There's no sugarcoating it: Myles Straw had a rough 2022 at the plate. The Cleveland Guardians center fielder hit a paltry .221/.291/.273 with no home runs, 32 RBI, 22 doubles, and a 65 OPS+ in 596 plate appearances, making him one of the least-effective regulars in all of Major League Baseball.
That all being said, Straw more than made up for his offensive struggles by being a dominant force in the outfield, as he won his first Gold Glove in 2022 alongside rookie Steven Kwan, who won his own Gold Glove in left.
The Guardians certainly stuck with Straw in 2022 because there weren't many other options at their disposal. But in 2023, Straw will have to improve at the plate if he wants to maintain his role on the team; otherwise, a guy like Will Brennan could find himself with far more playing time.
What Can the Guardians Expect Out of Myles Straw in 2023?
There's a pretty good chance Straw won't replicate his disappointing 2022. He still has an incredible eye at the plate - he struck out just 14.6% of the time last year - but he has to find a way to at least come close to a 100 OPS+ this season. Nobody is asking him to hit 20 homers, but a .291 on-base percentage just isn't going to cut it, not with the speed he has.
Realistically, the Guardians can probably expect Straw to have something in the range of an 85-95 OPS+, far more in line with his career numbers to this point. He'll be hitting low in the lineup, so the pressure's off to some extent. Maybe it'll ultimately help to have a guy like Brennan breathing down his neck for playing time.
To this point in the spring, Straw has actually faced the highest-quality pitching among Guardians players. According to Baseball Reference's opponent quality score (which is a truly glorious tool), Straw has a 7.9, which means he's faced something close to Triple-A pitching so far and is slashing .250/.400/.250 with three hits in 12 at-bats and just one strikeout.
Take that with a grain of salt, but it's hard to imagine Straw having as bad a season in 2023. If he can produce closer to his typical averages - he had a career .265/.343/.341 line with an 88 OPS+ in the four seasons before 2022 - the bottom of Cleveland's lineup will be in much better shape.