So, how good is Steven Kwan? The Guardians rookie is hitting .800/.857/1.000 without a strikeout entering play Monday and has been the best hitter in baseball through the first weekend of action. Heck, he hasn't even swung-and-missed yet on 58 pitches seen. Heck, if you include spring training and go back to last season, Kwan hasn't struck out in a game since Sept. 26, 2021, a span of 23 games and 67 plate appearances.
Kwan probably isn't the best hitter in baseball, of course. And it's not clear if he's even definitely an above-average hitter – the ATC projections had him down for a 105 wRC+ entering the season, with a .274/.336/.413 line and six homers and five steals in 76 games, which would be a pretty fringe-y Fantasy option, all things considered. Should three really good games change that perception?
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Yes and no. Kwan is an obvious must-add player in all leagues, not just based on this start but on the fact that he just hit .328/.407/.527 in 77 games between Double-A and Triple-a with 12 homers and six steals. His start has also moved him up to the No. 2 spot in the lineup already in the Guardians' most recent game, a very valuable lineup spot that should give him a bunch of opportunities to hit right in front of Jose Ramirez, one of the game's best hitters.
So, in the strictest sense, our perception of Kwan has to have changed so far. He went from an intriguing bench option in deeper leagues to someone who needs to be rostered in all leagues outside of maybe shallower 10-team point leagues.
However, it's worth noting that isn't necessarily just because I think Kwan is going to be a must-roster player doesn't mean my expectations of him have changed dramatically. He's going to make a ton of contact, but it's not clear that'll be enough to make him a must-start Fantasy option. I have concerns that Kwan's power growth last season was for real, and what we've seen so far in the majors hasn't necessarily changed that – his average (88 mph) and max exit velocities (103) so far are below-average, and while it's obviously still just a small sample size, that fits with what we expected coming into the season.
Which is all to say, I tend to still think Kwan is a pretty middling hitter, most likely. Making as much contact as he does is important, but it hasn't been enough to make Luis Arraez much more than a fringe Fantasy option; does Arraez's outlook really change much if he steals 10 bases?
Kwan is a must-roster player, not necessarily because I think he's a definite difference maker, then. It's because, even if you're skeptical right now, there is an opportunity cost to avoiding him. Kwan is going to be added by someone in your league this week, which means if there is even a chance he turns into a sub-peak Michael Brantley – say a .300-plus hitter with 18-homer, 18-steal potential at the top of a good lineup – this is your last chance to add that kind of difference maker.
I wouldn't have much trouble dropping someone like Avisail Garcia or Adam Duvall for Kwan, because those are established players with relatively low ceilings. I'm dropping A.J. Pollock and Ian Happ for him, too, if it comes to it.
But there is an opportunity cost to overrating Kwan's potential, too. Would I drop someone like Alex Kiriloff or Jo Adell for him? I wouldn't, because I think both of those guys have a better chance to be a true difference maker – they have 30-homer upside with the potential to be all-around contributors in a way that I think is more of a stretch for Kwan given his skill set.
At this point in the season, my roster moves are going to prioritize potential difference makers over anything else. I'm not looking for high-floor contributors unless I'm absolutely desperate for help with my starting lineup, which is why I'd be prioritizing question marks like Adell and Kiriloff over Kwan, but also why I'd be prioritizing Kwan over Pollock or Garcia. The truth is, you probably have someone on your roster you should be okay with dropping for Kwan, and you should do that. If Kwan goes hitless over his next five – or Adell continues to sit every other game – you can probably just go back and add Pollock or Garcia anyway.
But if you leave Kwan on the wire today, someone else is going to add him. And your chance to snag that potential difference maker will be gone.