The Cleveland Guardians should not call up Bo Naylor, even with Mike Zunino’s struggles.
The Cleveland Guardians are having some offensive woes right now, but things seem to be on the rebound. The top of the lineup seems to be finding their swing again with Steven Kwan, Amed Rosario, and Jose Ramirez all hitting the ball better. Most of the others, save for Josh Naylor, have seen their stats either level out or rise some, but Mike Zunino has not.
Zunino, for some time, was a very hot hitter when the season broke, but he’s only hit two home runs so far this year, he already has 40 strikeouts, and his batting average is under .200. Now some of this was to be expected, he’s not a great contact hitter, but the lack power is concerning. He had just two home runs in all of April and right now has not had a hit since May 1.
Zunino’s struggles haven’t ended at the plate, he’s also now struggling in the field. His Defensive Runs Saved Above Average is a career-worse -10. His play is just off. He’s now missing games due to a neck strain and now everyone and their brother are talking about bringing up Bo Naylor, but Naylor, right now, isn’t the answer.
Bo Naylor isn’t ready to take over full-time for Mike Zunino
Naylor is going to be the Guardians’ starting catcher in 2024, there’s almost no denying that unless something monumental occurs. And right now, that’s where the timetable should start at the very least.
Through 26 games at catcher in Triple-A Columbus, Naylor has already committed more errors than Zunino in the same number of games. Three for Naylor, one for Zunino.
If that wasn’t a strong indication that Naylor doesn’t have a great grasp of the level of play he’s currently facing, he’s only hitting .256 against Triple-A hitters. Keep in mind there’s always a drop-off when you get called up from league to league. If he’s only hitting .256 against Triple-A hitting, many of whom aren’t going to be good enough to make the Major Leagues, then how is he going to fair against better pitching?
Naylor still needs some polishing and some time against Triple-A hitting before he gets called up. Otherwise, his arrival will be short-lived and we’ll have another Nolan Jones, Bradley Zimmer or Matt LaPorta.