It may have been a blip on the calendar to some of you, but on June 20, 2016 Right handed super closer Kenley Jansen recorded his 162nd career save to overtake Eric Gagne and become the Dodger’s all-time franchise save leader. It was so much more than a blip as it marked the peak of an incredible career and talent. Jansen went from a Mendoza line hitting catcher in the minor leagues to one of the greatest closers in baseball. What an incredible journey.
Kenley always had a very strong arm, but was never much of a hitter. That’s why the Dodgers at the time asked him if he would be interested in pitching. The rest is history.
Jansen took a page right out of Mariano Rivera’s book. He learned one devastating out pitch. The cutter. Mix in an effective slider and two-seamer, and boom you have a terrific closer. Although Jansen’s cutter is faster than Rivera’s was.
Kenley went to on to break a couple of other records in 2016 as he had one of the best seasons of his illustrious career. Later in the season Kenley would go on to break the franchise record for strikeouts by a reliever previously set by Jim Brewer. He now has 632 career punch-outs; the record was 603 set by Brewer.
Kenley finished the 2016 season with 47 saves, a 1.83 ERA in 71 games and a strikeout per nine rate (One of the highest strikeout rates for a reliever in years) of 13.6. Kenley struck out 104 and walked just 11 in 68.2 innings pitched this year. As a reward for his excellent pitching Kenley was selected to his first all-star game, and also won the Trevor Hoffman National League reliever of the year award. Kenley has 189 career saves across his seven seasons as a Dodger.
Resigning Kenley should be a top priority for the Dodger front office this offseason. There really isn’t anyone better out there.