The announcement that Eric Gagne, former closer for the Los Angeles Dodgers, was selected as one of 19 new members to the 2014 National Baseball Hall of Fame ballot cam as an interesting surprise. For a more in-depth look into whether or not Gagne is deserving of a spot in Cooperstown, you can check out my article from last week. As Gagne is one of the most memorable and decorated closers in Dodgers history, it is only natural to ponder how the current Los Angeles closer, Kenley Jansen, can stack up against his renowned predecessor.
Just to be clear, I absolutely do not think Jansen has yet come close to what Gagne achieved. All the same, Jansen has been fantastic in his young, MLB career. If the right-handed native of Curacao can continue his great play, he could very well eclipse Gagne’s legacy. Some will argue that Gagne tainted his own legacy after his 2010 confession to having used HGH while recovering from an injury. Although Gagne’s admission may have blemished his performance, Jansen still has a standard to chase after.
Gagne ended his Dodgers career with 161 saves in essentially four seasons as a reliever. Over that time, he combined for an impressive 387 strikeouts and amassed an amazing ERA of 1.83 and a 0.830 WHIP. After becoming the first closer since 1992 to win a Cy Young Award in 2003, Gagne is most certainly a tough act to follow, but Jansen has put together an impressive resume of his own. With a ERA of 2.10, a WHIP of 0.918, 347 strikeouts and 62 saves in his 3+ years as a reliever for the Dodgers, Jansen has done a decent job of establishing himself in the clutch role for the Boys in Blue.
I doubt that anyone realistically expects Jansen to go after Gagne’s MLB record for the most consecutive saves as this feat was incredible. Nevertheless, Gagne only dominated for a short period, so if Jansen can prove to be more durable and continue to put up great numbers for years to come, he could very well surpass Gagne as the Dodgers’ most recently memorable closer.