Friday, May 17, 2024

Naylor Made


Josh Naylor was 3 RBIs away from his first 100 RBI season last year. Which leads me to believe that the AL Central pitching just got off easy.

The Guardians are lucky that they've built this very varied team, with Jose Ramirez at the head, defensive guys like Andres Gimenez and Brayan Rocchio, and contact guys like Steven Kwan and David Fry. And then right in the middle, they have Josh Naylor, a guy whose contact and power skills are so ridiculous that sometimes it's not even worth trying. So far this season Naylor has 33 RBIs and 12 homers, as well as an .899 OPS. Right now he's undeniably one of the best offensive performers in Cleveland, and the Guardians are pressing him as the poster boy as the team defends its first place standing.

This is a role that Naylor did not always seem fit for. Even as far back as 2021, Naylor was seen as an oft-injured, middle-of-the-road infield type without many perks. This lack of real confidence is why the Padres traded him to Cleveland for Mike Clevinger in the first place, and while Naylor swore his allegiance to the Guardians, then the Indians, with a phenomenal showing in the 2020 AL Wild Card round, he may have been the only member of that team to show up that series. Then, upon the name change, Naylor started producing, hit 79 RBIs in 2022, and 97 last year. His season high bar for home runs is 20; he already has 12, and it's May. This may be Naylor's biggest power season yet, and it's happening for a first place, competitive, varied Guardians team. For a kid from Toronto this is pretty awesome.

It's cooler for Naylor considering that is younger brother Bo is the starting catcher for the Guardians this year. Bo, like Austin Hedges, isn't exactly hitting for average, but the hope is that, like Josh, the 24-year-old backstop will come into his own in Cleveland and solidify his contact numbers. At the same time, there is a third Naylor brother, Myles, who's in A-ball in the Athletics' system. So all I'm saying is if the A's ever wanted to reunite with Ramon Laureano for their last season in Oakland and needed a prospect they don't really care about to be dealt, uh...they've got that option. Can you imagine all three Mississauga Naylors in one lineup? It'd be like the Alous all over again.

Josh Naylor is definitely a key factor in keeping this Guardians team in 1st, as the Royals and Twins are gaining, and said Twins happen to be in town tonight. If Triston McKenzie, Logan Allen and Tanner Bibee can keep these guys down, it would be very helpful, even if all three aren't in the best shape this year. Still, having a Guardians team starting this strong, along with some competition that doesn't feel half-hearted, is making this a much more exciting year for the AL Central.

Coming Tomorrow- The NL's answer to Anthony Volpe. Last year he was excellent on defense but struggled at the plate. This year...he's arrived.

No comments:

Post a Comment