After years of falling under the radar, Los Angeles Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen has garnered national recognition over the previous two seasons for his consistent, dominating outings in the ninth inning.
That was most recently evident when MLB Network’s The Shredder ranked Jansen as the best reliever in all of baseball.
The right-hander has long been compared to New York Yankees’ future Hall-of-Fame closer Mariano Rivera for his devastating cutter that generates high swing-and-miss percentages, in addition to his tendency to pound the strike zone.
During the World Series, Rivera praised Jansen’s confidence on the mound, citing his ability to attack hitters, via Ryan Fagan of Sporting News:
“One thing that I like about Kenley is his demeanor, and the way he goes to his business, just attacking the hitters,” he said. “He doesn’t mess around. He just goes, attacks the hitters. That’s what closers are supposed to do. There’s no time to be walking people, and he doesn’t do that. It’s great to see youngsters do that.”
As Rivera notes, Jansen is one of the most effective relievers in limiting walks. Since the 2016 season, the 30-year-old has yielded just 18 free passes over 137 innings — easily the lowest rate in the Majors.
In 2017, Jansen enjoyed another elite season that earned him All-Star honors, National League Cy Young consideration and MVP votes.
He tied for the NL lead with 41 saves, while posting a minuscule 1.32 ERA, 1.31 FIP and 0.75 WHIP across 68.1 innings. What’s more, Jansen struck out more than 14 batters per nine innings and accumulated a career-best 3.6 WAR (FanGraphs) for his overall production.
The Curacao native went on to allow just three runs and 13 baserunners over 16.2 postseason innings — good for a 1.62 ERA and 0.66 WHIP.