Jarred Kelenic had an up and down rookie campaign to say the least. Frustrations and struggles dominated Kelenic’s first few weeks in the show, and he was sent down to Tacoma in early June. Kelenic struggled for the most part even upon his return, but late season life gave a lot of hope for a dynamic sophomore campaign.
The debut of Jarred Kelenic was about as hyped up as any in Mariners history. Aided by the debut of fellow top prospect Logan Gilbert, T-Mobile Park was rocking. I was there that day, and not to be cliche, but Jarred looks the part. He holds a swagger and confidence, as well as supreme physical gifts.
Many people soured when Jarred Kelenic was not as immediate a success as they would have liked, but I am here to tell you to expect a lot from Kelenic in 2022.
Kelenic slashed .181/.265/.350 in 2021. He ran a K rate of 28%, as well as posting -.7 Fwar. His Baseball Savant page doesn’t show well either, with most of his metrics ranking in the “blue” (poor) and only a few metrics showing positive. His Barrel % and Walk Rate stand out as positives, but the blue shows up in a wide range of stats, including Outfield Jump and K %.
He struggled average-wise against both lefties and righties. However, he did a ton of damage against right-handed pitchers, smashing 12 of his 14 home runs and 8 of his 13 doubles against righties. If he can up his production and comfortability against lefties next season, it would go a long ways towards his production.
Alright, enough of the negative. Jarred Kelenic was tremendously productive over his minor league career; he never posted a K % of over 22% in the minor leagues, or a WRC+ of less than 100. He ran a WRC plus of over 129 at every level.
Kelenic also posted a BABIP of just .219, roughly 80 points lower than league average. This signals that Jarred ran into his fair share of bad luck to start his MLB career. A mix of a ton of strikeouts and really bad luck to start a career can be tough on a player, especially one with such high expectations.
Zips sees Kelenic progressing in year two, but only slightly; his projected slash lines goes .229/.297/.432, with 23 home runs. However, Dan Symborski, writer of the Zips article, is even more optimistic about him than the computer is. Symborski believes Kelenic’s prospect pedigree and long track record of minor league success show there is more in the tank for the 22 year old.
Kelenic also never really looked like a center fielder in his time in Seattle. More than likely, this isn’t his best spot, as he profiles best in left field. A healthy Kyle Lewis, or potentially Julio Rodgriguez, could allow Kelenic to slide to his natural position of left field. Giving him some comfort defensively could help boost his offensive production, especially as a young player still adapting to the big leagues.
Kelenic shined at the end of the season, producing more mature at bats and clutch hits. His double against Oakland starter Frankie Montas (see below) late in the season was a glimpse of something special. Obviously, he has Tribal Chief of Baseball Twitter Jared Carrabis excited.
Don’t give up on Kelenic. Those same tools that thrilled you in T-Mobile Park for his debut in May still exist, and I am certainly not giving up on him after just 377 plate appearances. A hard worker with confidence, Kelenic has had a whole offseason to attack the weaknesses exposed in his rookie campaign. Expect the 2022 season to be a coming out party for Number 10.