The Mariners broke their longstanding playoff drought in 2022 and the offseason of 2023 was a very important one. They obviously need a bat or 2 and they went out and acquired Teoscar Hernandez, who would slot in perfectly in right field and DH. The bigger question was if there would be a move to follow to address left field.
Jarred Kelenic was coming off a year in which he hit .141/.221/.313 and struck out over 33% of the time. The Mariners decided to give Kelenic an opportunity to prove himself but added an insurance piece in A.J. Pollock. The whole Pollock thing didn't work out and Kelenic had one of the best starts to a season in recent memory. An up-and-down year with a significant injury, showed that Kelenic can be the guy and a very valuable corner OF, but also that there is still some maturing and growth that needs to take place.
I am going to give Jarred Kelenic a B-
Kelenic had a pretty solid when you look at the year as a whole, I think one that was a success to an extent, he slashed .253/.327/.419 with 11 home runs, 13 stolen bases and a 108 wRC+. He had a pretty solid 9.9% BB% and a manageable 31.7% K%. He compiled a 1.3 WAR and showed that he doesn't necessarily need a platoon partner hitting .259/.315/.459 and a 115 wRC+ versus lefties.
As I stated earlier, Jarred Kelenic had one of the best starts to a season anyone could have, hitting .308 with 7 home runs in the first 26 games. A solid May was followed up with a poor June, hitting .173 and 1 home run. and striking out 37% of the time. He started to bounce back in July hitting .268, cutting the strikeout rate back under 30% before a broken foot put him out for almost 2 months.
This is the up and down. He showed he has the ability to be a 110-120 wRC+ hitter while stealing some bases and playing very good corner outfield defense. There is definitely some maturing that needs to take place, as evidenced of the water cooler incident. I will cut him some slack, as he is only 24 years old, but this is starting to get to the point that he needs to take steps forward mentally.
In Kelenic's last 15 games, he ended up hitting .261 and getting on base at a .370 clip. The only knock here is that Kelenic didn't slug at all. In those 15 games, he only had 1 extra base hit. I am not sure if the foot injury was making it hard to really drive the ball, as we know he has plenty of power. Hopefully, a full offseason and some growth mentally will allow the former first-round pick to reach his full potential and avoid so much of the ups and downs.
I think Kelenic will play a huge part in the Mariners season next year as they need a bat to step up, they need a corner outfielder and a left-handed bat. Kelenic is all of these things and can steal bases and play very solid defense. All of that, and he is under contract for cheap. I am hoping Kelenic can hit .240-.250/.330/.430 and hit 20+ home runs, he will probably steal 15-20 bases, and you know he is a solid defender. If he can do that, and avoid water coolers, we are looking at a 3+ win player which would be very valuable to this club.