Reminder: Kenley Jansen Is Still Awesome

jansen_2013nlds_game5I’m not afraid to admit that it got a little nerve-wracking watching Kenley Jansen try to close out the Cardinals in Game 5. Handed a 6-2 lead from Zack Greinke and Brian Wilson, Jansen allowed four hits for the first time all season, allowed the lead to be cut in half,  and even let the winning run come to the plate. Though he did strike out the side, it wasn’t fun to watch.

It also generated about a million tweets like these:

And while I know a lot of that is just the usual Twitter steam-blowing, there’s a lot of fans who actually, truly think that way. (Like whatever the hell this is.) So I think we’re going to need to set them straight.

First and foremost, the “four hits” thing is total garbage, because if you remember, the first batter he faced was Matt Holliday, who “doubled” to right, by which I of course mean, “hit a soft fly to right field that is caught 99.999% of the time, except when Yasiel Puig loses it in the sun.” If you think Holliday reaching second is on Jansen, then you’re wrong. There’s no gray area here.

Jansen followed that by allowing Matt Adams to stroke what was an admittedly well-hit ball to right center:

Though as we discussed earlier, Adams generally does very well against righty pitching. (And also, no pitcher should ever be expected to be perfect.)

After striking out Yadier Molina — this is going to be a trend — Jon Jay hit a grounder to the right side. A few feet in either direction, that’s a double play, and that placement is something the pitcher has zero control over. Yes, I’m basically describing BABIP, and no, you don’t need to subscribe to advanced statistics for the common sense there to apply.

Jansen then struck out David Freese — again with the whiffness — and, after A.J. Ellis went out to remind Jansen that he is, in fact, greatPete Kozma put a ball into right field that was also more well-placed than hit particularly hard.

With two men on, Jansen struck out pinch-hitter Adron Chambers to end the game. So what we have here is a defensive misplay, a seeing-eye grounder, a hard liner, and a bloop hit, as well as three strikeouts.

What we also have here is one of the elite closers in baseball, and yes, I’m aware that Craig Kimbrel and Aroldis Chapman and Greg Holland exist. Over the last two seasons, he’s got the fourth-highest K/9 among all relievers; he has the most valuable fastball around, and it’s not even close. We talk about the team taking off when Puig & Hanley Ramirez got hot, and that’s true, but it’s not a coincidence that Jansen took over the ninth inning around the same time, too.

You can either whine that Jansen “has a 4.15 ERA in the playoffs!”, willfully pretending that ERA for relievers in tiny samples or saves actually mean anything, or you can realize that of the 20 hitters he’s faced in October, he’s struck out ten. He’s walked one, and if Puig doesn’t blow that ball, we’re probably not even having this conversation. Including the playoffs, in 2013, he’s struck out 121, and walked 19. That’s insane. Yet people complain.

I will of course admit that Wilson has performed exceptionally well, giving us much more than we could have hoped for. But Jansen has proven himself time again, through the Javy Guerras and the Brandon Leagues, that he’s outstanding, among the elite. His only sin appears to be being a closer, and far too many suffer under the insane delusion that closers ought to be perfect, never ever allowing a hit or a run or — *gasp* — blowing a game.

Jansen’s not perfect. He can’t be; he’s human. But as far as closers go, he’s damn close to being so. And he’s good enough to help this team get a ring. That’s all you can ask for.

900 comments
FJ is hibernating
FJ is hibernating

Found out I'm going to Montreal next weekend, which means I'm going to miss games 3 & 4 of the World Series, since I'm assuming they just stare at you blankly up there if you ask them to put the game on in a bar.

DodgerBytes
DodgerBytes

All Kershaw has to do is pitch exactly like last Saturday, BUT he's going to need to score 2 runs as well.

corylol
corylol

Thanks to my idiot friend deciding to get married this weekend I have to watch the game tonight in the hell hole that is Fresno.  I am really hoping the Bums can pull it out tonight or I'm very likely to get drunk and kill one of my Giants fan friends who I will be staying with.  

My freedom rests on the left arm of Clayton Kershaw.  Please get him some runs today, Dodgers.  

Noel D
Noel D

HAS DEADSPIN ALWAYS HATED THE CARDINALS?

The satirical sports blog, DEADSPIN is now in full troll-attack mode.  And The Best Fans In Baseball (tm) cannot help but respond with the best whining in baseball.

Adrian Gonzalez' Mickey Mouse GIF, and other funny anti-Cards GIFs and images originate rom Deadspin.

When did this internet war begin?  What brought it all on?  My son tells me the Deadspin site owner is a Cards fan.  Are his writers just trolling him?

Below, I have included links to just one week's worth of the battles.  Many have been posted here.  Pay attention to the comments - lots of gems there.  Enjoy...

