The Cleveland Guardians have struggled with one major thing for the entirety of the 2023 season: slugging. Whether it's finding runs or hitting home runs, the team as a whole has failed to find consistency in both areas. That is where Triple-A outfielder Oscar Gonzalez enters the picture.
Gonzalez was sent down to join the Columbus Clippers in early May after putting up an abysmal .192 batting average to go alongside an OPS of .501. This was over the course of 73 plate appearances and he has not seen the majors since. However, he has started to find his groove and could rejoin the first-place Guardians in the coming weeks.
It was obvious he was struggling, and so were the Guardians at the time. The team as a whole was unable to find their footing at the plate and to find an answer to the issues they opted to send him down to the minors to reset his confidence. After being down in the minors for quite some time now it seems that he may have done just exactly what the organization was hoping for. A chance to become great again.
While Oscar Gonzalez'' start of this season was rocky, he was one of the key contributors to the Guardians' playoff run in the 2022 season.
Through the final 91 games of the season, he smashed 11 home runs and drove in 43 runs to go with a .296/.327/.461/.789 slashing line. In the playoffs hit the walk-off home run against the Tampa Bay Rays, while also hitting a walk-off single against the Yankees in the following round. There is still a chance for that potential to be unleashed again this season.
In the minors he is currently putting up phenomenal numbers. Through the last 10 outings he is hitting .450 from the plate to go alongside four home runs, four doubles, one triple and 15 RBIs. Overall on the season he's hitting .282 from the plate with nine home runs and 48 RBIs.
If the Guardians are looking carefully enough, that type of production is exactly what they need. Currently, the team has been able to get base knocks, but are missing that power at the plate that Gonzalez offers.
With Josh Naylor struggling with a potential injury, Josh Bell being inconsistent, and others being unable to blast the ball past the outfield wall, this is the perfect time to give Gonzalez another opportunity at redemption. If he were to rejoin the majors, a likely option could see him splitting time with Myles Straw or Will Brennan.
The expectations for him should remain relatively high as his potential is known, but for a player who has already been sent down once, his nerves will definitely be there until he settles into the big leagues once again.
Just like minor league teammate James Karinchak, Gonzalez could become a crucial player down the stretch of the season as the team rests others in preperation for the playoffs. When he does get his chance, he will have to showcase what we saw towards the end of last season if he wants any shot of solidifying his place for the future.