Bo Naylor had a heck of a run to end the 2023 season. In September, the 23-year-old slashed .304/.444/.607 with four home runs, five doubles, and 13 RBI in 72 plate appearances, finishing the season with a 124 OPS+ and showcasing what made him a first-round pick in 2018.
Oh, did we mention that he had more walks (14) than strikeouts (ten) that month as well?
Obviously, the Guardians' offseason to this point has been pretty quiet, much like the rest of Major League Baseball (to some extent, for any teams that aren't the Dodgers). And while it doesn't seem likely Cleveland will sign a big impact bat (though there are plenty of affordable, intriguing names still out there), the prospect of Naylor's maturation in his third MLB season is pretty darn enticing, too.
What Can the Guardians Expect Out of Bo Naylor in 2024?
Naylor has a naturally great eye at the plate, which should continue to serve him well. He struck out 23% of the time in 2023, but that'll play just fine with a 13% walk rate. Not to mention the power stroke Naylor is continuing to develop - he hit 11 homers in 198 at-bats last season. More than anything - more than simply getting on base, more than whatever he does with his batting average - that will be the most important thing for the power-starved Guardians moving forward.
One wonders just how long Naylor will remain a catcher in his major-league career given his potential power at the plate, but for now, he'll have Austin Hedges guiding him in his maturation at the catcher position as well. Hedges is a beloved member of the clubhouse and his impact on Naylor and the rest of this still-young team can't be overstated.
Steamer projections peg Naylor to have a productive 2024 season, including a .230/.337/.417 line with 14 home runs, 15 doubles, 45 RBIs, and a 111 wRC+ in 367 plate appearances. There's a pretty good chance Naylor will get more at-bats than that, and if he can improve on his strikeouts even a bit (along with maybe a little more luck than a projected .270 BABIP), the power should only continue to improve. But as far as production out of the catcher position goes, you can't ask for anything much better than that.