Fans are underrating a vital part of Jarred Kelenic's game

When you think of the Braves, you think of a high powered offense. Naturally, many expected Kelenic to join the party. However, he is playing is role and playing it well.
Atlanta Braves v Seattle Mariners
Atlanta Braves v Seattle Mariners / Steph Chambers/GettyImages
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When the Atlanta Braves acquired Jarred Kelenic back in December, the idea was for him to be Atlanta's every day left fielder. Alex Anthopoulos and the Braves organization saw something in him they thought could fill the void left by Eddie Rosario and Kevin Pillar.

Once spring training rolled around and Kelenic began to struggle offensively, AA quickly found a safety net in a familiar face by signing free agent Adam Duvall. As a result, Atlanta's left field situation is very similar to a season ago with a right handed and left handed bat platooning. However, Kelenic has been better than a lot of people realize.

We all know that the Atlanta Braves are known as one of the best (if not the best) offense in Major League Baseball. Although they have not performed to their potential so far in 2024, the expectations remain high. Braves fans are used to 1-9 in the lineup producing at a high level offensively, but that's not been Kelenic's strength.

While he did get off to a very hot start at the plate, Kelenic is now hitting .286 with 1 home run and 6 runs batted in. His OPS is .714. Kelenic has also struck out 27 times in his 28 games played. These numbers could be worse, but they are not Braves offense expectation level so naturally many view Jarred Kelenic as underperforming. However, he is doing something just as important as producing runs, he is excelling at preventing them.

Kelenic's defense has been underrated

Kelenic has showed off his cannon of an arm by racking up three assists already this year, as his arm ranks in 98th percentile in arm value, and averages 93.1 mph on his throws (good for ranking in the 96th percentile).

In addition to the dynamic arm, Kelenic has shown some good range in left field with numerous impressive catches including a robbed home run that preserved Chris Sale's shut out performance against the Boston Red Sox the other night.

Kelenic has a positive one mark in Outs Above Average (OAA) via Baseball Savant. This above average range coupled with his electric arm rounds Kelenic out as one of the better defenders on the Braves roster. In fact, the only starter for Atlanta to rank better than Kelenic's 90th percentile in Fielding Run Value (FRV) is shortstop Orlando Arcia (who ranks in the 96th percentile in FRV).

When evaluating the lone new guy in the lineup it's easy to focus on the offensive performance. And although that part of Kelenic's game hasn't been lighting the world on fire, that doesn't mean he has failed to contribute in 2024. All you have to do to see that is watch his talents shine in the outfield.

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