Mariners Report Cards: Grading the 2021 Season for Jarred Kelenic

Curtis Christianson
SEATTLE, WA - AUGUST 14: Jarred Kelenic #10 of the Seattle Mariners celebrates after hitting a solo home run off of relief pitcher Trevor Richards #33 of the Toronto Blue Jays during the seventh inning of a tat T-Mobile Park on August 14, 2021 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Stephen Brashear/Getty Images)
SEATTLE, WA - AUGUST 14: Jarred Kelenic #10 of the Seattle Mariners celebrates after hitting a solo home run off of relief pitcher Trevor Richards #33 of the Toronto Blue Jays during the seventh inning of a tat T-Mobile Park on August 14, 2021 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Stephen Brashear/Getty Images) /
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The 2021 season for Jarred Kelenic began with high expectations, and it was highly debated whether he should have started the season on the Major League roster or in the minors. It was a hot topic whether he was “ready” or not. He played well in Spring Training, going 6-20, but the Mariners chose to leave him in extended Spring Training where he got more at-bats against minor league opponents in April.

Kelenic started the minor league season in May with the Triple-A Tacoma Rainiers. He made a loud debut there, going deep off of top prospect Mackenzie Gore and hitting .370 in six games before being called up to make his highly anticipated Major League debut on May 13th.

His first appearance came against the Cleveland Indians, and he had a big second game with a double and his first home run to show Mariners fans what he can do. He ultimately struggled in his first stint with the Mariners, though, and ended with an 0-42 drought at the plate before being sent back down in early June to work on his approach and swing.

Kelenic would ultimately rebound in Tacoma, and went 30-98 with a .306 batting average with 7 home runs. The improvements he made were not only on the field; by the end of his time with the Rainiers, he started playing more loose and was able to handle adversity better. He was able to deal with the successes and failures of a baseball season better and was ready to go back up to the Mariners.

Jarred Kelenic returned to the Mariners coming off of his first struggles as a professional baseball player, and not only performed better but also showed a better mentality.

Kelenic was clearly less frustrated with failure after his return, and showed better performances at the plate and in the field. His defense that showed warts in his first stint with the Mariners improved over the final months of the season as he played almost exclusively in center field down the stretch.

Offensively, he only hit .154 in July through 14 games, but he started to look a lot more comfortable in the box. In August, his batting average was only 40 points higher than in July, but he greatly improved in other areas. His on-base percentage went up 60 points and his slugging percentage rose by over 150 percentage points.

September was Jarred Kelenic’s best full month as a Mariner, where he slashed .242/.321/.537, and gave Mariners fans a view of what the future could bring down the stretch. Without Kelenic, the Mariners would not have been in the position they were down the stretch. Minor League insider Joe Doyle showed what Jarred Kelenic’s numbers would be over a full season if he did exactly what he did in September:

Those would be some pretty impressive numbers for Jarred Kelenic’s first full season next year. All Mariners fans would and should be thrilled with those numbers. Kelenic showed down the final 6 weeks of the season that he is now comfortable at the big league level, and that he can handle a full workload next season while being a contributing number to the 2022 Seattle Mariners and beyond.

Mariners Kelenic
SEATTLE, WASHINGTON – JULY 24: Jarred Kelenic #10 of the Seattle Mariners celebrates with teammates after scoring on a Oakland Athletics wild pitch to end the game in the ninth inning at T-Mobile Park on July 24, 2021 in Seattle, Washington. The Seattle Mariners won 5-4. (Photo by Alika Jenner/Getty Images) /

Another factor that Kelenic brought to the table this season was his emotional play; after a walk off walk against the Blue Jays, he was jumping up and down and pumping his fists in the air to celebrate. He also had a huge double in the second to last series of the year at home against the A’s and came roaring into second base, pumping his arms in celebration.

Without Jarred Kelenic, the Mariners might not have had the huge crowds for their final three games of the year. After the last game of the Oakland Series, he took the microphone from Jen Mueller to publicly ask fans to fill the stadium and to cheer on him and his teammates.

With tears in his eyes at the end of the season as the Mariners playoff hopes were dashed, he saw how much it hurts to lose out on the playoffs and will come back next year focused on ending the Mariners drought.

Jarred Kelenic’s season finished on a high note and his growth didn’t necessarily show in his season-long stats, but in his comfort level and maturity. This is why his 2021 season grade is a B.

dark. Next. Seattle's 2022 Offseason Plan: A Collaborative Approach

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