Seattle Mariners outfielder Jarred Kelenic was presupposed to be a savior. He was supposed to assist pull a franchise that had been principally irrelevant within the annals of baseball historical past into World Series rivalry. He was a extremely popular decide for the 2021 AL Rookie of the Year Award final yr.
While the workforce has develop into significantly better since he was referred to as up, Kelenic has been extra of a detriment than a assist. Through 494 profession plate appearances (via Aug. 9), Kelenic is slashing .169/.249/.582. Since being referred to as up on May 13, 2021, Kelenic has split time between the Major League club and Triple-A because the workforce seems to be to get his swing again so as. However, 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 at the least 490 Major League plate appearances, Kelenic has the second-worst batting common. The solely participant ever to report 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 a superb signal, clearly. Of the 70 players to have a mean of .200 or worse after at the least 490 plate appearances, 53 by no means made it (or haven’t made it but) to 1,000 plate appearances. They had been all pushed to the minors or pressured into retirement earlier than then.
Kelenic may completely be among the many 17 that did, however of these 17, just one, Lewis Brinson, was an outfielder. Most of the gamers who lasted within the Majors had been catchers (10 of the 17), which is smart 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 irrelevant although. Basically, 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 loads of floor, however can’t hit the white facet of a baseball simply isn’t value it for many massive league golf equipment.
Brinson and Kelenic have had fairly related 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 may by no means catch fireplace with the Marlins and now finds himself within the Astros’ minor league system. While Kelenic was the recipient of far more hype than Brinson ever was, Kelenic’s struggles are all too related, arguably worse. Kelenic’s profession OPS-plus sits at 64, simply 10 factors larger than Brinson’s profession mark. Each has somewhat little bit of pop, however a major problem with strikeouts. Each has fairly mediocre defensive metrics, and every was presupposed to be a middle fielder after they had been referred to as up, solely to be relegated to nook outfield responsibility the extra time they spent within the bigs.
So, with Brinson’s profession spanning greater than half a decade now, it’s onerous to have a look at Kelenic with a lot enthusiasm given all their similarities. I do know batting common isn’t an excellent stat to have a look at, however having the second-worst mark of all time in any class is rarely good. I do know it’d be simple to say Kelenic will get away of this funk and develop into the elite outfielder all of us anticipated him to be previous to 2021, however I actually don’t suppose I can defend him anymore.
Can Kelenic nonetheless enhance? Absolutely. It’d be onerous to not, given the place he’s at present at. However, anticipating Kelenic to return to type after the whole lot we’ve seen is a pipe dream. Maybe in a yr or two, he can develop into a platoon bat with some upside within the energy division, but when that’s what Kelenic’s ceiling has develop into, and if that’s what Mariners followers are hoping for, then they’re holding onto a miracle. It’s a disgrace to see how far he’s fallen.