3 Guardians on Thin Ice Heading Into Spring Training

The Cleveland Guardians will need these three players to step up if they want to return to the playoffs this season.
Aug 6, 2023; Cleveland, Ohio, USA; Cleveland Guardians center fielder Myles Straw (7) hits a single
Aug 6, 2023; Cleveland, Ohio, USA; Cleveland Guardians center fielder Myles Straw (7) hits a single / Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports
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After winning 92 games and making the postseason in 2022, the Cleveland Guardians struggled to carry that momentum into 2023 and finished in third place in the AL Central (76-86).

First and foremost, the Guardians struggled to score runs (4.03 per game). They also had a couple of notable injuries in their starting rotation (Shane Bieber, Triston McKenzie) that hindered their chances of winning another division title.

Cleveland didn’t make many moves this offseason. But they’ll have a healthy Triston McKenzie and Shane Bieber, who are great additions. However, the Guardians’ success will come down to their offense and a few players who didn’t play well last season and will be on thin ice heading into spring training next month.

1. Myles Straw

The veteran outfielder was acquired by the Guardians in a July 2021 trade from the Houston Astros. Straw hit the ball well in the second half of the 2021 season, slugging .285 with two home runs, 14 RBI, and 16 doubles. He also recorded 13 stolen bases and was caught stealing once.

The Guardians hoped that was a sign of good things to come for Straw, but he’s struggled at the plate over the last two seasons, putting his starting spot in centerfield in jeopardy. 

Last season, the former Astros outfielder slashed .238/.301/.297 with a home run and 29 RBI in 518 plate appearances, which was an improvement from 2022 (.221/.291/.273 with 32 RBI). But if the Guardians want to contend this season, they will need more offense from Straw and whoever plays in centerfield.

Straw’s strikeout percentage increased to 18.7 last season after it was 14.6% in 2022. His walk percentage was 8.1 (9.1% in 2022), and his hard-hit rate was 23.6% (26.5% in 2022).

The 29-year-old is an excellent defender, as he won a gold glove in 2022, but it doesn’t matter if opposing teams know that you are an automatic out or won’t put the ball in play. Therefore, if Straw doesn’t have a good spring training, the Guardians will have to think about giving extra at-bats to Ramon Laureano or Estevan Florial.