Sunday, May 5, 2024

Kwan Base Percentage


I am doing this while Steven Kwan is questionable with a hamstring injury so I don't have to hold onto this custom, and this point, for like 6 weeks. 

The Guardians became a thing in 2022, and despite the fact that they've been to the postseason and have had legitimate performers, they haven't necessarily established their identity beyond what was already existing in their previous incarnation. I think of some of the early stars wearing Guardians uniforms, people like Jose Ramirez, Shane Bieber, even Andres Gimenez, and they're all people from the Indians days. You can definitely make the case that Gimenez has established himself as a premier Guardian, but I also would say that you can't really tell that story without talking about his mediocre 2021 where he was trying to find himself. 

There's really only one person who I wholly associate not only with the Guardians name, but with the Guardians' contact-first approach that's gotten them playoff time, and that is Steven Kwan. Quite possibly the last true contact machine in the bigs, in the grand tradition of Ichiro and Wade Boggs. Look at this guy go.

Already, Kwan has 47 hits, and he's hitting .353, which is third in the majors thanks to A.) Mookie Betts being incredible and B.) Alec Bohm having an inexplicably amazing April. Though the dream of the 200-hit season is very much archaic, if anyone's gonna be able to consistently hit 200, it would be Kwan, as he's become so good at just pounding hits and getting on base. Kwan also being a top tier outfielder and a two-time gold-glover helps to put him ahead of the pack, and at the front of the ledger in regards to the Guardians.

And look, while the Guardians are still a contact-friendly club, especially with Josh Naylor, Jose Ramirez and Andres Gimenez around, none of them are hitting .300. Ramirez is hitting .227, he's been honestly kinda human this year. While it is May, and a lot of these guys could heat up at any time, it's funny how...serviceable the contact game has been otherwise. 

Of course, the team is still in first place, thanks to strong, if not immaculate, starting pitching and one of the best bullpens in baseball. Even without the full emphasis on contact, this team still has Josh Naylor with 7 homers and 24 RBIs, one of the best infielders in the game in Andres Gimenez, and one of the best closers in the game in Emmanuel Clase. There are flashier teams in the AL Central, I think of the Royals and the recent Twins wins, but the Guardians are just really good, and have enough to just stay ahead of everybody else despite some flaws.

If Kwan has to miss time, that will dull them a bit, but I still think they'll be able to stay ahead of the AL Central. If losing Bieber didn't hurt them, maybe this won't either.

Coming Tomorrow- Cody Bellinger and Seiya Suzuki are hurt. Send in the Sockman. 

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