CHAD CORDERO 2005
Once the dust settled and the Montreal Expos became the Washington Nationals, a relief fell over the club.
Orphaned no more—remember, the old Expos split their time between Montreal and San Juan their last two years up north and were owned by Major League Baseball—the new Nats surprised everyone by contending for the playoffs until late-July.
Although the Atlanta Braves won the division, Washington finished their first season at a tremendous 81-81. A key figure came out of the pen to slam the door 47 times in Chad Cordero.
Cordero earned the job at the end of the 2004 season, nailing down 14 games while posting a 2.94 ERA and 1.343 WHIP. As fans and team settled into their comfy digs at RFK Stadium, he blossomed.
Over 74 games, Cordero set a franchise record with 47 saves as the Nats and fans bonded. He finished fifth in the NL Cy Young vote, made the All-Star Game and finished 14th in the MVP race. Not a bad opening act.
With a 1.82 ERA, Cordero baffled batters. His WHIP dropped under one at 0.969. In 74.1 innings, he scattered 55 hits and 17 walks while fanning 61. Yes, balls flew when contact happened as he surrendered nine home runs. But, his pinpoint control helped win games. His SO/BB ratio was 3.59.
Cordero remained the closer through 2007, saving 37 that year, but injuries derailed his career after. By 2010, he was out of top-level baseball.
His record remains intact and no other reliever has notched over 43 saves since in Washington.