Josh Naylor may not be taking the field in Seattle for any All-Star Game festivities, but his first half performance was certainly worthy of being there.
Naylor has been a key bat in the Guardians lineup. Among Cleveland hitters he is third in doubles (17), second in home runs (11), and second in OPS (.825) while leading the team in runs batted in (64). Even though the first half of the season has been a rollercoaster, Naylor's production helped Cleveland (briefly) get over .500 and is a big reason why they have overtaken Minnesota for the American League Central division lead. But that is just the tip of the iceberg.
When comparing his performance at the plate to other American League first basemen, Josh Naylor deserves to have his name mentioned along with the best of the best.
Naylor is fourth in hits (90), second in batting average (.305), tied for fifth with Vladimir Guerrero Jr. in doubles and on-base percentage (.344), tied for sixth with Ryan Mountcastle and Anthony Rizzo in home runs, leads the position when it comes to driving in runs, and is second in OPS. All of this is despite having just over 50 fewer at-bats (295) than Nathaniel Lowe, the American League leader (356).
One would think that being one of the best at their respective postiion would result in making an All-Star appearance or being known for something besides his viral on-field moments, good and bad. But as has been the case many times when it comes to All-Star voting the system remains flawed. It is tough for anyone playing in Cleveland to make the All-Star game as players in larger markets usually take those honors deserving or not. Sure, there is the occasional moment when the voting process gets juiced resulting in one team taking more spots than they deserve (2015 Kansas City Royals anyone?), but that is far from the norm.
Even though Josh Naylor has been overlooked, this should not discourage him in any way. As long as Naylor is able to continue his performance at the plate and carry it over multiple seasons, it will not be long before he too takes part in All-Star festivities.