When considering the best-case scenario for the Cleveland Guardians, Bleacher Report's Zachary D. Rymer does not have a postseason appearance in mind. Instead, it is Bo Naylor showing that he is the catcher of the future.
After noting their lackluster record over the last 25 games (10-15) and the fact they trail by 8.5 games in the wild-card race (which has never been the focus this season), Rymer states that it is time to focus on the future (something they have been doing pretty much all season long). A point that can be agreed upon is wanting more production from the younger Naylor.
"What would help is if Naylor did more to show why he was formerly ranked as one of MLB's top catching prospects. He hasn't done much since joining the team on a full-time basis on June 18, but the talent to become a two-way star is still there somewhere."- Zachary D. Rymer on Bo Naylor
Entering Wednesday, Naylor is slashing .196/.271/.361 with a strikeout rate of 27.1% and a weighted runs created plus of 74. Naylor has shown to be better than in the minors, but that does not always translate to the next level. Adding to that is learning the nuances of being behind the plate. The steep learning curve for both makes his current lack of production in the batter's box a little more acceptable.
But is this the best-case scenario for Guardians in 2023?
Of course not. Yes, getting a glimpse of what Naylor could become would be fantastic. It must be recognized that it may not happen at any point this season due to other catching options being utilized and everything that comes with transitioning to a full-time major-league catcher. There is also a rather large elephant in the room that must be addressed.
After declaring the Twins essentially unopposed while at the same time making their best-case scenario be getting hotter at the plate as well as being healthier as they make their way to the postseason, the Guardians are disregarded as possibly being in the mix for the division. The odds are indeed against them, but it is far from impossible.
It would take a massive stroke of good luck for the Guardians to genuinely be in the mix for the American League Central crown. Hoping their offense finally finds its footing this late in the season is likely a fool's errand. But stranger things have happened, and the Twins are far from anything resembling a juggernaut.
One more thing to take note of. There was a willingness to mention a postseason appearance as the best-case scenario for an entire division. At the same time, not even saying it is a remote possibility for Cleveland is incredibly disrespectful. Not that this version of the Guardians deserves a ton of respect this season based on their performance, because let's face it, they haven't. Noting their outside chance rather than declaring a division race over with just under 50 games left is the least that could have been done.