Welcome to the Corner Chronicles — a weekly dive into what happened this week in Cleveland Guardians baseball, from the deep dingers to the decisions that shape the team.
Even if this wasn’t technically the first week as the “Guardians,” I would have no trouble saying that this has been one of the most exciting opening weeks in Cleveland Guardians history.
Sure, the first two games started looking like the same old offense that hasn’t been improved upon in years, but then something magical happened. They started hitting. Steven Kwan became a sensation. Owen Miller became a doubles machine. Suddenly the Guardians were at the center of the baseball discussion and they were an offensive machine. Grand slams, stolen bases, stellar pitching performances. The first week of baseball has been all about the Cleveland Guardians, and they haven’t even played at home yet.
Kwan’s emergence in particular caught the interest of the national media, prompting some great stories about how he does what he does.
Whether or not this is the doing of first-year hitting coach Chris Valaika is something that we will probably never be able to know fully. Maybe he worked some magic to help Miller — who rushed to work with Valaika after the lockout ended in February — but he also couldn’t seem to fix Bobby Bradley or Yu Chang’s bats, either, and Franmil Reyes is a man in distress at the plate right now. Knowing the impact of a coach from the outside is a tricky thing, but at least we know he exists.
Three Guardians batters finished this first week with 20 plate appearances and at least a 287 wRC+. Kwan didn’t miss for 116-straight pitches, José Ramírez already has three home runs and a grand slam. Myles Straw is an on-base machine. As a team, the Guardians scored double-digit runs in three-straight games. The offense is clicking, to say the least.
And to top it all off, on Thursday night the Guardians made José Ramírez’s long-rumored contract extension official. The deal, as expected, will keep him in Cleveland through 2028 with team options and includes a full no-trade clause. The Guardians will owe Ramírez just $141 million between now and then — an absolute bargain for a perennial MVP candidate. But José made it clear — before, during, and after negotiations — that he wanted Cleveland to be his home.
Welcome home, José.
Swing And A Scoreboard
Thursday, April 7: Guardians 1, Royals 3
Here we go again, huh? Same old early-season Cleveland can’t hit. The Guardians era started with a whimper as they were shut down by an ageless Zack Greinke. Shane Bieber should have been the shining light on an otherwise dreary day, but even he showed cause for concern with a fastball stuck at 90. Bryan Shaw showed up too, and some rookie named Steven Kwan made his MLB debut with a single. Not bad, but I’m sure he won’t get much playing time.
Saturday, April 9: Guardians 0, Royals 1
By the end of Saturday’s 1-0 loss to the Royals, the Guardians had only scored one run in 18 innings. Right on par for how we thought their offense would look. That Steven Kwan guy made a nice play in the outfield and recorded a pair of hits, but the real star rookie in this game was Bobby Witt Jr. It was a rough watch, deemed by Dear Brother Recapper Matt Schlichting as a defensive showcase, which was definitely true. But also painful.
Sunday, April 10: Guardians 17, Royals 3
All hail Steven Kwan. The hype train that started at a rumble preseason kicked into full gear as the rookie went 5-for-5 in the Guardians’ big Sunday win over the Royals. The number of pitches he had seen to this point without swinging and missing was also enough to be A Big Deal. This was the definition of a cathartic game in the third game of the season. Quantrill induced the weak contact he’s supposed to, Oscar Mercado hit a grand slam, José Ramírez did José Ramírez things, and Steven Kwan proved he is made of pure baseball-hitting energy.
Monday, April 11: Guardians 10, Royals 4
Steven Kwan added to his impressive start with two more walks and a triple in the Guardians’ 10-4 win over the Royals. Owen Miller, too, started to make some noise as a contact hitter with ... power? Aaron Civale looked a bit shaky, as did the defense, but they came away with a big win anyway thanks to the offense.
Steven Kwan reached base 15 times in our 4-game series against the Royals, the most times in a player's first 4 career games since at least 1901.— Cleveland Guardians (@CleGuardians) April 11, 2022
We present ... The Kwan-Base Reel.#ForTheLand pic.twitter.com/o2xgVRtex9
Tuesday, April 12: Guardians 10, Reds 5
For the third-straight game, the Guardians scored double-digit runs. And for the fifth-straight game, Steven Kwan just did not miss. Shane Bieber was perfect through four innings, but eventually was pulled when his control started to slip. That didn’t matter, though, because offense. Big boom offense go boom.
Wednesday, April 13: Guardians 7, Reds 3
The Guardians failed to score 10 runs and Steven Kwan swung and missed on a pitch. It was panic in the streets of Cleveland. Just kidding, they steamrolled the Reds again thanks to Owen Miller’s two home runs and a continually impressive offense. Triston McKenzie and Eli Morgan combined to pitch a gem, save for a solo home run here and there. The win guaranteed at least a slice of the Ohio Cup for the Guards in 2022. They go for the decisive victory or sweep in of the Reds at home next month.
Corner Clippings: The News & Analysis That Mattered
- Owen Miller has doubles vision, by Merritt Rohlfing
- Steven Kwan does not miss, by Chris D. Davies
- Guardians extend Myles Straw with club options through 2028, by Matt Schlichting
Three Big Things: The Week’s Biggest Dongs
Andres Gimenez, 421 feet
Just as you probably expected, dear reader, it was Andres Gimenez who hit the furthest home run of the week for the Guardians. The 421-foot bomb broke a 4-4 time in the top of the ninth inning.
José Ramírez, 406 feet
José Ramírez poured it on with this opposite-field home run in the top of the fourth with a runner on against the Reds Wednesday. The Guardians took a 5-0 lead and never looked back.
Oscar Mercado, 403 feet
Following up on his grand slam Sunday, Oscar Mercado extended the Guardians’ 2-1 lead in the fourth inning on Monday with this two-run shot.