Should the Braves reward Jarred Kelenic with an everyday spot in the lineup?

Former touted prospect Jarred Kelenic may deserve an opportunity to play every day.
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It wasn’t long ago when Jarred Kelenic was a top-rated prospect. He made his much-anticipated debut in May of 2021 as a Mariner. Through his first couple of years, he had limited success at the plate though he showed some promise as a power hitter. It wasn’t until last year we saw his true potential.

In April 2023, he hit 7 HR with a .310 batting average. However, his numbers later throughout the year weren’t as glamorous. His last home run came on June 9th against Shohei Ohtani. Kelenic missed some time with a fractured foot after kicking a water cooler in July. He returned in September, but still never achieved the same success he had in April. He finished the year with 11 HR and a .253 average.

Fast forward to today. Kelenic is swinging a hot bat with an average of .319 but still has not hit a home run since June 9th of last year. He has three doubles, three RBI, seven walks, and 17 strikeouts. If there's one thing he needs to work on it's cutting down on the whiffs.

Currently, he is platooning in left field with Adam Duvall. But while Adam Duvall is a beloved slugger from Braves’ seasons past, having Kelenic as the full-time left-fielder may be a beneficial move.

Jarred Kelenic could thrive in an everyday role with the Braves

Brian Snitker is using Duvall, the righty, to face left-handers and Kelenic, the lefty, to face right-handers. It’s common sense in baseball to platoon players like this, but when examining last year's splits, Kelenic had greater success against southpaws than he did right-handers.

In 2023, through 287 at-bats against righties, he posted a slash line of .251/.330/.408 with 7 HR. In 85 at-bats against lefties, his slash line was .259/.315/.459 with 4 HR. While there is no great difference in batting average, Kelenic’s AB/HR ratio and slugging percentage seem to be a considerable improvement over lefties as opposed to righties.

For the sake of fairness, his on-base percentage was higher against right-handers by a small but noticeable margin. Still, while his numbers last year were quite inconsistent and therefore don’t allow for an accurate analysis of his splits, Kelenic may be a player who would benefit from not being platooned.

In any case, Kelenic is going to be 25 in July and hasn’t yet had a year with 400 at-bats. All things considered, he hasn’t had the chance to fully develop and live up to his full potential. If he is indeed the young, rising star he was regarded as not long ago, he should have the chance to gain the experience he needs to flourish and hopefully become a breakout star sooner rather than later.

Kelenic is off to a great start this year and, so far, has earned the opportunity to keep his bat in the lineup. Furthermore, if he can keep his batting average up and rediscover his power, the Braves will have another well-rounded slugger in their already menacing lineup. If it doesn’t work out, Snitker can always go back to platooning him. It is still very early in the season but, for now, it might be beneficial for the team to give Kelenic every chance to prove he can be that slugger.

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