Where do Seiya Suzuki and Steven Kwan rank among the best MLB rookie starts since 2000? | Bleacher report


Rocco Baldelli (5)DUANE BURLESON/Associated Press

Rocco Baldelli, Tampa Bay Rays, 2003
.364/.385/.509, 1 HR, 20 RBI, 2 SB (27 games)

There have been a lot of players over the years who “if only he had stayed healthy,” and Baldelli was one of the most enticing of the bunch. He slammed quite a bit, but he had 13 multi-hit performances within his first 26 starts. The Rays were still half a decade away from becoming even remotely relevant, but Baldelli finished third in the AL ROY vote despite playing for a 99-lost squad.

Austin Jackson, Detroit Tigers, 2010
.364/.422/.495, 1 HR, 20 R, 5 SB (23 games)

Early in Jackson’s career, it looked like the Tigers had found a suitable replacement for Curtis Granderson. In his first three seasons, he batted .280, stole 61 bases, and hit 146 extra bases. Five of those swipes and nine of the extra base hits (six doubles, two triples and a home run) came in his first month of action. He ended the month with a 5 for 5 performance (all singles).

Michael Pineda, Seattle Mariners, 2011
4-1, 2.01 ERA, 30K (5 starts)

Pineda opened his career with five straight quality starts and won four games despite minimal running assistance (a common problem for Mariners aces over the past two decades). He logged 31.1 innings without allowing a single home run and without hitting a single batterthe only time in his career that he has had at least five consecutive performances of this nature.

Yu Darvish, Texas Rangers, 2012
4-0, 2.18 ERA, 33K (5 starts)

Darvish’s debut (5.2 IP, 5 ER, 4 BB, 5 K) left a lot to be desired, but it wasn’t long before he was on midseason form. In his last two starts in April, Darvish went 15.1 innings with 19 strikeouts and allowed just one run, ending solid Yankees and Blue Jays lineups in back-to-back games.

Yoenis Cespedes, Oakland A’s, 2012
.250/.333/.476, 5 HR, 19 RBI, 4 SB (23 games)

His batting average wasn’t great, but Cespedes made his mark quickly in the majors with three home runs in his first four games. The biggest highlight, however, came a little later in the month when he went to the plate 3-for-5 in the 14th inning against the White Sox and smashed a game-winning home run.

Steven Kwan, Cleveland Guardians, 2021
.354/.459/.500, 10 R, 7 RBI (15 games)

Kwan has made an impressive start, perhaps most notably in the rare swings and misses department as he leads the majors with a 94.6 contact percentage. He also did an excellent job in left field with two assists and no errors. However, with no home runs and no stolen bases, it’s difficult to put Kwan in the same league with the guys who have had a bigger impact.


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