Jansen and former Braves pitcher Jair Jurrjens grew up as neighbors and were teammates in youth ball in Curacao
In March 2009, Kenley was the starting catcher for the Netherlands in the World Baseball Classic, helping seal a 3-2 upset of the Dominican Republic by throwing out Willy Taveras trying to steal third base in the 9th inning.
In June 2009, the Dodgers moved Jansen moved from catcher to pitcher. When he was an amateur in Curacao, some international scouts preferred him as a pitcher because of his strong arm and questionable bat.
After four seasons in Rookie ball and with the low-Class A Great Lakes Loons (MWL), Kenley had played 224 games, hitting only .234 with a .319 on-base-percentage and .346 slugging percentage. De Jon Watson told Kenley the obvious: strong-armed catcher who couldn't hit more than .230 in Class A don't have much of a future.
So the Dodgers converted him. He didn't embrace the move at first, but has grown to appreciate it and love the challenge pitching provides.
"I wanted to quit, to be honest with you," Jansen said years later. "I talked to my family, to my brothers. But I wanted to quit, honestly. That's the way I felt—like I was a failure, I didn't see the bright side."
In 2011, the Baseball America Prospect Handbook rated Jansen as the 8th-best prospect in the Dodgers organization.
Jansen said, "My whole thinking is strike one. Strike one will change the whole at-bat." The reasoning is simple: If the batter quickly falls behind in the count, it's an advantage for Jansen.
Plus, he said, "If I'm ahead in the count, I still have a lot of places to miss" with the next pitch. "When I get two strikes, that's when I have a little more in my tank and I try to sneak [the third strike] in there."
It may seem like Jansen is throwing as hard as possible, but actually he keeps an extra ounce of oomph in reserve.
Jansen was a late addition to the Netherlands national baseball team for the March, 2013 World Baseball Classic, as he was added to the roster for the semi-finals but did not appear in the game.
He also runs a foundation that aids young basketball, volleyball and baseball players.
Kenley is one of the best closers in the game, yet he even gets lost in the mix on his own team.
Jansen's consistency and quiet nature work against his marketability. Because he doesn't have an on-field persona and doesn't get emotional, he's not as identifiable as some of the game's more demonstrative closers to the casual fan. But all that matters is what he hitters perceive, and I guarantee they don't like facing him.
Aug. 16, 2015: Long before anyone was at Dodger Stadium, Jansen was awake at 4:00 a.m., awaiting the birth of his second child. And just before 10:00, Jansen had an eight-pound, nine-ounce baby boy: Kaden Isaiah Jansen.
There was planning to the birth—an induced labor allowed Jansen to remain in Los Angeles and not miss any games. "I don't have to go on the road and fly back and miss games," Jansen said.
Jansen and Don Newcome are close. "He's my father in the United States," Kenley says.
Underneath his fedora, Newcombe brightens at Jensen's name. "I think he's a fine human being," Newcombe emphasized. "He's like a son to me, and he wants me to just be a part of his life. That's no big deal, no instructions or anything. just a part of him."
Jansen says, "Mentally, he talked to me so much. He helped me so much to become a stronger man, a better man. I feel he taught me a lot about just how to be strong out there, and be competitive—on the field and off.
"However you want to say it, he's a Hall of Famer in my heart. I know his whole life. Just think about all the stuff he went through—nobody stronger mentally right there. So he definitely helped me a lot. I feel like he just made me better."
And Newcombe said of Kenley looking up to him so much, "I don't look down to him. I look level at him and see how good he's doing, and I cheer him. My wife sends him messages all the time and if I'm watching on television and he gets on the mound. I tap him on the hill on the screen: 'Come on big fella, let's go—and get that first lady. He can't hear me, but he knows how I feel." (Dodger Insider - June, 2016)
As of June 23, 2016: Kenley Jansen has 162 saves for the Dodgers. Eric Gagne had 161. Bullpen catcher Rob Flippo warmed them both up for all 323.
The Dodgers held a pregame ceremony before June 21, 2016's 3-2 win to mark the franchise record Jansen took from Gagne on June 20, 2016, when Jansen closed out a 4-1 win over the Nationals. Gagne was there to pass the torch, entering as usual to Guns N' Roses' "Welcome to the Jungle."
"You guys have the greatest closer in Dodger history right here," Gagne said. Jansen followed with 2Pac's "California Love," thanking Gagne for the congratulatory postgame phone call.
"It means all the world to me to have one of the greatest closers of all-time here," Jansen said.
While all that was going on, Flippo was in the Dodgers bullpen, where he's held the job for 15 years.
"Gagne was way higher intensity," said Flippo. "When he got up, it was rapid fire. I'd catch it and throw it back, and he'd already be halfway through his next delivery. It was crazy how fast and intense he warmed up. With Kenley, a limited number of throws, but it's consistent, the same routine, the same amount of warm-ups and the inning ends and two to the plate and he's in. Gagne would just throw, as fast as he can. He was like a bull in a china shop.
"Kenley is very methodical, he takes his time. Kenley is carefree. Gagne would be talkative early in the game and then he'd get quieter. Kenley waits for the phone to ring and then he takes the jacket off and gets going. Gags, as soon as the inning was over, he's on the mound and it's like, 'I got this game.' Two very different guys, but the same success." (Gurnick - MLB.com - 6/21/16)
In July 2016, Jansen was selected for the first time to the MLB All-Star game.
2017: Jansen played for the Netherlands in the World Baseball Classic.
Kenley's off-mound personality is about what you'd expect from a laid-back big dude from Curacao.
"I don't show emotion," Jansen says. "I feel like I want to protect myself. If I show weakness, If I show weakness, I give something else up."
