Steven Kwan finishing third in the AL Rookie of the Year race was the only outcome that was ever going to happen, and expecting anything else was setting yourself up for disappointment.
All three finalists (Julio Rodriguez, Adley Rutschman, and Kwan) had phenomenal seasons — one of the best rookie classes in a while, no doubt. But in reality, it was always a two-man race between Rodriguez and Rutschman. Even then, it was really just a race to see how many first-place votes Rutschman could take away from Rodriguez — which, by the way, turned out to be one.
Kwan beat his fellow rookies in batting average and on-base percentage (.298 and .373, respectively), but when you look at any kind of stat that measures a full profile of performance, Kwan comes up short due to his lack of power. Among the finalists, he finished last in slugging percentage (.400), wRC+ (124), and fWAR (4.4).
More than anything, it just comes down to poor timing. Looking at the last several years of rookie classes, he would easily win in 2021 and 2020 and probably be a runner-up behind Yordan Álvarez in 2019. It’s just bad luck that he happened to have his breakout at the same two other great rookies did the same thing.
None of that changes how great he is, or how lucky the Guardians are to have him for most of the 2020s.
Cleveland Guardians news
Kwan finishes third in AL ROY voting | MLB
“It’s a huge honor [to be a finalist],” Kwan said on MLB Network prior to the announcement. “I didn’t really expect my role to be so big at the beginning of the year. … Just being in the same conversation as those other two guys is an extreme honor. So, definitely humbled to be here.”
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Around the league
- Free agent rumors include Anthony Rizzo and Justin Verlander.
- Julio Rodriguez is the AL Rookie of the Year.
- Michael Harris is the NL Rookie of the Year.
- The Marlins named Caroline O’Connor as president of baseball operations.
- Yasiel Puig pleaded guilty to lying about illegal betting.
- Dan Szymborski breaks down his Rookie of the Year ballot.
- The Rays released Brendan McKay.