We all know how good Los Angeles Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen is. He’s one of the top closers in all of baseball, so it shouldn’t come as a shock to any of us that the Los Angeles Times rated him as the best closer in the National League West during their rankings process for the division.
With Jansen being labeled as the best, the next best closer in the division was Santiago Casilla of the San Francisco Giants. Then came Brad Ziegler of the Arizona Diamondbacks, Jason Motte of the Colorado Rockies, and the San Diego Padres’ new closer Fernando Rodney.
Jansen is one of the most underrated players in the game, who for some reason never comes up when “experts” talk about the best closers. But in the last three seasons, he is fourth in saves, fourth among relievers with 13.52 strikeouts per nine innings and sixth among relievers with a 0.931 WHIP. He throws a cutter 90% of the time, and it’s basically unhittable. Seems like there was another reliever like that … oh, yeah, Mariano Rivera.
As Mitchell notes, the key things to take away from all of this is that Jansen is posting a 13.52 strikeouts-per-nine ratio over the last three seasons, and he’s basically a one pitch closer. That’s astounding. It truly gives you an idea of just how dominant Jansen happens to be on the mound late in games.
While a lot of other closers have at least two pitches that they can throw in any count, Jansen relies on his cutter to be the pitch of choice. For instance, last season, according to Brooks Baseball, Jansen threw 717 cutters. He only threw 114 non-cutters. That’s remarkable. He generated a 17.85% whiff rate on his cutters last year.
Due to Jansen being so highly rated on this list, the Dodgers now sit at 69 points which does lead the list of NL West teams. So far, we’ve seen position players, starting rotation, and closers tabulated. The team has a 5-point lead on the second-place Giants. The rest of the bullpen and the bench will be up soon from the LA Times.