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Guardians leadoff man Steven Kwan led off Thursday's afternoon game against the Mariners with a double (it would end up a 6-3 Guardians win). That raised his batting average to an even .400. He would record a walk before making outs in his final two at-bats, dropping his average to .396 on the year before the end of the game. Still ... 

Everyone perk up, right? A player's batting average was .400! In late June!

Major League Baseball hasn't seen a qualified .400 hitter since Ted Williams hit .406 in 1941. That word, "qualified," matters here. This means a player has played enough to qualify for the batting title. By rule, that is 3.1 plate appearances per every game his team has played. Kwan missed time due to injury earlier this season, so he only has 46 games played right now. 

He also has 209 plate appearances in 72 Guardians games. That's 2.9 plate appearances per game, so he isn't qualified. Assuming he stays healthy here for the next several weeks -- remember, he hits leadoff -- he'll get there soon enough, though. Just keep in mind as we move forward that Kwan isn't yet qualified.

In recent years, we've seen players flirt with .400 for a bit before falling off. Remember Cody Bellinger in 2019? He was hitting .404 through 47 games. He ended up at .305, though he was good enough all year to win the NL MVP. Luis Arraez made a heck of a run last year. He was hitting .401 through 78 Marlins games on June 24. He was still at .381 through Aug. 1. 

For those curious, here are some other prominent players who made a run at .400 and where they sat through 72 team games. 

  • Tony Gwynn hit .394 in 1994. He was at .384 through 72 Padres games, but remember that was a strike-shortened season and they only played 117. In 1997, Gwynn ended up hitting .372. Through 72 Padres games, he was at .391. 
  • George Brett hit .390 in 1980. Through 72 Royals games (and only 45 himself), he was hitting just .337. 
  • Ichiro Suzuki hit .372 in 2004 and through 72 Mariners games, he was only at .323. 
  • Larry Walker hit .379 in 1999 and was at .382 through 72 Rockies games. 
  • Rod Carew hit .388 in 1977 and was hitting .408 through 72 Twins games. 

Perhaps Kwan is having a surge like Brett and Suzuki. He was hitting .353 when he hit the injured list in early May. Since coming off in time for a game on May 31, he has a 14-game hitting streak with multiple hits in eight different games, including four games with at least three hits. 

Again, Kwan now sits at .396 through June 20. He also has a skill set -- like Arráez -- that suggests he could keep this thing in the public eye for a bit. He very rarely strikes out, with only 14 strikeouts through 185 at-bats this season. He only struck out 75 times in 718 plate appearances last season. He sprays the ball to all fields, hitting it to the opposite field nearly as much as pulling it with most balls directed up the middle. Only around 20% of his balls in play are fly balls, leaving the rest as line drives or grounders. 

His batting average on balls in play this season is .413 and some might say that's unsustainable, but he's a fast-running lefty who hits a lot of grounders and line drives while not striking out much. It's exactly the kind of skill set that could run an outlier BABIP. 

Basically, Kwan puts the ball in play a ton and gives himself a great chance for the ball to find a hole whenever it is in play. We'll keep our fingers crossed that he continues to flirt with .400 for a while.