What can you say about the Cleveland Guardians after one weekend of baseball? Almost nothing. They’re 1-2 and they had a very good game on Sunday. Anything more granular is silly.
So, let’s be silly.
Your fWAR leader as of Monday morning? Steven Kwan, of course. But it’s not just the 0.6 fWAR he’s already compiled — he also leads the league in K% (0, duh), average (.800), on-base percentage (.857), and wOBA (.770). He’s destined for the Hall of Fame, is what I’m saying.
You can read more about his record-breaking debut elsewhere, because on a more serious note there is something that will stabilize more quickly and it’s the tiny, almost afterthought on this graphic:
When we’re talking sample sizes after one weekend of play, almost all data come from tiny samples. The most numerous group of data, however, are pitches seen, and the 58 that Kwan has seen are hopefully instructive because the numbers look just as good as those gaudy and unsustainable stats mentioned previously.
Strikeout percentage stands out, obviously, but it shouldn’t be surprising that Kwan has not struck out so far in 14 plate appearances. In 603 college plate appearances, Kwan logged only 50 strikeouts, or a strikeout in 8.3% of plate appearances. Likewise, in 947 minor league plate appearances he only struck out 87 times, or in 9.2% of plate appearances.
Going deeper, Kwan has shown remarkable patience — especially for a rookie — while at the plate. Overall, Kwan has swung at just 32.8% of pitches thrown to him (13th lowest in MLB) and is already showing his incredible grasp of the strike zone, as he has swung at pitches outside the zone just 12.9% of the time (ninth-lowest in MLB). In addition to his patience, it’s clear Kwan has a firm grasp of his ability, as he is only swinging at pitches he knows he can hit: his contact rate on pitches he’s swung at outside the zone is 100% and his swinging strike rate is 0%.
The hype around Kwan is certainly a lot right now, but it’s certainly deserved as well. When that fades, however, it appears the Guardians have a player with a remarkable hit tool. This is something evaluators have long keyed in on — for example, FanGraphs rated his hit tool 70 current with 80 future value — but to see him come in and perform to expectations immediately is beyond thrilling.
We’ll have to continue to watch the data as the sample grows larger, but the early returns are incredible. Kwan does not miss, and the Guardians lineup looks great with him in it.