After a rather sluggish start of the season, Seattle Mariners slugger Jarred Kelenic has been on fire in the last two weeks.
Over that timeframe, he owns a .341 batting average and a 1.258 OPS, and his entire home run tally of the year: six.
On Sunday against the St. Louis Cardinals, he hit his sixth home run of the year, an opposite-field drive that traveled a projected 357 feet.
In two years before 2023, Kelenic received ample opportunities to establish himself in the big leagues, failing each and every time and forcing the Mariners to send him to Triple-A on multiple occasions.
In fact, he was so bad in 2021 and 2022 at the MLB level that even though he is slashing .319/.377/.667 in the early stages of the 2023 regular season, his overall line as a major leaguer is a paltry .186/.266/.378.
He worked hard in the offseason and the spring to correct some mechanical issues, and that work is paying off.
Jarred Kelenic’s New Plate Approach Is 🔥
– 18% Barrel Rate
– .311 xBA / .688 xSLG (99th percentile)
– 58% Hard Hit Rate
– Career Best 26% K rate, 22.7% Chase Rate, 23.9% Whiff Rate 🚨
– 96th Percentile xwOBA#SeaUsRise #FantasyBaseball
— Blake Meyer (@Buhhlockaye) April 24, 2023
He is barreling the ball often, and that is leading to excellent results.
For reference, barrel is the ideal type of batted ball based on exit velocity and launch angle.
Kelenic is having career-bests in hard-hit rate (percentage of balls hit at 95 mph or more) and is chasing fewer pitches outside of the strike zone.
Basically, he has made improvements across the board: he is more disciplined, he is making more contact, and that contact is louder than ever.
The real challenge would be maintaining this level, or something close to it, for the entire season.
Doing that would certify his breakout, and he is certainly capable.NEXT: MLB Writer Notes A Major Concern For Julio Rodriguez