Steven Kwan

Steven Kwan

Height: 5-9
Weight: 175 lbs
Age: 24
College: Oregon State
Cleveland Indians

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The ScoreMLB Power Rankings: Astros surging, Jays hit skids

Welcome to the fourth edition of theScore's MLB Power Rankings for the 2022 season.1. New York Yankees Record Last 10 RD Previous Rank (Change) 25-9 7-3 +69 3 (+2) The Yankees continue to fire on all cylinders. New York owns the best record in baseball, thanks to an offense ranking first in wRC+. Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton are becoming the Empire State's version of the Bash Brothers, while Anthony Rizzo continues to look like a bargain re-sign. The pitching has also been stellar, with New York's starters owning an AL-best 2.93 ERA and the bullpen also leading the Junior Circuit by WAR, according to FanGraphs.2. New York Mets Record Last 10 RD Previous Rank (Change) 23-13 5-5 +35 2 (-) There hasn't been much movement with the Mets in the last two weeks. However, Pete Alonso's bat came alive. The star slugger has recorded five multi-hit games this month with four homers and 12 RBIs to go along with a 1.025 OPS. On the flip side, Francisco Lindor has come back down to Earth slightly. He's registered just eight hits in the same period with a pair of long balls. New York will need both guys at their best to reach its full potential.3. Los Angeles Dodgers Record Last 10 RD Previous Rank (Change) 21-12 5-5 +70 1 (-2) It wasn't a pretty week in Tinseltown for the Dodgers as they dropped series to the Pirates and Phillies. Despite the losses, the bigger concern is Clayton Kershaw's injury. The 34-year-old is optimistic he'll spend the minimum 15 days on the injured list. But it's hard not to worry about his absence extending beyond two weeks with his recent injury history. With Andrew Heaney also on the shelf, Los Angeles is suddenly looking very thin in the rotation and will need its vaunted lineup to carry the club to victories after recently dropping two of three to the lowly Pirates and only winning a pair of games in the last seven.4. Los Angeles Angels Record Last 10 RD Previous Rank (Change) 24-13 7-3 +57 7 (+3) The big question entering the season was whether the Angels had enough pitching to contend in the AL West. The early returns are very promising as Los Angeles ranks inside MLB's top five in ERA (3.17). Shohei Ohtani is leading the pack atop the rotation. But strong contributions from free-agent signings Noah Syndergaard and Michael Lorenzen combined with positive results from young arms Patrick Sandoval and Reid Detmers should have Angels fans feeling good about the team's prospects moving forward.5. Houston Astros Record Last 10 RD Previous Rank (Change) 23-12 9-1 +40 13 (+8) The Astros took a big jump thanks to an 11-game winning streak. Yordan Alvarez and Justin Verlander played significant roles in the surge. Alvarez went deep five times with a 1.071 OPS during the stretch. Meanwhile, Verlander looks like he hasn't missed a beat after coming back from Tommy John surgery, giving up just two earned runs over 14 2/3 innings during his team's hot stretch. He owns a 1.55 ERA in six starts this season.6. Milwaukee Brewers Record Last 10 RD Previous Rank (Change) 22-13 5-5 +28 6 (-) It's been quite a week for the Brew Crew. Josh Hader broke another saves record, and Christian Yelich hit for his third career cycle. After two down years, the former NL MVP is showing glimpses of his 2018-19 dominance. Yelich either leads or ranks second among qualified Milwaukee players in average, OBP, wRC+, and WAR, while Hader looks untouchable yet again with zero runs allowed and a 0.57 WHIP over 13 consecutive saves to start the year.7. San Francisco Giants Record Last 10 RD Previous Rank (Change) 20-14 6-4 +33 5 (-2) The Giants are quietly taking care of business in a similar fashion to last season. It'll never be particularly flashy, but