Braves' Kelenic a budding defensive star

May 11—Losing a past postseason hero like Eddie Rosario this past off-season was a tough pill to swallow if you are a diehard Atlanta Braves fan.

Rosario single handily defeated the Los Angeles Dodgers in the National League Championship Series and will always have a spot in Braves lore just for that series.

But watching one of his replacements perform during the first part of the season has been fun to see as well, however. Nobody is predicting that Jarred Kelenic will duplicate Rosario's success he found during the 2021 playoffs when this year's postseason rolls around. But with this lineup he does not have to.

Kelenic's true value is being found on defense. He is a huge upgrade in left field, flashes a tremendous glove and possesses a much stronger arm than Rosario. His defense was on display against the Red Sox on Wednesday when he robbed Boston Red Sox's Garrett Cooper of a potential home run. He leaped against the wall and made the scintillating catch near the top of the yellow line. He returned to the ground almost shocked he had made the catch.

But the Braves should not be surprised at anything this 24-year-old does in the field. He has that type of potential. He has already made three assists, 36 putouts and has yet to commit an error in 39 chances. Between Kelenic, Michael Harris Jr. in center field and Ronald Acuna Jr. in right field, the Braves may now have the top defensive outfield in the game.

That's not to say Kelenic can't bring value to the offensive end as well. Manager Brian Snitker has been smart to platoon Kelenic and Adam Duvall based on the lefty-righty matchup. It has put Kelenic in a position to succeed along a veteran presence like Duvall who is not clamoring publicly for more playing time. He understands his role.

Kelenic provides a threat at the bottom of the lineup, batting .286 with 22 hits in just 77 at-bats. His presence should cause concerns for opposing teams who feature bullpens that don't have a dependable lefty or are trying to save one for the top of the lineup.

I am not sure what Alex Anthopolous and Brian Snitker envisioned when Kelenic was acquired during the off-season, but they have to be thrilled with the results so far. His defense may be his biggest attribute, and the Braves have certainly reaped the benefits of it so far this year.