Seattle Mariners outfielder Jarred Kelenic was imagined to be a savior. He was supposed to assist pull a franchise that had been largely irrelevant within the annals of baseball historical past into World Collection rivalry. He was a extremely popular decide for the 2021 AL Rookie of the Yr Award final 12 months.
Whereas the staff has grow to be significantly better since he was known as up, Kelenic has been extra of a detriment than a assist. Via 494 profession plate appearances (by means of Aug. 9), Kelenic is slashing .169/.249/.582. Since being known as up on Could 13, 2021, Kelenic has cut up time between the Main League membership and Triple-A because the staff seems to get his swing again so as. Nevertheless, it doesn’t matter what they do, the Mariners can’t appear to repair Kelenic’s damaged swing.
Of all non-pitchers in MLB historical past with a minimum of 490 Main League plate appearances, Kelenic has the second-worst batting common. The one participant ever to file a decrease profession common is former Phillies infielder and Cubs supervisor John Vukovich, who hit .161 throughout 607 plate appearances between 1970 and 1981. That’s it. This isn’t signal, clearly. Of the 70 gamers to have a median of .200 or worse after a minimum of 490 plate appearances, 53 by no means made it (or haven’t made it but) to 1,000 plate appearances. They have been all pushed to the minors or pressured into retirement earlier than then.
Kelenic might completely be among the many 17 that did, however of these 17, just one, Lewis Brinson, was an outfielder. Many of the gamers who lasted within the Majors have been catchers (10 of the 17), which is sensible given the significance of protection on the catcher place. That’s why individuals like Jeff Mathis lasted so long as they did, and why guys like Michael Perez, Austin Hedges, and Kyle Higashioka are all nonetheless getting ABs regardless of their offensive woes. That’s inappropriate although. Mainly, outfielders these days want to have the ability to hit. As nice a defender as some could also be, a middle fielder who can cowl plenty of floor, however can’t hit the white aspect of a baseball simply isn’t price it for many massive league golf equipment.
Brinson and Kelenic have had fairly comparable careers truly. Brinson was a highly-touted prospect circa 2018 earlier than struggling within the Majors. After a number of journeys again right down to Triple-A, he might by no means catch fireplace with the Marlins and now finds himself within the Astros’ minor league system. Whereas Kelenic was the recipient of far more hype than Brinson ever was, Kelenic’s struggles are all too comparable, arguably worse. Kelenic’s profession OPS-plus sits at 64, simply 10 factors greater than Brinson’s profession mark. Every has a bit little bit of pop, however a major problem with strikeouts. Every has fairly mediocre defensive metrics, and every was imagined to be a middle fielder once they have been known as up, solely to be relegated to nook outfield responsibility the extra time they spent within the bigs.
So, with Brinson’s career spanning more than half a decade now, it’s hard to look at Kelenic with much enthusiasm given all their similarities. I know batting average isn’t a very good stat to look at, but having the second-worst mark of all time in any category is never good. I know it’d be easy to say Kelenic will break out of this funk and become the elite outfielder we all expected him to be prior to 2021, but I really don’t think I can defend him anymore.
Can Kelenic still improve? Absolutely. It’d be hard not to, given where he’s currently at. However, expecting Kelenic to return to form after everything we’ve seen is a pipe dream. Maybe in a year or two, he can become a platoon bat with some upside in the power department, but if that’s what Kelenic’s ceiling has become, and if that’s what Mariners fans are hoping for, then they’re holding onto a miracle. It’s a shame to see how far he’s fallen.