The 2016 season was an injury-riddled one for the Los Angeles Dodgers, as they set a single-season record for players put on the disabled list at 28. Kenley Jansen was among the few on the pitching staff who managed to remain healthy, and he garnered national attention.
As part of his annual position rankings, ESPN’s Buster Olney has Jansen ranked third on the list of the top-10 relief pitchers in baseball. Jansen also checked in third on Olney’s rankings after the 2015 season.
At that time the Curacao native finished behind Aroldis Chapman and Wade Davis. Jansen this time follows Zach Britton and Andrew Miller. Chapman is ranked fourth.
Jansen’s 2016 season was his best as a professional. The power right-hander converted a career-high 47 saves, posted a 9.45 strikeout-to-walk ratio, along with averaging 13.6 strikeouts per nine innings, and 104 total strikeouts to just 11 walks.
Jansen was selected to his first All-Star Game and passed Eric Gagné as the all-time franchise leader in saves. Aside from a hiccup against the Washington Nationals in Game 3 of the National League Division Series, Jansen more than answered the bell during the postseason.
With the Dodgers clinging to a one-run lead in Game 5 of the NLDS and in a precarious position, Jansen was called on in the seventh inning. He went on to throw 51 pitches in 2.1 scoreless innings, both of which were career highs.
Jansen then collected four strikeouts and held the Chicago Cubs scoreless over a career-high three innings in Game 6 of the NL Championship Series. He entered the offseason as one of the top closers available.
Although there was some doubt whether Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman would spend lavishly on a reliever, the club reportedly agreed to terms with Jansen on a five-year, $80 million contract.
Adam Katz, Jansen’s agent, said the closer rejected more lucrative offers and was ultimately motivated to remain with the Dodgers.