Based on ZiPS projections, Bo Naylor is expected to finish 2023 with the following stats:
116 G, 477 PA, 14. HR, 9 SB, 10.5% BB%, 30.2% K%, .210/.300/.367, 92 wRC+, 2.3 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: UNDER
ZiPS has Bo Naylor down for a healthy number of plate appearances, with 14 home runs but striking out a third of the time — all in all not far off from his minor-league numbers but with fewer walks. A lot of his fWAR total comes from his defense, which ZiPS seems to think very highly of. I know there have been some questions about his defense in scouting reports along his development path, but he’s worked in the last couple of years to put those to rest. I’m willing to side with ZiPS in that regard.
The Guardians gave Naylor a cup of coffee last year with five games down the stretch, though he didn’t register a hit in eight plate appearances and generally looked overwhelmed at the plate. I doubt that makes an impact on this season, however, because he was mainly up for sightseeing and in case of emergency. Not nearly enough to make conclusions about his ability.
Either way, Naylor is likely to start 2023 in Triple-A while Mike Zunino handles the catching duties.
If Zunino goes down with an injury or struggles over a long stretch, though? He’s going to have an incredibly short leash if Naylor tears up Triple-A like he did last year (.257/.366/.514, 15 HR). Because if Naylor proves that his brief MLB stint was truly just nerves or not being comfortable, he’ll be the starter with no looking back; there’s nothing left for him to really prove in the minors. Zunino is only in Cleveland on a one-year, $6 million deal — if the future catcher is ready, he’s going to get the reps.
But with that said, I don’t know if Zunino struggles enough to earn Naylor 116 games behind the plate, especially as a sub-par bat as ZiPS suggests. I’m going with the under on this one, but not by much. Guardians fans were spoiled last year with so many rookies coming up and making immediate impacts, but catching is hard, man. He might take more than a week to acclimate, and that’s OK. I think Naylor gets a healthy look sometime later this year, and maybe earns the starting job, but doesn’t really take off until 2024.
Will Bo Naylor finish with an fWAR over or under 2.3?
This poll is closed
Tomorrow’s player: Aaron Civale