I really did like this Cleveland Guardians team. I think they used small-ball and youth to their advantage, and really had the Yankees on the ropes during the ALDS. This is very much a little-team-that-could mentality that could build up towards a long-term great team. The only issue was that this year they were still very young and untested, and...they were gonna get bounced eventually. I know, the Phils are kinda similar, but they had contracts. The Guardians locked up Ramirez and had the rest of the gang hanging around on preliminary deals. The fact that they took the team this far, even with the Twins staking their claim on the division halfway through, is still admirable.
Owen Miller was the Guardians' primary 1st baseman in 2022, and he was...alright. You can kinda see why Josh Naylor would be in his spot come the postseason. In 130 games, he hit .243 with 51 RBIs and 103 hits, and played some very decent defense. Not much to someone like Miller, and I think they're either waiting for him to blossom or using him as a temp guy til someone better [read: Josh Bell] comes around.
2023 Prediction: I guess he'll be getting some backup utility infield innings, then.. [Update, 12/14: Just not with the Guardians I guess]
While the Guardians were quick to make an upgrade at 1st base, they still wholeheartedly refused to get a better catcher than frigging Austin Hedges, who, while still a great defensive option, has absolutely refused to hit. Dear lord. Hedges has a career 0 WAR, because he's always had negative hitting variables. This year, Hedges hit .163. And he was the team's PRIMARY OPTION ALL YEAR. No wonder they lost. Thankfully, with Hedges and Luke Maile gone, the Guardians are really gonna have to find a workable catching option. Either they really bank on Bo Naylor, or they see if they can sign someone like Vazquez or Gomes [UPDATE, 12/13: NO!!!! NOOO!!!!!!]
2023 Prediction: Please dear god be a backup. If Hedges is your first choice, something is amiss.
The Guardians' top middle relief asset this year was Sam Hentges, who tried starting last year and it didn't go too well. In 57 games, Hentges had a 2.32 ERA, 72 Ks and a 0.968 WHIP. Hentges would walk away with the win from the marathon 15-inning game against Tampa, though he would give up 2 earned runs in the Cleveland series.
2023 Prediction: I think Hentges is gonna be a perennial decent relief guy for them as this team comes up, and he'll be good next year as well.
For 23 games, the Guardians brought up corner infield prospect Tyler Freeman to get some reps. Thanks to Jose Ramirez, it's hard to see where exactly he'll fit into the Guards' lineup in the near future, but he did get to showcase his skills. In 23 games, he hit .247 with 19 hits. Considering that the team already dealt Nolan Jones, Freeman could be similarly dealt, but you never know.
Yeah, I'm not thinking Freeman will finish the season with Cleveland.
Tomorrow, a nice helping of Mariners that helped their team break the playoff drought.
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