Steven Kwan was one of the best rookies in the American League last season.
If it wasn’t for Julio Rodriguez and Adley Rutschman, there is a good chance he would have won the Rookie of the Year award.
He gave the Cleveland Guardians a really talented hitter, a stellar on-base machine, and a Gold Glove-caliber defender in the outfield.
That’s quite the package right there, and considering it came from a rookie making the league minimum, Kwan became one of the most valuables commodities in baseball.
His stellar eye at the plate gave him lots of walks and very few strikeouts.
In 638 plate appearances, he walked 62 times and struck out 60.
Imagine if he had gotten a fair treatment from umpires.
Yes: despite his already brilliant BB/K ratio, he was affected by many umpire mistakes.
“Imagine if pitchers had to throw the ball over the plate to get a strike called when Steven Kwan was batting. No left-handed MLB hitter suffered more called strikes on too-outside pitches last year and it wasn’t even close,” Codify Baseball tweeted, with a video of some egregious calls.
Imagine if pitchers had to throw the ball over the plate to get a strike called when Steven Kwan was batting. 🤔
No left-handed MLB hitter suffered more called strikes on too-outside pitches last year and it wasn't even close.
cc: @CleGuardians pic.twitter.com/IY6wvAM0zi
— Codify (@CodifyBaseball) February 15, 2023
For a hitter like Kwan, who doesn’t have a lot of power, the count is really important.
Getting ahead 2-1 will position him for a great at-bat, but falling down 1-2 is less than ideal.
This is true for all hitters in MLB, and when a strike is called on a pitch that should have been a ball, it’s extremely frustrating.
Despite the unfair situation, he was able to slash a cool .298/.373/.400 with six homers, 19 stolen bases, a 124 wRC+, and 4.4 Wins Above Replacement (WAR).
He is a true, if unconventional, star.NEXT: Video Shows Off The Guardians' Biggest Offseason Addition