San Francisco has built an extremely well-balanced roster that consistently applies tremendous pressure on opponents. LaMonte Wade Jr.'s return has been a welcome one for the Giants. The 28-year-old is giving the club a jolt, registering a 136 wRC+ through his first eight games of the campaign.8. San Diego Padres Record Last 10 RD Previous Rank (Change) 22-13 6-4 +16 8 (-) Manny Machado is an early-season NL MVP favorite thanks to a blazing start. The five-time All-Star leads the majors in batting average (.359), OBP (.443), WAR (2.8), and is second in OPS (1.029). It'll also be interesting to see if Robinson Cano has anything left in the tank as a bench player/designated hitter.9. Tampa Bay Rays Record Last 10 RD Previous Rank (Change) 21-14 6-4 -1 10 (+1) The Rays closed the gap on the Yankees and leaped past the Blue Jays in the standings after winning three of their four series in May. With upcoming sets against the Tigers, Marlins, and Rangers, things should only get easier for them. A four-game showdown with the Yankees near the end of the month should be a true test of how good this club is. Still, Tampa Bay's annual process of winning without stars continues to be successful.10. Minnesota Twins Record Last 10 RD Previous Rank (Change) 20-15 5-5 +12 9 (-1) The Twins are scuffling a little bit as injuries mount to their core roster. Minnesota is without Carlos Correa, Miguel Sano, and Chris Paddack, and it's managing the workload of Byron Buxton, who is hampered by a knee issue. Still, the Twins sit atop the AL Central thanks to recent contributions from Royce Lewis and Jorge Polanco. A soft upcoming schedule should help keep a gap between them and the White Sox while their stars heal.11. Toronto Blue Jays Record Last 10 RD Previous Rank (Change) 18-17 3-7 -15 4 (-7) It's been a rough stretch for the Blue Jays, who ended a five-game skid in Tampa over the weekend. They still haven't won a series in May on top of losing nine of 12. This month has been ugly for the Blue Jays' bullpen, with their conglomerate posting an 8.0 strikeout-minus-walk ratio (which ranks third-last) and negative-1.19 win probability added. Toronto's offense has also struggled the entire season, ranking dead last with a .562 OPS and dismal .185 AVG.12. St. Louis Cardinals Record Last 10 RD Previous Rank (Change) 19-15 5-5 +37 12 (-) The Cardinals need more from Steven Matz. St. Louis handed the lefty a four-year, $44-million deal in free agency, but the 30-year-old has struggled to a 6.40 ERA through seven starts. On the offensive side of the ball, outfielder Juan Yepez looks like a keeper. The 24-year-old slugger is off to a torrid start in his rookie campaign, posting a 193 wRC+ with a pair of home runs in his first 11 games.13. Chicago White Sox Record Last 10 RD Previous Rank (Change) 16-17 6-4 -30 18 (+5) The White Sox are getting healthier, and the wins are coming too. The South Siders won seven of nine before running into the buzzsaw Yankees. Luis Robert has been in fine form since returning from a groin strain, and Tim Anderson is making an early push for another batting title. Losing Lucas Giolito to COVID-19 came at a bad time, but playing 10 of their next 14 games against sub-.500 teams should help supplement losing their ace.14. Philadelphia Phillies Record Last 10 RD Previous Rank (Change) 17-18 6-4 +18 15 (+1) Despite being unable to play the outfield due to a small tear in his right elbow, Bryce Harper continues to mash out of the DH spot for the Phillies. The lineup is one of the toughest in baseball, ranking fifth in home runs (44), third in runs scored (172), and sixth in wRC+ (112). If the pitching can be even league average, the Phillies should soon be able to apply pressure on the Mets in the NL East.15. Atlanta Braves Record Last 10 RD Previous Rank (Change) 16-19 5-5 -14 14 (-1) The defending champions haven't found their footing yet. Atlanta sits 17th in offensive rating, according to FanGraphs, while the pitchers have posted a weak 4.15 ERA despite strong peripherals. The club has also played most of the season without Ronald Acuna Jr., who's currently sidelined again with a groin injury. The best is yet to come for the Braves.16. Seattle Mariners Record Last 10 RD Previous Rank (Change) 16-19 4-6 -8 11 (-5) The Mariners lost nine of 13 games and have dropped in the rankings as a result. Compounding matters, they've demoted former top prospect Jarred Kelenic after he slashed .140/.219/.291 in 30 contests to start the season. Right-hander Logan Gilbert also returned to Earth, giving up seven earned runs over his last two starts after surrendering two in his first five games combined.17. Arizona Diamondbacks Record Last 10 RD Previous Rank (Change) 18-17 6-4 -15 26 (+9) The D-Backs appear to have a real formidable duo atop the rotation in right-handers Zac Gallen and Merrill Kelly. Both hurlers have already amassed 1.2 WAR with sub-2.00 ERAs. Offensively, Daulton Varsho looks like an extremely valuable piece as he can play catcher and outfield while possessing an intriguing blend of power and speed.18. Cleveland Guardians Record Last 10 RD Previous Rank (Change) 16-17 6-4 +5 22 (+4) The Guardians entered 2022 with low expectations, but they're playing better than advertised due to contributions from the always-stellar Jose Ramirez and a bunch of surprises. Steven Kwan and Owen Miller got off to torrid starts to begin the year, but it's been Josh Naylor and Andres Gimenez stepping up lately. The pair have combined for five homers, 12 runs, 24 RBIs, and 1.4 WAR in 78 plate appearances this month. Franmil Reyes has also woken up, posting a .333 batting average and 154 wRC+ over his past 11 games.19. Colorado Rockies Record Last 10 RD Previous Rank (Change) 17-17 3-7 -28 19 (-) Colorado's early-season success was quickly exposed at the hands of a three-game sweep by the Giants. It shouldn't surprise that the Rockies rank in the top 15 in MLB in homers and runs scored since they play half of their games at Coors Field. Consequently, the pitching has been taxed yet again. Rockies hurlers rank 29th in ERA (4.91) and dead last in strikeout rate (17.9%).20. Miami Marlins Record Last 10 RD Previous Rank (Change) 15-19 3-7 +10 17 (-3) It's been a lackluster stretch for the Marlins, who have lost 11 of 14, including five of six to the D-Backs. After signing him to a four-year deal in the offseason, Miami is getting absolutely nothing from Avisail Garcia (.211/.244/.289). Jorge Soler, another big-ticket addition by the Marlins, is producing a .188 batting average and 0.2 WAR. To make things worse, Jesus Luzardo, who finally seemed to be breaking out, went on the IL with a forearm strain, which is always a red-flag injury for a pitcher.21. Boston Red Sox Record Last 10 RD Previous Rank (Change) 13-21 3-7 -12 16 (-5) Things have been so woeful at Fenway Park that manager Alex Cora shaved his beard in hopes of sparking something in his team. Boston has since won four of six, but it still sits last in the AL East behind the Orioles. If things don't turn around, Xander Bogaerts could be gone by midseason. Trade rumors involving the three-time All-Star are starting to surface.22. Baltimore Orioles Record Last 10 RD Previous Rank (Change) 14-21 5-5 -31 25 (+3) The Orioles have a 7-7 record this month thanks to some pretty good baseball. Bruce Zimmermann leads the way for the pitchers, allowing just six earned runs over 17 innings during the stretch. The left-hander owns a 2.72 ERA with a 1.21 WHIP this season and is emerging as the club's No. 1 starter with John Means out for the rest of the campaign.23. Texas Rangers Record Last 10 RD Previous Rank (Change) 14-19 5-5 -13 24 (+1) It's been a winning month for the Rangers so far, and their victories haven't been cakewalks either. Texas took two games from the Phillies before playing well