Eyebrows were raised when the Rangers signed Joe Nathan last November. At 37 years old, and coming off a two year stretch where the entire 2010 season was lost to Tommy John surgery and the 2011 season had Nathan voluntarily relinquish the closer role for the Twins as he struggled in his outings, it seemed optimistic (putting it mildly) to think that Nathan would be able to pitch well enough to be the close on a team contending for a division title. He wasn't terribly expensive, but at 14 million guaranteed over two years, he wasn't dramatically cheap either. Many Rangers fans who wanted to see Feliz get a shot in the rotation felt that was the real benefit, someone with the "proven closer" label to take over and hopefully not be terrible (but might just be terrible).
Apparently in that up and down 2011 season that had a 4.84 ERA and bad peripherals to match, the Rangers saw enough from a scouting standpoint to think Joe Nathan could return to being Joe Nathan. 2012 was right in line with the strong Joe Nathan years that rival Mariano Rivera in excellence. His 1.8 fWAR was 10th best for relievers in the ML and his 1.9 bWAR was 17th in the ML.
There were some hiccups, his spring training was awful (and served as another in the steady reminders, never put any stock in spring training results) and his first week saw a blown save and another loss in a tie game. But after the first week he was absolutely lights out for the next three months, giving up 1 ER twice out his next 25 appearances and didn't have another blown save until 9/13. The was a stretch in the middle of the year and late where he was ineffective a few times with what was described as "dead arm", as Wash would use him more heavily than perhaps a 37 year old should be. But expecting perfection from your late inning relievers is expecting too much and Nathan was much better than anyone expected and one of the best late inning relievers in baseball last year.
Congratulations to Oracle Galvez for having the lowest score* with his projection. Here is a spreadsheet with how everyone did.
*Score is the average number of standard deviations away from the actual 2012 value
|Top Five Projections|
|1. Oracle Galvez||65.0||2.55||10.00||2.70||1.00||0.67|
|Bottom Five Projections|
|132. Mark from OC||30.0||4.99||8.50||3.00||1.60||2.83|
|135. Lee Carvallo's Putting Challenge||27.0||5.66||7.30||4.30||1.30||3.68|