Steven Kwan is taking Major League Baseball by storm.
The Guardians’ rookie outfielder is off to one of the best starts to a career — statistically — in baseball history.
Kwan followed up a historic Sunday — in which he went 5-for-5 and reached base six times in his third career major league game — with another history-making effort on Monday.
Kwan through four games has become the first player since at least 1901 to reach base 15 times in that span, according to Sarah Langs of mlb.com. That is such a torrid pace that extrapolated to 162 games, he’d reach base 607 times. And at one point on Monday, he had reached base in nine consecutive at-bats.
Steven Kwan hasn’t had a single swing-and-miss
Kwan is also one of only three qualified hitters (Eloy Jimenez, Ryan Jeffers) to not yet have a single swing-and-miss, and he’s the only one who has done so with at least 20 swings (26). He also didn’t strike out during spring training, meaning he hasn’t struck out as a professional since Sept. 26 of last season with Triple-A Columbus.
In Sunday’s game, he became the sixth player since at least 1901 to record a five-hit game within his first three career games and just the second since World War II, joining Yermin Mercedes (2021), Cecil Travis (1933), Red Massey (1918), Jack Dalton (1910) and Judge McCredie (1903). He reached base six times in that game, as he was also hit by a pitch.
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Kwan through four games is now hitting .692 with an OPS of 1.789. Through four games, a 24-year-old rookie outfielder getting his first taste of the majors has been baseball’s most productive hitter.
How Steven Kwan made up for a mistake in the field during the season opener
Monday’s game offered the first glimpse of Kwan making a mistake, though he almost immediately made up for it at the plate. A defensive miscue in which Kwan couldn’t catch a fly ball in left field brought home a run for the Royals.
The next time he stepped to the plate, which happened to be with the bases loaded, Kwan roped a bases-clearing triple to right field that ended up being the difference in Monday’s win. The storybook beginning to his career continued.
The Royals have tried multiple approaches as to how to attack Kwan. None of worked. And even Kwan’s rookie mistake only led to his biggest hit thus far.
“He was doing to do it a little too quick and it hit the heel of his glove, but then his at-bat was terrific,” manager Terry Francona told reporters in Kansas City. “They tried to elevate yesterday. They tried to throw him off-speed today. His at-bats are really, really good. That’s stating the obvious. I bet there’s a lot of player development people who have their chest out right now, as they should. And I know we’re four games in, but every single one of them kept saying ‘Hey, he’s going to be OK, man.’ So I know they’re proud.”
As far as what it means moving forward: Kwan is obviously not going to continue to hit .692 forever. But until his fortunes reverse just as severely as what he’s shown so far, he has his place in the No. 2 spot in the lineup. It means that for the time being, the Guardians have Myles Straw locked into center field and Kwan in one of the corner outfield spots. That leaves the other spot to Oscar Mercado, Amed Rosario and Josh Naylor, once he’s able to return from an injury — though Naylor could also time at first base with Bobby Bradley struggling to get going. All of a sudden, at least in the short run, the Guardians’ outfield has some answers.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism