Cleveland Guardians: Josh Naylor an American League MVP Candidate?

Detroit Tigers v Cleveland Guardians
Detroit Tigers v Cleveland Guardians / Jason Miller/GettyImages

If someone was going to pick a Cleveland Guardians player capable of being the discussion for American League MVP before the season began, very few people, if any, would have selected anyone besides third baseman Jose Ramirez. Now, into mid-May, there is another possibility of receiving some attention as a potential MVP candidate. Josh Naylor. 

Naylor was recently named as one of 10 players by Bleacher Report's Joel Reuter in his Ranking the Top 10 MLB MVP Candidates in AL and NL Right Now. Coming in at number eight on this list is Naylor. Reuter would note his run-producing abilities (11 home runs, 30 RBI) as well as his outstanding OPS (.919) while mentioning his performance being one of the reasons for Cleveland's early season success. 

"Still only 26, Naylor has developed into a core piece for the Guardians. He's one of the biggest reasons why they've overperformed preseason offensive expectations to this point."

Joel Reuter on Josh Naylor

The Guardians have clearly benefitted from Naylor coming out of the gate as one of the most productive hitters in the game. Cleveland sits atop the surprisingly competitive AL Central, with a 26-16 record, and Naylor's contributions have played a large part in that. What the Guardians have received from Naylor has helped offset a few other bats in the lineup being dead weight, in addition to Jose Ramirez not playing at his highest level and the absence of Steven Kwan. 

Naylor is not the only player who calls the American League Central home to make an appearance on this list, as four others also appear in the Top 10. Minnesota's Ryan Jeffers (9), Detroit's Tarik Skubal (7), and Kansas City's Salvador Perez (6) and Bobby Witt Jr. (2) also have an entry on this list from Reuter. Of the players listed, the best bets to have actual candidacy for the American League MVP are Naylor and Witt Jr., but that is a discussion best put on the back burner right now and would best be picked back up after the All-Star break.