As a fan of baseball, I often find myself debating which player is the best in their respective position. One recurring question in my mind is whether or not Kenley Jansen deserves the title of the best closer in baseball. Jansen has been a consistent force on the mound for the Los Angeles Dodgers, consistently averaging over 30 saves per season. But with so many talented players in the league, is he truly the best? In this article, we’ll analyze Jansen’s career and compare him to other top closers to determine if he truly reigns supreme.
Is Kenley Jansen the best closer in baseball?
Kenley Jansen, the star closer for the Los Angeles Dodgers, has been a dominant force in baseball for almost a decade. But is he the best closer in the game today?
To answer this question, we need to first look at the statistics. In terms of saves, Jansen has consistently been among the league leaders. As of the 2021 season, he ranks 10th all-time in saves with 326. In 2020, he finished second in the National League with 11 saves.
However, saves alone do not tell the whole story. Other factors such as ERA, strikeout rate, and WHIP (walks plus hits per inning pitched) are also important to consider.
An important stat to consider is a closer’s efficiency. This refers to the percentage of save opportunities that a closer converts. Jansen has a career save percentage of 89.9%, which is the highest among active relievers with at least 100 saves.
In the 2020 season, Jansen converted 11 of 12 save opportunities. However, his efficiency has dropped in recent seasons. In 2019, he saved 33 games but blew another 8 opportunities. In 2018, he saved 38 but blew 6 more.
Jansen is also known for his ability to strike out batters. He has a career strikeout rate of 12.5 strikeouts per nine innings, which is the highest among active relievers with at least 500 innings pitched.
In 2020, Jansen had a strikeout rate of 16.4 per nine innings, which was the second-highest of his career. However, he has had a declining strikeout rate in recent seasons.
ERA and WHIP
ERA and WHIP are important metrics for a closer, as they show how effective a pitcher is at preventing runs and base runners. Jansen has a career ERA of 2.39 and a WHIP of 0.91, both of which are impressive. In 2020, he had an ERA of 3.33 and a WHIP of 1.15, which are still solid numbers.
However, Jansen has seen some decline in these metrics in recent years. His ERA has risen from 1.32 in 2017 to 3.33 in 2020, and his WHIP has increased from 0.75 to 1.15 over the same period.
Competition from other closers
Jansen is certainly one of the top closers in baseball, but he faces competition from other elite relievers. One of his main competitors for the title of best closer is Aroldis Chapman of the New York Yankees.
Chapman has a career ERA of 2.25 and a WHIP of 1.02, both of which are better than Jansen’s numbers. He also has a higher career strikeout rate than Jansen at 14.8 strikeouts per nine innings. In 2020, Chapman had a higher strikeout rate, lower ERA, and lower WHIP than Jansen.
Another top closer is Liam Hendriks of the Oakland Athletics. Hendriks has a career ERA of 3.11, a WHIP of 1.11, and a strikeout rate of 11.3 per nine innings. In 2020, he led the American League in saves and had a lower ERA and WHIP than Jansen.
So, is Kenley Jansen the best closer in baseball? While he is certainly one of the top closers in the game, there are other pitchers who have better overall statistics.
Chapman and Hendriks are two players who have had more impressive seasons in recent years. However, Jansen has a proven track record of success and is still capable of dominant performances. The competition for the title of best closer in baseball is fierce, but Jansen is certainly in the conversation.
Ultimately, the title of best closer in baseball is subjective and depends on individual interpretations of the various statistics. However, there is no denying that Jansen is one of the most talented relief pitchers in the game and a vital asset to the Los Angeles Dodgers.