Los Angeles Dodgers: Kenley Jansen’s legacy by the numbers
On the same day the Los Angeles Dodgers introduced Freddie Freeman to their fans, news trickled out that closer Kenley Jansen signed a one-year deal with Freeman’s former team, the Atlanta Braves.
With that, an era comes to an end. For 12 seasons the Dodgers could count on No. 74 coming out of the bullpen. For 10 years Jansen came out to California Love to close games and eventually accumulated the most saves in franchise history and cemented his legacy as the greatest closer the Dodgers have ever had.
Jansen’s only under a one-year contract so there’s always a chance the Dodgers could revisit having him on the team after 2022, but for now, let’s look at the veteran’s Dodgers’ career and legacy by the numbers.
In just over a decade with the Dodgers, Jansen recorded 350 saves, which is good for 13th on the all-time list. It’s a Dodgers record that will likely never be broken, with the next closest Dodger being Eric Gagne with 161.
The right-hander also holds the record for games pitched (701) and games finished (519) — a testament to his longevity and consistency in the closer role.
Jansen wasn’t just durable … he was also damn good. By using a combination of fastball and cutter, his 1,022 strikeouts are by far the most by a Dodgers’ reliever. In fact, Jansen is just the 12th reliever in baseball history to reach 1,000 strikeouts.
Over his career, Jansen’s strikeout percentage of 36.8% is tops among all Dodgers pitchers, which goes to show exactly how much of a force he was and still is. His 2021 renaissance showed he can still be unhittable.
Here’s where Jansen’s legacy gets complicated, though. Only hall of fame reliever Mariano Rivera has more saves and appearances in baseball’s postseason than Jansen’s 19 saves and 57 appearances. That’s greatness you want to be associated with, but it’s in the World Series where Jansen’s resume gets messy.
While Rivera has a record 10 World Series saves, Jansen has just two. In fact, Jansen has the ignominy of being the all-time leader blown saves in the World Series with four. Perhaps it was overuse, but in the three Dodgers World Series appearances in his career, Jansen blew a save in all three and owns a combined 4.40 ERA.
Jansen was part of the Dodgers’ 2020 World Series-winning team, but he wasn’t called upon as frequently in late-game situations (and it paid off), so perhaps this will remain the only glaring blemish on his decorated resume.
Otherwise, Jansen’s time with the franchise should be viewed positively. Those who choose not to do so will quickly miss his contributions more than anybody once the back-end of the bullpen shows how shaky it can really be without its most well-known figure.