against the Yankees in New York. Brad Miller's and Eli White's recent performances have helped, but the Rangers' biggest surprise might be Martin Perez. The southpaw was terrific Sunday in a win against the Red Sox, lowering his ERA to 2.01 - sixth-best in the AL among qualified starters.24. Oakland Athletics Record Last 10 RD Previous Rank (Change) 15-22 5-5 -19 23 (-1) With Ramon Laureano's return from suspension, the Athletics may now possess one of the most athletic outfield duos in the league in Laureano and Cristian Pache. Those two could save the team a handful of runs throughout the rest of the season. However, there are some real concerns about Oakland's ability to score runs. The A's rank 27th in home runs (22), 25th in runs scored (122), and dead last in wRC+ (77).25. Chicago Cubs Record Last 10 RD Previous Rank (Change) 13-20 4-6 -11 20 (-5) It shouldn't be a reason to panic, but Seiya Suzuki has hit the skids of late following a torrid start to his rookie campaign. The talented Japanese outfielder is hitting a paltry .170/.228/.283 with zero homers and three RBIs over his past 15 games. Perhaps more discouraging is the 19-to-4 strikeout-to-walk ratio during that stretch. Pitchers were always going to adjust; can Suzuki minimize those weaknesses?26. Detroit Tigers Record Last 10 RD Previous Rank (Change) 12-23 4-6 -33 21 (-5) The Tigers lost 10 of 12 games before winning a series against the Orioles. Detroit's biggest issue this season has been a toothless offense. The club's hitters own the second-worst slugging percentage in the majors while going deep an MLB-worst 16 times with their home games at cavernous Comerica. The struggles have caused 2021 breakout Akil Baddoo to get sent down already, and Spencer Torkelson might be next if he can't lift his 68 wRC+. The team isn't this bad, but a horrible start might be the difference at the end of the year for a group with playoff aspirations.27. Kansas City Royals Record Last 10 RD Previous Rank (Change) 12-20 4-6 -43 27 (-) Despite finally connecting on his first homer of the season, Whit Merrifield continues to rank as one of the worst hitters in baseball in 2022. The two-time All-Star owns a 32 wRC+, better than only two other qualified hitters. Zack Greinke is also still among baseball's most interesting players to watch, but for increasingly odd reasons. The 38-year-old somehow finds himself pitching to an impressive 3.52 ERA despite a laughably low and league-worst 8.9% strikeout rate.28. Washington Nationals Record Last 10 RD Previous Rank (Change) 12-24 3-7 -36 28 (-) When will Juan Soto get some help? Seven of his eight homers this season have come with nobody on base. The 2021 NL MVP runner-up isn't getting much from Nelson Cruz. The 41-year-old slugger finally looks like he's at the end of his road, slashing .194/.279/.298 through 33 games.29. Pittsburgh Pirates Record Last 10 RD Previous Rank (Change) 15-19 5-5 -56 29 (-) The Pirates have a winning record in May thanks to the offensive prowess of Ben Gamel and Daniel Vogelbach. Seven multi-hit games this month, including two three-hit contests, have pushed Gamel to an .816 OPS. Vogelbach has gone deep three times this month to add to his team-leading total of six. File 'taking two of three over the Dodgers in May' as Pyrrhic victories this team can look back on when they hit the century mark in losses.30. Cincinnati Reds Record Last 10 RD Previous Rank (Change) 9-26 6-4 -65 30 (-) The Reds went 6-4 following a dreadful 3-22 start to their season. Brandon Drury has come out of nowhere to pick up the offense with Joey Votto and Jonathan India sidelined. The veteran has seven round-trippers with an .854 OPS. Meanwhile, Connor Overton has been a spark for a struggling rotation. The right-hander posted a 1.59 ERA with 1.05 WHIP across three starts.Copyright © 2022 Score Media Ventures Inc. All rights reserved. Certain content reproduced under license.