Why Your Cardinals Suck (10/10)

http://deadspin.com/why-your-cardinals-suck-1443513646

Dead Letters: The Best Fans In Baseball Respond (10/12)

http://deadspin.com/about-deadspin-5732092

The Los Angeles Dodgers Are Just A Group Of Hard-Nosed Overachievers (10/12)

http://deadspin.com/the-los-angeles-dodgers-are-just-a-group-of-hard-nosed-1444028180

Carlos Beltran Beats The Dodgers, Takes One Game Lead In NLCS (10/12)

http://deadspin.com/carlos-beltran-beats-the-dodgers-takes-one-game-lead-i-1444336725

Boy, you Cardinals fans will take to any medium to tell us what you think. (10/12)

http://deadspin.com/boy-you-cardinals-fans-will-take-to-any-medium-to-tell-1444434328

Cardinals Complain About Dodgers' "Mickey Mouse" Celebrations (10/15)

http://deadspin.com/cardinals-complain-about-dodgers-mickey-mouse-celebr-1445526942

Why Don't The St. Louis Cardinals Respect The Game? (10/15)

http://deadspin.com/why-dont-the-st-louis-cardinals-respect-the-game-1445679050

St. Louis Cardinals' March To World Series Crown Delayed Somewhat (10/16)

http://deadspin.com/st-louis-cardinals-march-to-world-series-crown-delaye-1446793419

How Long Can You Listen To This Cardinals Fan's Terrible Song? (10/17)

http://deadspin.com/how-long-can-you-listen-to-this-cardinals-fans-terribl-1447035171

St. Louis vs. Los Angeles, according to moron (10/17)

http://deadspin.com/moron-hey-baseball-is-the-primary-religion-in-our-to-1447210255

http://i.imgur.com/sMg7BlV.jpg

DBrim
DBrim moderator

Nice URL. SEO!

FJ is hibernating
FJ is hibernating

@NeDieterich I love that guy's stuff. He's Canadian, weirdly enough. But he gets the iconography. I also like that AT&T is just a stupid gimmicky glove and Coke bottle.

ABSmileBunch
ABSmileBunch

@FJinCLE You'd probably be OK to ask for it in Montreal, assuming that it wasn't the only TV in the bar...Montreal is the most english of the french towns. 

DBrim
DBrim moderator

Eat some bagels while you're there.

corylol
corylol

Just remembered the Dodgers-Giants rivalry violence and realized this was in poor taste...so sorry.  Me getting drunk and crying while my friends laugh at me is more realistic, anyways.   

Aaaaaaaaaarg
Aaaaaaaaaarg

@corylol yeah Fresno is enemy territory.  Good luck not killing a Giants fan. 

Aaaaaaaaaarg
Aaaaaaaaaarg

@NeDieterich Seems like the owner/founder of DeadSpin is one of the best fans in baseball so kinda feels like the staff there does this whole Cardinal slam to fuck with him.  Not saying it isn't true/entertaining/etc, just that that could be one reason why Cardinal slamming is so prominent on that site right now.  



FJ is hibernating
FJ is hibernating

@NeDieterich And the "site owner" is Will Leitch, who founded the site but doesn't have any connection to it anymore. Part of this is about pissing Leitch off.

FJ is hibernating
FJ is hibernating

@NeDieterich They're just enjoying the angry reactions they get. Plus the St. Louis people pass it around, get indignant, come on Deadspin, bodies pile up at the door, clicks go up...it's a gold mine.

FJ is hibernating
FJ is hibernating

@ABSmileBunch @FJinCLE I was there during the 2004 Series, actually, and had no idea what was happening until I got home. It was like being on the moon. I hear there are more English-speaking people there now, which is causing some, uh, tension.

FJ is hibernating
FJ is hibernating

@ABSmileBunch @FJinCLE I remember that you really just need to start and end your conversations with people in French and everything else can be in English. They appreciate the token effort.

ABSmileBunch
ABSmileBunch

@FJinCLE @ABSmileBunch Last time I was there, the Expos were still in town, so maybe a lot different attitude now...I still suspect you just need to find the right bar...my experience with any cities in Quebec is that they're mostly patient with Anglophones even if they have difficulty with english (and most of them in Montreal do not have difficulty with English).

DBrim
DBrim moderator

Rickard's Red is palatable cheap beer if you can find it.

FJ is hibernating
FJ is hibernating

@DBrim That's too bad about the poutine. It's like their version of Tommy's chili. But it's true about the beer. Everybody talks about how good Canadian beer is, but everywhere you go is Labatts and Molson. Ulch. La Fin Du Monde is pretty great, though.

Noel D
Noel D

@DBrim I spent many, many months in Canada (building dams), and can attest to the bad food and shitty beer.  Kokanee, eh?

DBrim
DBrim moderator

I can't do poutine because I can't eat cheese. But I have fond memories of going up to Quebec City and getting really drunk on terrible Canadian beer while eating bagels and watching curling on TV.

corylol
corylol

@FJinCLE @corylol @chiveonSLO FSU here, too.  Yeah, it's the exact same.  Probably even worse with the Giants finally winning a few.  The girls were the worst.  "OMG Tim Lincecum is soooo hot and sooooo good!"  

FJ is hibernating
FJ is hibernating

@corylol @chiveonSLO I went to school there (FSU) in the 80s and people there would basically just jump on the jock of whatever Bay Area team was doing well at any particular moment. Can't imagine it's changed much.