Jeffrey Allan Nelson (born November 17, 1966) is an American former baseball relief pitcher who played 15 years in Major League Baseball. Jeff Nelson is married to Sheri Quinn. He batted and threw right-handed. Nelson retired on January 12, 2007, the same day he signed a minor league contract with the New York Yankees.
Drafted by the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 22nd round of the 1984 amateur draft; he signed June 21, 1984.
In his Major League career Nelson pitched in 798 games with a 48-45 record, and with runners in scoring position and two out he held batters to a .191 batting average. In 55 post-season games (second all-time behind former teammate Mariano Rivera), he compiled a 2-3 mark with 62 strikeouts and a 2.65 ERA in 54.1 innings. Among hitters whom he dominated most were Troy Glaus, who in 14 at-bats was hitless with 11 strikeouts.
Nelson had three stints with the Seattle Mariners (1992–1995, 2001–2003 and again in 2005). He is Seattle's all-time record holder for most games pitched (383), and has a 23-20 record with the Mariners.
Before the 1996 season, Nelson was sent to the New York Yankees, and returned to Seattle as a free agent in 2001. In that season he made the American League All-Star team. Nelson's All-Star selection was considered an innovative move by AL manager Joe Torre, as Nelson's role of middle relief was traditionally overlooked during All-Star selection.
From 2001-2003, he formed the right side of Seattle's potent lefty/righty setup squad along with left-handed pitcher Arthur Rhodes.
In 2001, he held opposing batters to a .136 batting average and a .199 slugging percentage, and .074/.110 once he had two strikes on them.
Nelson was traded to the Yankees during the 2003 midseason. The Yankees lost to the Florida Marlins in the World Series and once again Nelson left the Yankees.
In 2004, Nelson appeared in 29 games for the Texas Rangers, going 1-2 with a 5.32 ERA. He was on the disabled list twice with an assortment of injuries to his right knee and right elbow.
Before the 2005 season, the Seattle Mariners signed Nelson to a minor league contract, his third stint with the club.
In the 2006 offseason, Nelson signed a minor-league contract with the St. Louis Cardinals, but was released before the season began. He was then picked up by the White Sox.
Nelson was a respected slider specialist, much more effective against right-handed batters than against lefties (who batted 55 points higher, and slugged 106 points higher, against him than did righties). He was also known for his three-quarters sidearm delivery, and threw a cut 90-MPH fastball as well. During his Yankees tenure, he was known for faking a throw to third and then faking a throw to first in the same motion, so as to avoid balking. This was and still is referred to as "the old Jeff Nelson" by Yankees play-by-play broadcaster Michael Kay.
On June 8, 2006, Nelson announced that he would undergo surgery, to relieve a nerve in his right elbow, that was likely to mark the end of Nelson's active baseball career. Following the operation on his pitching elbow, on May 10, 2007, there was controversy when he tried to sell bone chips from his elbow, removed in the operation, on eBay who cancelled the auction. Nelson, whose daughters attended Bear Creek School, were going to give half the proceeds to the School and half to the Curtis Williams Foundation.
Nelson has filled in on sports radio KJR-AM in Seattle and also worked as an analyst for MLB.com during the 2010 post-season.
In 2016, Nelson joined Fox Sports' pre-game broadcast team for Miami Marlins