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Over/Under 2023 Preview: Josh Naylor

Will Josh Naylor be worth more or less than 1.7 fWAR in 2023?

Tampa Bay Rays v Cleveland Guardians Photo by George Kubas/Diamond Images via Getty Images

Based on ZiPS projections, Josh Naylor is expected to finish 2023 with the following stats:

134 G, 514 PA, 19 HR, 5 SB, 8.2% BB%, 15.6 K% .258/.323/.443, 117 wRC+, 1.7 fWAR

Read what our writers think, then vote in the poll below and drop your own opinions in the comments and on the Covering the Corner Discord.

Matt Lyons’s prediction: OVER

I can understand the cold, calculated heart of the ZiPS projection system not believing that Josh Naylor can outpace his 2022 numbers, but I believe he can with my squishy human brain. It has him at basically the same exact hitter as last year — one less home run, identical wRC+, a few more walks, and fewer strikeouts. Steamer isn’t far off either, for what it’s worth.

Last year, though he played in 122 games, it was hardly a healthy year. He was coming off an offseason where he spent most of the time rehabbing from a horrific leg injury that cut his 2021 season short, and — for obvious reasons — he probably was never 100% last season. Still, with everything working against him, he put up a 117 wRC+, a career-high 20 home runs, and some of the campaign’s most memorable moments.

If Naylor stays healthy in 2023, it could be his first full season in the majors and he’ll get plenty of rest days regardless based on how Terry Francona likes to rotate his players through the DH slot. There’s also talk of him playing some in the outfield, so the playing time will be there as long as he can get it.

Naylor’s maximum exit velocity (a leading indicator of quality contact) remained in the 89th percentile for all of baseball last year, while he continued to strike out at a very reasonable 16.1% clip. He’s not going to be blazing around the bases any time soon but beating last year’s .268 BABIP also seems reasonable. This all seems like a recipe for a pretty solid season in 2023.

Projecting Naylor for less than 1.7 fWAR is projecting disaster, in my humble opinion. If he doesn’t miss time and can’t hit that number, he and the Guards are in trouble.


Will Josh Naylor finish 2023 with an fWAR over or under 1.7?

This poll is closed

  • 85%
    (159 votes)
  • 14%
    (26 votes)
185 votes total Vote Now