July 2018 : Jansen was selected to play in the MLB All-Star game.
Nov 16, 2018: Jansen was joined by alumni Ron Cey and Dennis Powell in the 14th annual Thanksgiving Turkey Giveaway at Dodger Stadium. "This shows you how great this organization is, and it's awesome to be a part of it," Jansen said. "We're putting smiles on people's faces and helping them enjoy their holidays."
A total of 1,200 meals provided by partner Smart & Final were distributed. Also partnering with the Dodgers were Rep. Jimmy Gomez, California State Sen. Kevin de Leon, California State Assemblywoman Wendy Carrillo, Los Angeles County Supervisor Hilda Solis, L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti and L.A. City Councilmen Gil Cedillo and Mitch O'Farrell. Their offices selected recipients among their constituents.
Also selected were students in the "Community of Schools," a strategic community partnership to improve the education and wellness of children attending local schools (all Title I) and living in communities surrounding Dodger Stadium.
Beneficiaries of the program also included participants of Dodgers RBI (the Los Angeles Dodgers Foundation's youth baseball and softball program), local residents from communities surrounding Dodgers Dreamfields and the Bresse Foundation, a nonprofit organization supported by LADF.
"Many of our community members are coming from underserved areas that wouldn't normally have a Thanksgiving, and because of Smart & Final and our volunteers, they're going to have a great Thanksgiving," said Naomi Rodriguez, the Dodgers' vice president of external affairs and community relations. "We are honored to be here today as part of this Thanksgiving giveaway," said Joe VanDette, Smart & Final Group's vice president of marketing. "Smart & Final is about food, but more importantly, we're about the community and we're proud to be part of this event."
While distributing turkeys, Jansen said he will undergo heart surgery on Nov. 26, but he's expected to be fully recovered by Spring Training.
"If we don't find anything, so let's say they go in and nothing happens, everything is good, I will be done in two weeks," Jansen said. "But if something is abnormal, then I'll be down for eight weeks. ... But I still can do all my [offseason work] to get ready for Opening Day." (K Gurnick - MLB.com - Nov 16, 2018)
Dec 5, 2018: The family Christmas photo is typically a time for the whole household to dress up to pose for an adorable picture to send out to all your family and friends. You gather around the tree in your best sweaters and take as many pictures as it takes to get one in which everyone is looking at the camera and smiling. Kenley Jansen's family takes a different approach. Everyone puts on a Dodger Blue onesie, stands next to the tree and lets the magic happen:
It’s the most wonderful time of the year! It is all year long w/my family! The Jansen’s wish you and your loved ones a very happy and blessed holiday season. While it's clearly the matching outfits that make the photo so special, the Jansen children deserve a special shoutout for truly bringing their A-game to the shoot: At the end of the day, these photos are really about preserving memories as the kids grow up. Surely, everyone will have fond memories looking back on those faces and onesies. (E Chesterton - MLB.com - Dec 5, 2018)
Feb 13, 2019: Kenley Jansen said cardiologist Dr. Koonlawee Nademanee "is the best probably in the world" and it must be true, because the surgeon not only fixed Jansen's heart but also his mind. The Dodgers closer threw a bullpen session as if he never had a 5 1/2-hour procedure performed in late November to correct a defect that caused an irregular heartbeat. Jansen's early workout at Camelback Ranch was in marked contrast to last spring, when he coasted after a grueling 2017 campaign, suffered a hamstring injury rushing into shape just before the season started and struggled on and off right through the World Series.
Jansen said his heart is fine, mechanics are solid, velocity is not as important as late movement and he's hungry again—not just because he's on a low-carb, low-sugar, non-dairy diet that helped him shed 25 pounds.
"He lost a sixth of himself," said Andrew Friedman, president of baseball operations. "He is extremely motivated. A lot of his struggles was the hamstring injury. Mechanically, he got out of whack. It was a good learned experience for him and bodes really well for this year." Jansen agrees.
"Something in me is like, I got to prove everybody wrong," said Jansen. "I have the attitude since we lost the World Series, I just want to get better. Compete like I'm competing for a job, instead of having a vacation. We get to the finish line, but we don't go through the finish line, and that makes me more hungry. It's that mindset and I start now. My doctor told me to just go out and play and have fun.
"If you saw my bullpen today, I think the ball is coming out of my hand better than last spring. My arm slot is late still, that's normal, but the ball is coming out without trying, easy. Last year, I had a lot of problems with the [cutter] life. Got to be honest about it, I didn't have a Spring Training last year. Got the mindset, not just be a team leader, but the mindset of when you first get to the big leagues and win a job and be ready Day One." (K Gurnick - MLB.com - Feb 13, 2019)
April 3, 2019: Working out is the worst. You get sweaty and sore and there's usually very little in the way of chocolate chip cookies. However, Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen found a way to make it pretty fun: He worked out with his young child, Kaden. Is there anything cuter than seeing Kenley struggle with giant dumbbells while Kaden wanders around lifting the much smaller ones? No, no there is not.
2004: Jansen signed with the Dodgers, out of Curacao. Scouts Camilo Pascual and Rolando Chirino signed Kenley.
February 11, 2014: Jansen and the Dodgers avoided arbitration, agreeing on a one-year $4.3 million.
January 16, 2015: Kenley and the Dodgers again avoided arbitration, agreeing on a one-year, $7.4 million pact for 2015.
January 15, 2016: The Dodgers and Jansen and avoided arbitration, agreeing on a one-year deal for $10.6 million.
Nov 3, 2016: Jansen elected free agency.
Jan 10, 2017: The Dodgers signed free agent Jansen back into their fold. He got a five-year, $80 million contract.