How Steven Kwan’s Absence Has Affected the Cleveland Guardians

Steven Kwan Swinging

Recently Guardians left-fielder Steven Kwan was sidelined with a hamstring injury after making defensive play. He may not be able to return until early June. This has left some big shoes to fill as he is the lead-off hitter, has the best batting average in the American League (.353), and has the most hits of any player on the Guardians this season with 47. Jose Ramirez is second with 41 hits. This is the second major injury that Cleveland has had to deal with this season as star pitcher Shane Bieber had to have a season-ending Tommy John surgery in April.

You can’t replace somebody like that, but hopefully [he’s] back soon.

Cleveland Guardians Manager Stephen Vogt about Steven Kwan

Centerfielder and second baseman Tyler Freeman has had the most time filling in as the lead-off batter. Freeman had been hitting between sixth and eighth in the order before Kwan’s injury. For the year Freeman has a .193 batting average, 23 hits, four home runs, 21 runs, 13 RBIs, and five stolen bases. In his past five games, he’s had 16 at-bats, three hits (.187), four runs, one home run, one RBI, and three strikeouts.

Manager Stephen Vogt said, “It’s not one person needs to come in and replace him… …Similar to the pitching when we lost Biebs, the guys have stepped up.”

When writing this article, Cleveland has gone 5-4 since Kwan has been out of the lineup. Most of those losses came in the series against the Chicago White Sox. The Guardians lost three in a row before securing a win on the fourth game of the series. Cleveland is 4-3 in games against Chicago this season and has three more series yet to go. Having a player like Kwan who can reliably get on base could have been crucial in some games this last series. One game was lost by one run and another by two. Even after missing nine games, Kwan leads the team in runs with 28 (Ramirez is second with 27). One baserunner could mean the difference between winning and losing.

The Cleveland Guardians are far from giving up hope and, as Vogt said, they have stepped up in Kwan’s absence. They managed to take home the last win against the White Sox 7-0 and scored seven runs in the two games after winning 7-0 and 7-4 against the Texas Rangers. Cleveland is fortunate to have other hitters who have been able to step up when needed as well. Josh Naylor has had four hits and two home runs in his last five games. Jose Ramirez and Andres Gimenez each have five hits and one home run in their previous five games.

While not responsible for being a replacement for Steven Kwan, the Guardian’s pitching has also helped get some wins in the past few games. It’s hard to talk about Cleveland baseball without mentioning the pitching as they have played a huge role in much of their success this season. Logan Allen, Nick Sandlin, Hunter Gaddis, and Sam Hentges shut out the White Sox in Cleveland’s 7-0 win. In the game after that against the Texas Rangers Tanner Bibee, Sandlin, Gaddis, Tim Herrin, and Emmanuel Clase shut them out in another 7-0 win for Cleveland. Without the extra offensive power of Steven Kwan the Guardian’s pitching could continue to play a vital role in keeping games close and giving them a chance at winning.

The Cleveland Guardians will have to wait patiently for Steven Kwan to return. Despite missing their number-one hitter the other players have shown they can step up when Cleveland is in need. If they maintain this pace they will be on their way to a historic season.

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