The Cleveland Guardians' greatest enemy this season has been getting over the .500 mark, a deeply frustrating back and forth that has perhaps overshadowed - just a bit - the fact that first baseman Josh Naylor is having one of the most incredible seasons in recent Cleveland baseball memory (something we predicted as a possibility back in April).
Also overshadowing his season is the absolutely criminal fact that Naylor, 26, was snubbed from the All-Star Game, such a glaring omission we can only call into question the validity of the entire event as a whole moving forward.
But anyway, let's take a quick look at the stats.
Going into Wednesday's action, over the past ten weeks, Naylor is sporting a .380/.414/.650 slash line for a 1.064 OPS, which is second in MLB to only... Shohei Ohtani, who has a 1.184 OPS in that span.
And for the season, Naylor is now slashing an incredible .310/.350/.522 with 15 home runs, 75 RBI, 22 doubles, and six stolen bases, giving him a 141 OPS+. There's no way he could catch Manny Ramírez's franchise record of 165 RBI in 1999, but there's an outside chance he could find himself within the top ten when it's all said and done this year - Tris Speaker currently sits at ten, with 130 RBI in 1923.
It's incredible to have seen the maturation of Naylor's approach over the past two seasons. He still isn't walking much, but he's still not striking out much, either (just 15.2% in 2023), and he's making the best contact of his career, with a sky-high .311 xBA, a 10% barrel rate, and a launch angle of 13.6 degrees. He has truly put it all together, giving the Guardians a formidable 1-2 punch in the middle of the lineup.
When the time comes for another round of potential contract extensions this offseason, Naylor should be at the top of the list.