Source: The Score
Monday, May 16, 2022

The ScoreMLB roundtable: Burning questions around baseball

With the opening month in the books, theScore's MLB editors answer some of the biggest questions around the game.Which team has exceeded your expectations 1 month into the season? Jamie Squire / Getty Images Sport / GettyNew York YankeesMaybe this says more about misplaced doubt in the Bronx Bombers, but it would've been difficult to find someone before the season who expected the Yankees to be the single best team in the American League. First in the Junior Circuit to 20 wins and pummeling opponents with an AL-best plus-49 run differential (behind only the Dodgers), they've been unbelievable. Perhaps most surprising about their dominance is how great the pitching has been. Entering the season with quite a few question marks beyond Gerrit Cole, Nestor Cortes Jr. has looked like an early Cy Young contender - though with less innings than the top guys - while Jordan Montgomery and Jameson Taillon have also been great. Even further, Michael King and Clay Holmes have been arguably the best relievers in baseball so far. In a division expected to be dominated by the Blue Jays and Rays, the Yankees certainly won't be a pushover. - Michael BradburnArizona DiamondbacksThe D-Backs may sit last in the NL West, but they're above .500 after losing 110 games last season. The club's starting pitching has simply been outstanding, accruing the ninth-best fWAR in the majors thus far. The trio of Merrill Kelly, Madison Bumgarner, and Zac Gallen have given up a combined 12 earned runs over 89 1/3 innings. In particular, Kelly has yet to surrender a homer over six starts. The playoffs are probably out of the question for this group. However, things don't look as dire as they once did. - Tom RuminskiCleveland GuardiansThe Guardians era is off to a great start. Cleveland is hanging around in the AL Central thanks to a red-hot offense that ranks third in the majors in WAR. This unit goes well beyond Jose Ramirez: youngsters Owen Miller and Steven Kwan have been revelations for Terry Francona's club, while Josh Naylor's also hit well since returning from last year's leg injury. The pitchers have certainly done their share as well, helping them post a plus-13 run differential - second in the division. Maybe this isn't a top-five offensive team over 162 games, but these Guardians are certainly showing they won't go down without a fight. It's been fun watching this young group jell early on, and if they do stay in the race, they could be one of the summer's best and brightest stories. - Simon Sharkey-GotliebWhich team has disappointed the most? Winslow Townson / Getty Images Sport / GettyBoston Red SoxAfter coming within two wins of the World Series last season, the Red Sox are off to a disastrous start in 2022. The offense looks anemic, while ace Chris Sale is yet to make a start and doesn't look likely to return for at least another month. The early returns on the six-year, $140-million contract given to second baseman Trevor Story are not good. The 29-year-old is without a home run and has already found himself on the receiving end of some boos at Fenway Park. It's far too early to write off a team with this much talent, but if the Red Sox don't get their act together soon, they might be forced to have some uncomfortable conversations as we creep closer to the trade deadline. - Josh Goldberg Detroit TigersThe Tigers came into the year with postseason aspirations following a surprising 77-win campaign and a great offseason. However, Detroit doesn't look close to being a playoff contender after winning just eight of 28 contests to start the season. Only the abysmal Reds have a worse winning percentage. The No. 1 culprit behind the dreadful start has been the offense. The team has the second-lowest offensive rating in baseball, according to FanGraphs. The core of the problem is a serious power outage, with an MLB-worst 11 long balls. - RuminskiAtlanta BravesIt's not that there haven't been bright spots in Atlanta. Max Fried and Kyle Wright have both been spectacular atop the rotation, Kenley Jansen's looked like his old self, and Ronald Acuna Jr. finally returned to action. But the Braves have also been inconsistent, failing to win more than two games in a row while sporting a minus-3 run differential. They've received little in the way of outfield production; Marcell Ozuna, Adam Duvall, and Eddie Rosario have either struggled mightily or are injured, making Acuna's return even more of a blessing. The rotation behind Fried and Wright has also been iffy, especially veteran Charlie Morton. The Braves do have time on their side, but holding onto second place by mere percentage points while sitting below .500 is not where the defending champions expected to be after one month. - Sharkey-GotliebChicago White SoxNow, they're still likely to win the division and are coming off a six-game win streak. However, some early season hardships have definitely