Both Seiya Suzuki and Steven Kwan have gotten out to fantastic starts for the Chicago Cubs and Cleveland Guardians, respectively.

But how do those debut months stack up with what we've witnessed since the beginning of the millennium?

Because both Suzuki and Kwan made their MLB debuts to begin the campaign, we went looking exclusively for players who did the same in March/April of their rookie seasons. In other words, you won't find Prince Fielder, Geovany Soto, Aaron Judge, Trevor Rogers, Yermin Mercedes or others who got a taste of the majors before dominating in the opening month of what was still officially their rookie season.

We are also focused on March/April as opposed to something like "first 30 games played." One of many examples where that excluded a player who was awesome right away is Yordan Alvarez, who had 11 home runs and a 1.131 OPS through the first 30 games of his career, but who did so in June and July.

Even with those stipulations in place, however, there have been plenty of quality candidates over the past two-plus decades.

Honorable Mentions

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

There have been a ton of "if he could have just stayed healthy" players over the years, and Baldelli was one of the most tantalizing of the bunch. He did strike out 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 placed third in the AL ROY vote despite playing for a 99-loss 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. Through his first three seasons, he batted .280, stole 61 bases and knocked 146 extra-base hits. Five of those swipes and nine of the extra-base hits (six doubles, two triples and one home run) came in his first month of action. He ended the month with a 5-for-5 (all singles) performance.


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

Pineda opened his career with five consecutive quality starts, winning four games in spite of minimal run support (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 batter—the only time in his career that he had at least five consecutive performances of that ilk.


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

Darvish's debut (5.2 IP, 5 ER, 4 BB, 5 K) left much to be desired, but it didn't take long for him to hit midseason form. Over his final two starts of April, Darvish went 15.1 innings with 19 strikeouts and allowed only one run, shutting down solid Yankees and Blue Jays lineups in back-to-back outings.


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 quickly made his presence known in the majors with three home runs in his first four games. The biggest highlight came a little later in the month, though, when he went 3-for-5 at the plate and mashed a game-tying home run in the 14th inning against the White Sox. 


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

Kwan has gotten out to an impressive start, perhaps most notably in the "rarely swings and misses" department, as he leads the majors with a 94.6 contact percentage. He has also done an excellent job in left field with two assists and no errors. However, with no home runs and no stolen bases, it's hard to put Kwan in the same tier with guys who made a bigger impact.

8. Seiya Suzuki, Chicago Cubs, 2022

Stats: .279/.405/.529, 4 HR, 14 RBI (21 games)

Did you know that Seiya Suzuki is leading the majors in intentional walks?

Sure, that league-leading number is merely two, and both were situational decisions with men on second and third and first base vacant.

Still, the respect is clearly there for the man who dominated Nippon Professional Baseball over the previous six seasons.

Ten games into his MLB career, the Chicago Cubs rookie was batting .429 with four home runs and an OPS of 1.493. Most impressive was the April 12 game against the Pirates in which his two solo home runs provided all of the offense for a 2-1 Cubs win. It felt like he was doing something newsworthy every day.

The batting average and OPS have already come plummeting back to earth, but Suzuki was still leading the National League in on-base percentage as recently as Wednesday morning. There have already been six games in which he reached base at least three times, including last week's blowout victory over the Pirates in which he had three hits and his first stolen base.