Guardians Mid-Point 2023 Baseball Season | Review and Key Factors

July 1, 2023

Andy Billman

3 Things Around Guardians First 81 Games of the Season:

1 – The Young Arms 

At the beginning of the season, one was not expecting the youth movement that has happened to the Guardians in the starting pitching department.  With Shane Bieber, Triston McKenzie, Aaron Civale, Cal Quantrill, and Zach Plesac, no one coming out of spring training was expecting a huge shift in the starting rotation.  

With injuries to McKenzie, Civale, and Quantrill throughout the season and the disappointment of Plesac, the Guards were forced to bring up young pitching prospects to help Cleveland get through the first half.  

Hunter Gaddis, Peyton Battenfield, Logan Allen, Tanner Bibee, and Gavin Williams have all come up to start. In particular, Allen, Bibee, and Williams have not only come up but have had electric moments for the Guardians.

Also, in the bullpen, we have seen Xzavion Curry and Tim Herrin make multiple appearances that have helped the Guards with saving the bullpen.

Cleveland is known for its pitching success, grooming young arms to be successful on the major league level. And it has really paid off in 2023. The Guardians would not be in the hunt for the Central division crown if it were not for the youth movement in the pitching department. 

2 – Lack of Offense 

The lack of offense is staggering at times in the first half of the season, as Cleveland is last in home runs (and by a large margin), 27th in runs, and 26th in slugging.  

This has caused the Guardians to play a lot of nail-biting games. So far, in 81 games, they have played 35 one-run games going 16-19.  Almost half of their games are by one run.  Pass the Tums. 

There is some hope for the Guardians. They are tied for first in MLB with triples, 19, and tied for 7th in doubles with 148. 

They are 15th in total hits, right in the middle of MLB, and they don’t strike out as they are 2nd in MLB with the fewest strikeouts.  

Hopefully, in the second half, we can see a turnaround for some hitters, especially Andres Gimenez and Josh Bell, who has underperformed after signing big contracts.  Steven Kwan and Amed Rosario are two others who you would expect a tick-up with the numbers. 

3 – J-RAM and Josh Naylor 

The two clear leaders of this team are Jose Ramirez and Josh Naylor, who are literally carrying this club in the first half of the season on offense. 

J-RAM is batting .295 with 13 home runs and 52 RBIs.  But more than his numbers is how he plays the game. The steal of home on Thursday afternoon in the 10th inning will be talked about all season because of his passion for wanting to win.  

Ramirez also had the biggest hit so far in 2023. His game-winning walk-off double against St. Louis turned around the season. 

Naylor is .296 with 10 home runs and 58 RBIs and has multiple clutch hits in 2023 for the Guards, including his double in the 9th on May 1st against the Yankees that led to a comeback victory for the Guards in the Bronx.  Cementing his importance, Naylor is one of the MLB leaders with RBIs after the 7th inning.

Cleveland would be nowhere without J-RAM and Josh Naylor.

Final Thoughts

The Cleveland Guardians are 39-42 but only one game out of the division lead.  This young club has not come close to playing its best baseball and has survived injuries to the pitching staff.  We should mention that The Guards also have a young catcher Bo Naylor leading this staff.  If you like youth, be a Guardians fan!

At the end of the day.  With a weak AL Central, even with all of the struggles, Cleveland has a good opportunity to make the playoffs again in 2023. 

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