Kwan Song – List of launchers
Steven Kwan (KEY): 3-5, 2 R, SB.
So far we’ve had a really exciting season with some new talent making a name for themselves. In the AL, Julio Rodríguez and Bobby Witt Jr. led the way. Adley Rutschman’s debut has been delayed by injury, but he’s starting to make an impact for the Orioles while Jeremy Peña has done a fantastic job of filling the void left by Carlos Correa in Houston. And in the Netherlands it was the Michael Harris II show in Atlanta while the Cubs also have a pair of rookies who had a few moments with Seiya Suzuki and Christopher Morel – and that’s just to name a few- one.
He doesn’t have the pedigree of the other names mentioned as the fifth-rounder of the 2018 draft, nor the power, but let’s take a minute to highlight Cleveland’s first player, Steven Kwan. After hitting over .300 in Double A and Triple A last year, he came through as advertised and now leads all qualified rookies with a .298 batting average. Its K rate of 8.3% easily leads the peloton; teammate Ernie Clement is second among qualified rookies with a K rate of 15.0% followed by Vincent Pasquantino’s 15.2%. In OBP, the 24-year-old rookie is second at .369; Brendan Donovan leads at .396. He also had eight interceptions.
If you zoom out to include all skilled hitters, Kwan is still first in K-rate just ahead of – you guessed it – Luis Arraez at 8.4%. Kwan went off the rails in May when he hit .173 in 21 games and saw his average drop to .244. But since June 1, guess who leads all skilled hitters in batting average? Okay, that would be the monster that is Yordan Alvarez at .376 (!!). But, hey, Kwan is eighth, hitting 0.332 in that span. It may have taken a few years, but the Guardians may have found their replacement for Michael Brantley. Granted, he’s since hit double-digit home runs multiple times, and you certainly can’t predict that for Kwan at this point. But at age 24 in 2011, Brantley hit seven home runs, then six in 2012, his first season on 500 PA. So at this point in their respective careers, they might not be too far from each other.
Let’s see how the other batters fared on Friday:
Rhys Hoskins (ISP): 4-4, HR, R, 3 RBI, BB.
He opened the game with a pair of right-hand singles. In the seventh, with two goals and two outs, he hit a single into the third base hole that tied the game 2-2. He saved his best for last, throwing a two-point blast to center Duane Underwood Jr. who broke the tie in the tenth. The right-hander’s OPS now sits at .823, just in line with his career mark of .856.
Seth Brown (OAK): 2-4, 2 HR, 2 R, 2 RBI.
Brown came off the paternity list with a bang. The number one home run came on a suspended Lance Lynn slider with one out in the sixth. On his next at bat, he tagged reliever Davis Martin on a low liner that just crossed the right field fence. He leads the A’s with 14 homers, but, of course, that comes with a .228 average and a .277 OBP. But hey, someone has to run the A’s, right?
Ha Seong Kim (SOUTH DAKOTA): 2-3, HR, 2R, RBI, SB.
Kim came into last night’s contest averaging .295 over 20 games in July, although he didn’t have much power with just a .393 hitting percentage during that span. Kim’s sixth home run of the year came on a mid-mid 91 MPH heat-up from Joe Ryan in the second on what was a brutal night for the Twins starter as he allowed a total of five circuits in total. Kim came to the United States last year on the heels of a 30 home run season in the KBO and so far the power hasn’t translated; just a .658 OPS at 641 AP. Although he showed some improvements in the second year, he improved his K score from 23.8% to 18.7% while increasing his average to 0.242 after reaching 0.202.
Starling Marte (NYM): 3-5, 3B, HR, R, 3 RBI.
Marte’s two-point triple in the second against Sandy Alcantara came on a great shot as he redirected a 98 MPH lead on the outside third and clipped it the other way to the gap to the center right . Later, he victimized Alcantara again with a home run to the center. The veteran was excellent the first year with the Mets hitting .305 with an .835 OPS. Although his stolen bases are down from last year – just 12 in 83 games while being caught six times. For the Mets, Brandon Nimmo also had a takedown, his first since July 14 against the Cubs.
Judge Aaron (NYY): 3-5, 2 HR, 2 R, 6 RBI.
After hitting the game-winner the night before, he again proved the difference with 6 RBIs in the Yankees’ 11-5 win over the Royals. The Judge for the Ages season continues and he has now become the second Yankee to hit 41 homers as of the end of July. The other? Baby Ruth.
Aledmys Diaz (HU): 3-5, 2 HR, 2 R, 2 RBI.
The Astros’ utility man started the scoring with a solo home run in the second against Robbie Ray in what ended up being a blowout 11-1 victory over their division rivals, the Mariners. He hit another in garbage time in the eighth. Díaz has been valuable from a real-world standpoint for the Astros as a service man, but outside of tonight he hasn’t done much with the bat to warrant interest, hitting .240 with a .694 OPS.
austin riley (ATL): 3-4, 2 2B, HR, R, 3 RBI.
What about Riley’s July? In 24 games, he hits .427 with a 1.372 OPS. Dinger number 29 came first thanks to an 87 MPH cutter from Madison Bumgarner.
Salvador Perez (CC) : 1-4, HR, R, 3 RBI.
He is back! With the rain pouring down, Perez set course for a five-run fifth by redirecting a 99 MPH Gerrit Cole fastball 424 feet over the center field wall for home run number 12.
Will Smith (BOY): 2-3, HR, R, 2 RBI, BB.
Smith’s 435-foot blast to the left of a Chad Kuhl fastball in the first helped the Dodgers to a 5-4 win over the Rockies at Coors Field. Smith now leads all catchers with 15 homers, passing Willson Contreras at 14. Klay’s brother, Trayce Thompson, hit his fourth of the year. Meanwhile, Max Muncy’s rotten season continues; three more strikeouts, dropping his slash to .160/.308/.301. The Dodgers are apparently looks at Garrett Cooperand if that happens, it could encroach on Muncy’s playing time.
Anthony Santander (BALL): 3-4, HR, R, 2 RBIs.
Team-leading Santander’s 18th circuit puts him within a whisker of matching his career high which came in 2019 at 405 AP. He also put up a career-best .336 OBP. Santander and Trey Mancini could be potential trade candidates, so the Orioles’ roster could look different in a few days.
Speaking of potential business targets, what about JD Martinez? He is struggling with a back injury and cut 0.206/0.356/0.329 in 19 games in July. That’s not what you want to see with the deadline in a few days.
Featured image by Justin Paradis (@JustParaDesigns on Twitter)