The tale of Kenley Jansen can be summed up in two words: unfair expectations.
The Dodgers have been blessed with terrific closers for the last decade or so, with most compared to Eric Gagne, who put up arguably the finest three-year run by a closer in MLB history. Jansen hasn't closed for his entire major league career, but the numbers are at least in the ballpark when compared to Gagne's peak:
- Gagne 2002-2004: 13-7, 1.79 ERA, 1.57 FIP, 1.95 xFIP, 223 ERA+, 38.6% strikeout rate, 6.13% walk rate, .168/.228/.248 against
- Jansen 2010-2012: 8-4, 2.22 ERA, 2.05 FIP, 2.48 xFIP, 170 ERA+, 40.8% strikeout rate, 10.9% walk rate, .148/.249/.237 against
Jansen may not be quite at Gagne's level, but his three-year run has been remarkable. When considering that Jansen's run came immediately after switching positions from catcher, his climb has been nothing short of incredible.
Now poor Pedro Baez, who switched from position player to pitcher this offseason, has to try to live up to Jansen's high standards. Unfair expectations, indeed.
Jansen may not start the year as the closer for the Dodgers, but he is their best weapon out of the bullpen and don't be surprised if he racks up some saves this season. The cream always rises to the top.
Through his first 145⅔ innings, Sandy Koufax had 113 strikeouts, 77 walks, and a 3.52 ERA.
Through his first 145⅔ innings, Don Drysdale had 89 strikeouts, 43 walks, and a 2.59 ERA.
Through his first 145⅔ innings, Fernando Valenzuela had 143 strikeouts, 48 walks, and a 2.47 ERA.
Through his first 145⅔ innings, Clayton Kershaw had 139 strikeouts, 72 walks, and a 4.51 ERA.
Through his first 145⅔ innings, Kenley Jansen has 236 strikeouts, 63 walks, and a 2.22 ERA.
Jansen is under team control this season, with two years, 73 days of service time. He will be arbitration eligible in 2014 for the first time, and not eligible for free agency until after the 2016 season.
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|2013 Projections - Age 25 Season|
Those projections look strong for Jansen. I will guess a 2.53 ERA for Jansen in 64 innings, with 101 strikeouts and 14 saves.
Be sure to guess how you think Jansen will perform for the Dodgers in 2013. Include ERA, strikeouts, saves, and whatever else you wish to guess.