Three Cleveland Guardians Who Have Overachieved So Far

Three Cleveland Guardians Who Have Overachieved So Far

Cole Paganelli
2 years ago
3 min read
Guardians outfielder rookie Steven Kwan celebrates after a walkoff home run in 2022

Even the most optimistic Cleveland Guardians fans didn’t expect their team to contend in 2022. But the re-branded Guardians are 12-13 and within striking distance of first place in the American League Central.

Baseball is a team sport, so all 26 (formerly 28) players on the major league club have contributed to Cleveland’s success in one form or another. However, while contributions from stars like Jose Ramirez are expected, a few Guardians have vastly outperformed their initial expectations.

Below are three such players who have overachieved through the first 25 games of the Guardians season.

LF Steven Kwan

When you think about players exceeding expectations, Steven Kwan might be the first name to think of for all of baseball, let alone for Cleveland.

Kwan, who entered the season as the Guardians’ 15th-best prospect according to, reached base 17 times in his first five professional games. He became the sixth player since 1901 to have a five-hit day within his first three MLB games and saw 116 pitches before swinging and missing, the most by any player to open a career since 2000.

While he’s not hitting around .700 anymore, Kwan is still racking up hits. The 24-year-old enters Friday with a .328 batting average, one of the highest on the team among qualified hitters. He also has just seven strikeouts in 64 at-bats. Considering DH Franmil Reyes has 40 Ks in 87 AB, Kwan putting the ball in play is a great sign.

Kwan has earned an everyday spot in Cleveland’s lineup. And while the left fielder won’t be a power threat, his contact-heavy approach could result in a .300+ average by season’s end.

1B Owen Miller

The Guardians relied on the uninspiring tandem of Bobby Bradley and Yu Chang to handle first base duties in 2021. This year, Owen Miller has convincingly taken the starting job.

Miller made his MLB debut last season, one year after coming over from the San Diego Padres system in the Mike Clevinger trade. His ‘21 campaign (.551 OPS in 191 AB) was concerning, but his ‘22 has been a much different story. The 25-year-old is hitting .344 in 61 AB while registering an impressive 1.015 OPS.

Aside from Miller having a higher OPS than all of Cleveland’s everyday players not named Jose Ramirez, the righty also has a team-high nine doubles. He has a hit in all but five of his games with a registered at-bat and one walk in each of his last five contests.

Even though he’s not hitting many home runs, Miller has enough extra-base power and plate discipline to be a mainstay in the Guardian lineup for the foreseeable future.

SP Triston McKenzie

Unlike Kwan and Miller, the Guardians knew Triston McKenzie would be a vital part of the team in 2022. However, he has surpassed expectations to become Cleveland’s No. 2 starter behind Shane Bieber.

While it’s still early, McKenzie’s numbers resemble his shortened 2020 debut than his disappointing ‘21 campaign. The 24-year-old has a 2.70 ERA in 23.1 innings pitched. More impressively, he has 24 strikeouts with just seven walks and one homer. For reference, the hard-throwing righty had 58 BB and 21 HR across 120.0 innings last season.

McKenzie is growing more comfortable as the season moves along. Since his first start on April 13, T-Mac has gone deeper into each passing start, upping his pitch count along the way. He threw a season-high 96 pitches across 6.1 shutout innings in his most recent start, striking out seven batters in Cleveland’s 7-3 win over the Oakland Athletics.

Other starting pitchers — namely Cal Quantrill and Aaron Civale — have struggled in the first month of action. For Cleveland’s sake, here’s hoping McKenzie continues to shine.

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