After 10 seasons of professional baseball, including five at the major league level, Isiah Kiner-Falefa finally gets a taste of the MLB postseason.
The Mid-Pacific alumnus, who hit .261 with four home runs in his debut season starting at shortstop for the New York Yankees, gets his playoff career underway against the Cleveland Guardians on Tuesday 1:37 p.m. HST. Every game of the best-of-five series will be televised nationally on TBS.
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Following a 99-63 regular season, the Yankees are the No. 2 seed in the American League behind the Houston Astros.
Kiner-Falefa is currently the only player with Hawaii ties on an active MLB playoff roster. Kauai native Kirby Yates is currently a member of the Atlanta Braves, who have yet to release their NLDS roster as of Monday morning. Yates missed the 2021 season after getting Tommy John surgery but returned in August and made nine appearances out of the bullpen, registering a 5.14 ERA with six strikeouts in seven total innings.
Below are how other players with Hawaii ties performed in the 2022 MLB season:
Kolten Wong, second baseman, Milwaukee Brewers (Kamehameha-Hawaii and University of Hawaii): Wong hit .251 with a career-high 15 home runs in 131 games in 2022 while fielding .963 despite tying a career-high in errors with 17.
Milwaukee finished 86-76, missing out on the National League’s final Wild Card spot, a slot filled by the Philadelphia Phillies.
The Brewers have a $10 million option on Wong for 2023. If declined, Wong becomes a free agent and is owed a $2 million buyout by the Brewers.
Kurt Suzuki, catcher, Los Angeles Angels (Baldwin): After a long and successful career that spanned 16 MLB seasons and one World Series title with the Washington Nationals in 2019, Suzuki has retired from professional baseball. In 2022, Suzuki played sparingly, hitting .180 in 51 games as a backup catcher for the Angels, who went 73-89.
Josh Rojas, third baseman, Arizona Diamondbacks (University of Hawaii): After playing more of a utility role in every previous year of his MLB career, Rojas rotated between third base (89 games) and second base (26 games) in 2022. At the plate, he hit .269 with nine home runs, three of them coming on May 20 against the Chicago Cubs. Following the season, Rojas was nominated for the prestigious Roberto Clemente Award.
Kyle Dowdy, pitcher, Cincinnati Reds (University of Hawaii): Dowdy was called up by the Reds in September and made two appearances out of the bullpen, tossing a total of 6.1 scoreless innings with three strikeouts and three walks. At the MLB level, Dowdy previously appeared in 13 games for the Texas Rangers in 2019.
Rico Garcia, pitcher, Baltimore Orioles (Hawaii Pacific): Despite making just six appearances, Garcia had stints with the Orioles in June, July, August and September. He pitched a total of eight innings, allowing four runs in eight innings for a 4.50 ERA. He also had two strikeouts and three walks.