The 21-year-old was named the fourth-ranked prospect in all of baseball by MLB.com before the season started, and when he was called up for the first time in his career on May 14 this year, expectations reached an all-time high.
Candidly, it has been a rough go for Kelenic at the big-league level since his call-up.
Over 18 games, the youngster is batting just .118 with a .446 OPS.
He’s also in the midst of an 0-for-22 stretch.
All of that said, there are a few things Kelenic has done well.
3. He’s Not Striking Out At A High Rate
Kelenic’s numbers on the whole are very unattractive, but his approach has been perfectly fine so far.
“‘He always has a good idea of the strike zone and what he can handle and what not, so that’s a big positive,” Mariners manager Scott Servais said recently in a piece written by Justice delos Santos of MLB.com. “He doesn’t swing and miss often, which is another very big positive to have in our game today.'”
Kelenic has struck out just 17 times in 76 plate appearances, a number that you can absolutely live with.
He’s making contact at a very high rate, which is going to lead into our next point.
2. He’s Putting Balls In Play But Getting BABIP’d
Kelenic’s BABIP (or batting average on balls put in play) is .122.
Generally, the league average BABIP floats around .300.
The philosophy behind BABIP is that a player’s BABIP will almost always regress to the mean after a large enough sample size.
In other words, a player with a BABIP significantly higher than league average has been unsustainably lucky while a player with a BABIP significantly lower than league average has been unsustainably unlucky.
If that philosophy holds true for Kelenic, then he could begin enjoying the results of his high contact rate very soon.
Jarred Kelenic's expected batting average (.250) is 93 points higher than his current batting average (.157).
That differential is the largest in the Majors this season (min. 50 PA).
In other words, Kelenic has been the most unlucky player in the Majors so far in his career.
— Adam Gresch (@adamgresch) May 27, 2021
1. He Is Maintaining A Growth Mindset
Transitioning to the big leagues is an intimidating task for any player, but for someone surrounded by such massive expectations, it can be especially difficult to get your feet on the ground right away.
Kelenic recently spoke regarding his transition and said all the right things.
“‘I’m learning a lot,” Kelenic said, as reported by Justice delos Santos of MLB.com. “The last couple days, I’m trying to just be a sponge and learn from my teammates, learn from my opponents and just learn this game of baseball because it’s a different level. This is the big leagues,”
The Mariners are a team whose future is going to depend entirely on the growth and development of young players.
.@JKelenic_1019 shows off the power. 👀
— MLB (@MLB) May 25, 2021
The Mariners are still a year or two away from truly breaking through, so there will be plenty of leeway with Kelenic this season as the team looks to morph him into a key piece of the puzzle.