4. Josh Naylor Establishes Himself
The Cleveland Guardians have been waiting for someone to emerge and take pressure off perennial MVP candidate Jose Ramirez, and it appears that person is Josh Naylor.
After a few seasons of displaying potential, Naylor took a step forward in his age 26 season, slashing .308/.354/.489. Naylor would hit 31 doubles and 17 home runs while driving in 97 runs in 121 games, leading to an impressive 128 weighted runs created plus.
An ill-timed injury right at the trade deadline saw Naylor hit the shelf for the entire month of August, ultimately resulting in limiting his total production for the season, in addition to sinking the slim chances the Guardians had to contend for the postseason. While it is not entirely on Naylor, his oblique injury could not have come at a worse time.
Looking ahead, Cleveland is counting on Naylor to build off his impressive 2023 and prove that he has truly developed into an impact bat in their lineup. Additionally, Naylor has two arbitration-eligible years remaining, and it would be wise for the Guardians to work toward signing him to an extension. Having another player signed to a multi-year deal would allow the team to operate with financial commitments in place, resulting in the front office adding other players through free agency and trades accordingly.