007-08-21.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Stony Brook University Council. Retrieved on 2007-08-21.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 5.5 5.6 5.7 5.8 5.9 Joe Nathan Statistics - Retrieved on 2007-08-21.
  6. Nathan, Stony Brook benefited from each other. Archived from the original on 2007-07-01. Retrieved on 2007-08-21.
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 7.4 7.5 Joe Nathan Baseball Statistics. Retrieved on 2007-08-21.
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 San Jose Giants baseball club. Retrieved on 2007-08-21.
  9. Official site of the Minnesota Twins : 1999 Career Highlights. Retrieved on 2007-08-21.
  10. Joe Nathan 1999 Pitching Gamelogs - Retrieved on 2007-08-21.
  11. Official site of the Minnesota Twins : 2000 Career Highlights. Retrieved on 2007-08-21.
  12. No ordinary effort from this Joe. Retrieved on 2007-09-02.
  13. Official site of the Minnesota Twins : 2003 Career Highlights. Retrieved on 2007-08-21.
  14. No panic over closer situations. Retrieved on 2007-08-22.
  15. Twins sign Nathan to two-year deal. Retrieved on 2007-08-22.
  16. 16.0 16.1 16.2 Official site of the Minnesota Twins : 2004 Career Highlights. Retrieved on 2007-08-21.
  17. Nathan earns All-Star invitation. Retrieved on 2007-08-22.
  18. Nathan dazzles NL hitters. Retrieved on 2007-08-23.
  19. 19.0 19.1 19.2 19.3 Official site of the Minnesota Twins : 2005 Career Highlights. Retrieved on 2007-08-23.
  20. Twins send two arms to All-Star Game. Retrieved on 2007-08-23.
  21. Santana, Nathan help out AL All-Stars. Retrieved on 2007-08-23.
  22. Nathan gets chance to compete for U.S.. Retrieved on 2007-08-23.
  23. World Baseball Classic: Statistics, Mexico-U.S.. Retrieved on 2007-08-23.
  24. World Baseball Classic: Statistics, Japan-U.S.. Retrieved on 2007-08-23.
  25. World Baseball Classic: Statistics, U.S.-Mexico. Retrieved on 2007-08-23.
  26. 26.0 26.1 26.2 26.3 26.4 26.5 Official site of the Minnesota Twins : 2006 Career Highlights. Retrieved on 2007-08-23.
  27. Press Release: Joe Nathan named winner of the "DHL Presents the Major League Baseball Delivery Man of the Month Award" for July. Retrieved on 2007-08-23.
  28. Delivery Man of the Month/Year Award by DHL on Baseball Almanac. Retrieved on 2007-09-25.
  29. Closed deal keeps Nathan with Twins. Retrieved on 2007-11-30.

External linksEdit

Template:United States 2006 World Baseball Classic roster Template:Minnesota Twins roster navbox Template:CurrentMLBclosers

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