The Cleveland Guardians’ biggest need entering the 2022-23 offseason
Internal Development of Players Currently on the Major-League Roster Will Increase Power
Ramírez led the Guardians with 29 home runs in 2022 despite playing for half the season with a torn ligament in his thumb that required offseason surgery to fix. He is expected to be ready for spring training, and there is no reason to expect regression now that his thumb is healthy. We may even see some of his league-leading doubles clear the wall.
In addition to a healthy season from Ramírez, it is easy to project increased power output from some of the younger players currently on the Guardians roster. Two players in particular seem likely to contribute more in 2023. First is catcher Bo Naylor, who only received a call-up for a cup of coffee at the end of the season. He hit 21 home runs as he graduated through two levels of the minor leagues in 2022, and will ultimately replace Austin Hedges. Even if Naylor struggles to find consistency in his rookie year, he should provide immediate improvement over Hedges, who hit .163 with just seven home runs in 2022. Naylor’s presence immediately lengthens the Guardians lineup heading into next year.
The other player we can expect growth from is right fielder Oscar Gonzalez. Gonzalez played just 91 games in 2022 after making his debut, but hit .296 with 11 home runs. Over 162 games, that projects to about a 20-home-run pace, which the Guardians would take in a heartbeat. However, Gonzalez’s minor-league numbers hint that he still has room for growth, as he hit nine home runs in 41 games at Triple-A in 2022 after hitting 31 home runs in 121 games across two levels in 2021. He has the potential to grow into a 25-30 home run threat, possibly as soon as next season.