The Cleveland Guardians took two from the Los Angeles Angels right when Josh Naylor started to look good again.
A lot of Cleveland Guardians hitters have started off slow. You have your Amed Rosario and Steven Kwans, both of whom are hitting much better. Those are the guys who struggled but you didn’t expect to struggle. Then you have guys like Josh Bell and Mike Zunion, who are both guys who fans thought could struggle but hoped wouldn’t. Then there’s Josh Naylor, who would fit in the first group of players; those who unexpectedly struggled but aren’t anymore. But Naylor, up until the Los Angeles Angels came to town was struggling.
In fact, Naylor was well below .200 to start the series. Considering how important Naylor was to the expectation of the Guardians, it was no wonder that everyone in front of him, Jose Ramirez included, wasn’t hitting as well as expected.
Naylor was penciled in as the cleanup hitter for a reason heading into the year, but he has been anything but. Yet, wouldn’t ya know it? The minute Naylor starts swinging the bat well again, the entire Guardians offense comes alive.
Across three games against the Angels, Naylor hit .454, had three home runs, seven RBIs, five runs, and a pair of walks. The Guardians went 2-1 against the Angels and scored 16 runs as a team, thus eliminating any lingering doubt that the team doesn’t need Naylor.
Josh Naylor needs to play better if the Cleveland Guardians are going to win games
Baseball isn’t basketball, where one player on their own can win you a game. No, the game of baseball requires success built off of others’ success. Naylor isn’t the sole reason for his team’s success or failures, but when he plays well he does make it harder on opposing pitchers to take the rest of the Guardians lineup so lightly.
The Guards’ offense has been lame ducks for nearly a month now, so seeing them all seemingly snap that skid at once is a sight to behold, but no one more impressed me over that three-game span against the Angels than Naylor.
If Naylor can continue to improve and play above his current station, then the Guardians are going to be a force again. With them going to Chicago to take on the toothless White Sox, this is the perfect opportunity for the club to get back into the AL Central chase, and hopefully, above .500.