Baseball

Steven Kwan Joins Bizarre Club

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Baseball is an exceedingly strange sport. Nothing epitomizes that claim as much as the stats over the more than 150 years of Major League Baseball.

On April 10, 2022, Steven Kwan etched his name in one of the most ridiculous groups imaginable. He is one of six players to record five hits in one of his first three MLB games. Let’s take a look at all six.

1903: Judge McCredie, Brooklyn Superbas

In the third game of the Superbas season and McCredie’s career, he mashed five hits in five plate appearances to begin the year. Batting second and playing right field for the Superbas, McCredie notched five singles. He scored twice, and he stole a base. Despite his best efforts, the Superbas ended the game in a tie with the New York Giants. The 1903 Superbas eventually finished 70-66-3, good enough for fifth in the National League.

That year would be the only season of McCredie’s career. He was a solid player across 56 games and 245 plate appearances. In the majors, McCredie slashed .324/.397/.347 for an OPS+ of 110. He tacked on 10 steals and five doubles.

On July 3, 1903, the Superbas traded McCredie to “Baltimore of the Eastern League.”

1910: Jack Dalton, Brooklyn Superbas

In something of deja vu, another Superbas player went five-for-five against the Giants. This time, it was Dalton. Dalton was playing his second career game in mid-June for a below-.500 Superbas squad. On the day, Dalton notched five singles, including four against Golden Hall of Famer Christy Mathewson, while batting lead-off and playing right field. Dalton’s teammates managed to combine for just three hits and five total bases. Dalton, like McCredie, stole a base. The Giants blasted the Superbas to the tune of a 12-1 win.

The 1910 Superbas struggled, finishing sixth in the NL. They went 64-90-2 under the guidance of Bill Dahlen, one of McCredie’s teammates on the 1903 team. Dalton fared better than McCredie, playing four Major League seasons for three different teams. He spent 205 games with the Superbas/Robins over two seasons in 1910 and 1914. Before 1915, he “jumped” to the Buffalo Blues of the Federal League. Dalton finished sixth on the team in WAR before being purchased by the Detroit Tigers before the 1916 season.

For his career, Dalton posted 3.5 WAR across 345 games. He slashed .286/.362/.356, good for a 111 OPS+. His best season came in 1914 when he finished in the top 10 in the NL in batting average, on-base percentage, OPS, and OPS+. Dalton also stole 19 bases and walked more than he struck out.

1918: Red Massey, Boston Braves

Staying in the National League, Massey accomplished the five-hit mark in the second game of his career. Batting lead-off and playing left field, Massey went five-for-six with a double and three RBI. He, like the previous two entrants, stole a base. The Braves cruised to a 14-2 win, scoring at least four runs in three different innings. However, the Braves failed to bottle this momentum for the rest of the season. To his credit, Massey finished ninth on the Braves in WAR in 1918.

Massey is another one-season wonder on this list. He played 66 games for the Braves, hitting six doubles and two triples. The aforementioned stolen base was the only one of his career. He slashed .291/.363/.340 en route to a 119 OPS+. He posted 1.1 bWAR and 59 hits.

1933: Cecil Travis, Washington Senators

After a 15-year gap, Travis entered the exclusive club, notching five hits in his MLB debut. Travis batted fifth and played third base for the 16-11 Senators. In his first career at-bat, Travis reached on an infield single. One inning later, he tacked on another single. He added singles in the fourth, sixth, and 10th. Travis also reached on an error in the eighth, giving him six trips to first base. However, Travis grounded out in the bottom of the 12th before the next four Senators reached base to win the game.

The Senators were very successful in 1933, winning 99 games and the American League pennant. However, they lost to the Giants in five games in the World Series.

Unlike the previous entrants, Travis would cobble out a nice MLB career. He played 1,328 games across 12 seasons, all with the Senators. After debuting at age-19, Travis stuck around until 1947, missing three years with military service. Travis made three All-Star teams and received Most Valuable Player votes in four different seasons.

His finest season came in 1941. He made the All-Star team, finished sixth in AL MVP voting, and led the majors in hits. Yes, that 1941, the same season that Joe DiMaggio had his 56-game hitting streak and Ted Williams batted .406. It was Travis who led the bigs with 218 hits.

In his career, Travis slashed .314/.370/.416, posting a 108 OPS+. He racked up 1,544 hits and 265 doubles. Travis posted 30.3 bWAR, cracking 5.0 twice. He had 6.8 WAR in 1941, and he is a “what could have been” story considering that he lost his age-28, 29, and 30 seasons to World War II.

2021: Yermin Mercedes, Chicago White Sox

In the far-off land of 2021, Mercedes opened his campaign with a game for the ages. Batting eighth as the designated hitter for the White Sox, Mercedes went five-for-five with a double. Mercedes laced hits in the third, fourth, sixth, eighth, and ninth, driving in four runs as the White Sox beat the Los Angeles Angels 12-8. The White Sox kept up their winning ways to an AL Central crown. They won 93 games and ended their season with a 3-1 Division Series loss to the Houston Astros.

For a month, Mercedes was one of the biggest stories in baseball. In April 2021, he slashed .415/.455/.659 and was a serious MVP candidate. However, he struggled in May and June, eventually going down to Triple-A. He contemplated retirement, but he played 59 games for Chicago’s Triple-A affiliate. For the time being, he is back with the White Sox but on the injured list as of writing.

In 69 games with the White Sox, Mercedes has 0.4 WAR. He has slashed .270/.327/.402 for a league-average 100 OPS+. He launched seven home runs, nine doubles, and even a triple in 2021. Mercedes even pitched last season, allowing three hits and a pair of walks in a one-run, one-inning outing.

2022: Steven Kwan, Cleveland Guardians

The list now comes full circle with Kwan. In Kwan’s third MLB game, he went five-for-five for the Guardians as they scored 17 times in a blowout win over the Kansas City Royals. Kwan batted second and played left field (before moving to center field later in the game). Kwan added a double, and he was hit by a pitch. This gives him the distinction of being the only player in MLB history to reach base six times without making an out within his first three games.

Through three games, Kwan is slashing .800/.857/1.000. All told, he has an OPS+ of 433. He is leading the Majors in hits, batting average, and on-base percentage. In his MLB debut, Kwan went one-for-two with a pair of walks. In his second game, he went two-for-three with a double and another walk. He has already played all three outfield spots, and he should have more than ample playing time in an underwhelming outfield.

Main image credit Embed from Getty Images

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Ryan Potts is an avid football and baseball fan. He covers the NFL and Major League Baseball, focusing on the Baltimore Ravens and Atlanta Braves.