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Steven Kwan or Pete Rose?

Steven Kwan’s success this year has been a fantastic story. His race to a .400 batting average is a fun sidelight to the Guardians success. But for those of you who were alive in the 1970’s, Kwan is eerily similar to this fantastic leadoff hitter. Perhaps the greatest ever to play the game. 


Who am I talking about? Mr Peter Edward Rose! I know it’s very difficult to compare players from different eras, but let’s have some fun.



Courtesy of Image: Ron Vesely/MLB/Getty

Pete’s rookie year was 1963. He was drafted right out of Western Hills HS in Cincinnati. He came into the league playing both 2nd base and left field. In ‘64 and ‘65 he was mostly at 2nd, but his career was showered with playing almost every position on the field. Pete was batting typically second in the batting order until around June 1, 1963, when he began his stint as the Reds leadoff man.


Pete was named rookie of the year in ‘63 and his BA was .273. 1964 saw Rose drop to .269, playing in 23 less games. But his third year was incredible. 209 hits to lead the majors, played every game, batted .312, and made his first all star appearance. He finished 6th in the MVP voting that year.


Photo by Charles Murray

Kwan’s first year saw him grab a .298 BA playing every outfield position, but mostly left. He was third in the ROY voting and did something Pete didn’t: he won a Gold Glove as a rookie! Steven’s sophomore year saw his BA slip to almost exactly Roses, .268. Currently, Kwan leads the majors in BA at .356, miles ahead of 2nd place!


If we compare OPS, Pete’s first two years were .705 and .645, while Kwan was .710 then .772. But currently, Kwan is ahead of Rose in year three. Rose finished at .828 while Steve is at .942.


Both men had keen eyes at the plate. Rose averaged less than 1 base on balls per 10 ABs. Kwan averages a bit more than 1 walk roughly every 10 ABs. Pete only stole 25 bases his first three years, while Kwan to date has nabbed 44.


WAR! What’s it really good, for? Steven Kwan vs Pete Rose


Wins above a replacement player seems to be the new “stat” for baseball geeks to compare players from different eras. Here’s Pete’s WAR numbers his first three years.


1963 2.4

1964 1.3

1965 5.6


Kwan’s WAR


2022 5.6 (8th in all baseball)

2023 3.6

2024 3.3 (9th in all baseball)


Fielding % comparisons (Yes, I realize Pete was 2nd and Kwan LF. Just go with me!)

1963 .971          2022 .986

1964 .979         2023 .989

1965 .975         2024 .989


Stances-Steven Kwan vs Pete Rose


Pete had a crouched stance, popular in the 70’s and 80’s by great hitters like Tony Gywnn, Rod Carew, George Brett and many others. Kwan’s is more upright. But he has the high right leg lift.

Team Impact

His rookie year, Pete joined Frank Robinson and Vada Pinson as three of the starters for the 5th place Cincinnati Reds. In ‘64, the same three helped them to a 2nd place finish. In 1965, again, Pete, Frank, Vada and a rookie named Tony Perez tried but couldn’t help the Reds out of their 4th place finish.


Steven’s rookie year saw the Guardians grab first with help from Bieber, Jose, Amed Rosario and Clase. In 2023, Kwan with help from Jose, Amed, Andres and Clase only managed third place.


But in each case, both clubs had their leadoff man solidified.


Great Quotes for each

He gave you everything he had.” Sparky Anderson on his left fielder and second baseman.


[I won’t quit]  until someone rips the cleats off of me.” Steven Kwan in an interview for The Atlantic.


He’s a pain in the ass,” Blue Jays manager John Schneider said of Kwan.

What makes a great leadoff hitter?


Jackson Scudder, writing for, made a list from today’s data on the ideal leadoff hitter. Here is his dream scenario. Kwan’s numbers are below it. Where Steve is better is highlighted.


Dream Leadoff hitter stat line

OBPOPSBB%Chase%AVG Exit VeloBarrel%HH%HRs2BsK%Whiff%Feet/SecSB
.375.81013%22%90 MPH10%42%183019%21%2810


Kwan’s Lifetime Season Averages


    .365    .775     9.3%   18.8%  86.2     2.4      20.4       9        33        9.7%      9.5%   27.2   19


Pete’s Lifetime Season Avearges (Some categories are not calculated for players in the past)

.375    .784      9.8%    —        —-      —       —–       7          34        7.2%       7.0%     —-     9

All data are from and


Both Kwan and Rose fare well in this comparison.

So, Kwan is a bit below some categories. His Chase% is better, meaning he doesn’t chase balls out of the strike zone much. He doesn’t have the 10% barrel rate or the 42% hard hit rate. His doubles are better and his strikeout% is unbelievable…the best in So is his Whiff%. He runs a bit slower than the 28 feet per second, but his stolen bases are solid.


Notice that Kwan has two Gold Gloves already! That is impressive in and of itself! All told, he hits many of the metrics for the perfect leadoff hitter.


Maybe next time we will compare Kwan to perhaps the greatest leadoff hitter, Rickey Henderson. But when you look at Pete and Steve, with some exceptions, they are quite similar.


By the way, Rickey only had one Gold Glove! Pete had two.


Boom! Please feel free to leave a comment on your choice. If you have a different person to compare Kwan to, also leave that. I will follow up!


I am a math teacher in SW Ohio. Born and raised in NE Ohio, I am married with four sons who keep the flame burning for all things Cleveland. I cover soccer, betting, football and anything that focuses on the human side of sports.

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Mark McCoy

    July 11, 2024 at 10:09 am

    Nice article Mr. Petrello. Being a Reds fan, I don’t follow the Guardians except a few players that my son played with. Kwan stacks up, but Pete became historic, not only for the skill you mention but the longevity. Here’s to a long career for Steven and then it will be really fun to compare! Keep up the great work Petro!

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