Guardians outfielder Steven Kwan finishes third in AL Rookie of the Year voting
Cleveland Guardians left fielder Steven Kwan had an incredible first year in the majors, and he topped it off by finishing third in the American League Rookie of the Year voting.
Kwan made Cleveland's Opening Day roster and started the first game of the season in right field before ultimately moving to left and never relinquishing his hold on the position, and for good reason - he just won his first Gold Glove as well. This season, Kwan slashed an impressive .298/.373/.400 with six home runs, 52 RBIs, 25 doubles, seven triples, 19 stolen bases, and a 124 OPS+.
Seattle rookie outfielder Julio Rodriguez won the award in convincing fashion, garnering all but one first-place vote. Rodriguez had a fantastic first season in his own right for the Mariners, hitting .284/.345/.509 with 28 home runs, 75 RBIs, 25 doubles, 25 stolen bases, and a 147 OPS+.
Baltimore catcher Adley Rutschman, who made his debut on May 21 and also just so happened to be Kwan's teammate at Oregon State, produced a 128 OPS+, with a .254/.362/.445 line that included 13 home runs and an incredible 35 doubles.
In terms of fWAR, Rodriguez and Rutschman had an identical 5.3, while Kwan trailed just slightly behind with a 4.4. Oh, you're more of a bWAR person? Here you go: Rodriguez put together a 6.2, Rutschman had a 5.2, and Kwan actually had a 5.5, just a tick higher than Rutschman. There are plenty of other stats to look at and consider, but overall, the voters pretty much got it right. Except for the person who gave Kansas City's Bobby Witt Jr. a second-place vote, and the four people who gave him third-place votes. And even giving Houston's Jeremy Peña two third-place votes is highly, highly questionable. The top three rookies in the AL this year was about as clear-cut and obvious as you could get.
So yes, Kwan had a great rookie year, but it's clear he had some stiff competition for Rookie of the Year. Defensively, he might be superior, but it's hard to argue that Rodriguez and Rutschman didn't have better offensive debuts with their respective teams.
Still, none of that takes away from Kwan's fantastic 2022, nor does it temper one's expectations and enthusiasm for how he might be able to build upon it in 2023.