exposed a few weaknesses that may linger. First, the pitching depth is getting tested and, frankly, failing. Every team needs injury depth, but Dallas Keuchel turning into a pumpkin with a 6.86 ERA over five starts certainly complicates things. Especially since they've already had to rely on Jimmy Lambert and Vince Velasquez for seven starts. More importantly, the lineup and defense has looked awful. Beyond Tim Anderson, Luis Robert, and Andrew Vaughn (who is now sidelined), the White Sox have trotted out way too many easy outs. Of course, that's compounded by early injuries to Eloy Jimenez and Yoan Moncada (who has now returned), but A.J. Pollock, Leury Garcia, and Yasmani Grandal have looked downright terrible. - BradburnSellers: which player will be traded first? Quinn Harris / Getty Images Sport / GettyWillson ContrerasThe Cubs' dismal April put any lingering hope of a quick retool to rest, and Contreras is their best trade chip. He's certainly doing his part to help the Cubs get a good return: Contreras' 148 wRC+ leads all qualified catchers. While he will be a free agent this winter, the chance to acquire one of the best catchers with championship experience should have contenders lining up to make Jed Hoyer an offer. I could see contenders in desperate need of catching striking quickly in hopes of adding Contreras well before the deadline. - Sharkey-GotliebFrankie MontasIt's surprising the Athletics haven't already dealt the right-hander after their offseason fire sale. Oakland has lost nine of 10 following a respectable start to the season. Montas should be the best starter available for a contender looking for an early season boost or an injury replacement. The 29-year-old is arbitration-eligible through 2023 and owns a 3.83 ERA with 9.4 K/9 in his seven-year career. - RuminskiTyler Mahle The Reds don't have much to sell off at this point, but Mahle might be the most intriguing of the few names. The righty broke out last year, posting a 3.75 ERA and 3.80 FIP over 33 starts while really finding an elite strikeout touch, posting a 27.7% K rate (ninth-best in the NL last year). This season, the earned run average doesn't look especially good so far, but the peripherals are decent. He still needs to work on his tendency for giving up walks, but the deadened ball seems to be suppressing his home run issues. - BradburnWhat is the biggest problem MLB is facing this season? Duane Burleson / Getty Images Sport / GettyUmpiringCheck your eyes, Blue! Umpires have been hearing it from players, coaches, and fans early on. And rightfully so. The inconsistent strike zone has been maddening and umps aren't doing a good job convincing MLB that robots aren't the solution. There have been plenty of ejections so far, but Kyle Schwarber's nuclear meltdown on Angel Hernandez felt like the entire sport collectively losing its cool. Dan Bellino's actions toward Bumgarner were even more bizarre. Baiting a player into a heated exchange isn't a good look, especially with all the other controversy that seems to be following umps around these days. - RuminskiThe deadened ballHonestly, the product doesn't suffer because of the dip in home runs. Some folks like it that way. Some folks hate it that way. There's always going to be a debate. What sucks is the players simply are not prepared for these sudden changes, and the product does suffer when players are outspoken about them. We've got pitchers complaining about their lack of grip on the ball causing more hit-by-pitches; we've got hitters acting like they've hit no-doubters just to watch it get caught by an outfielder standing short of the warning track. When discourse around a sport is more about the commissioner's constant tinkering causing yet another potential scandal - as it so often is with baseball - it's ridiculous. More transparency could easily solve this. - BradburnToo many channelsThere's nothing inherently wrong with the league's new streaming deals, or broadcasting exclusive games on YouTube - this appears to be the future of sports broadcasting, after all. But MLB is starting to spread it too far. Exclusive weekly deals with Peacock and AppleTV+, or the Yankees' new contract with Amazon Prime, make it harder for fans of all ages to find games, especially when they're not available on a regular MLBTV subscription. Adding to the insanity is MLB's refusal to do away with its unbelievably out-of-date regional blackout policy on its own streaming service; fans in some states are blacked out from at least six different teams, meaning they can't watch almost half the league on a given night. MLB can change everything about its on-field product and it won't make a difference if the league continues to make it needlessly difficult for fans to access the sport. - Sharkey-GotliebCopyright © 2022 Score Media Ventures Inc. All rights reserved. Certain content reproduced under license.

Source: The Score
Tuesday, May 10, 2022


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