Cleveland Guardians first baseman Josh Naylor has won some hardware this offseason, as the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame has recognized the infielder (and occasional DH) with their annual Tip O’Neill Award.
Named after pitcher and Woodstock, Ontario product James “Tip” O’Neill, the award is handed out each year to the Canadian player “judged to have excelled in individual achievement and team contribution while adhering to baseball’s highest ideals.” A committee discussion by the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame at the conclusion of the season decides the winner each year.
Jeremy Diamond, chair of the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame’s board of directors, commented on Naylor taking home the honor:
“Josh Naylor had his best major league season in 2023, and his energy and enthusiasm for the game of baseball make him so much fun to watch… He has also become a wonderful role model through his work with the Ronald McDonald House and other charities. We’re proud to recognize him with this award.”
Staving off competition from Edouard Julien (Twins), Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (Blue Jays), and Matt Brash (Mariners), the Mississauga, Ontario native had one of his best offensive years to date, suiting up in 121 games and posting a .308/.354/.489 slash line with an .842 OPS. Naylor added 17 home runs and collected a career-high 97 RBIs while amassing a 2.5 bWAR at first base for the Guardians.
He led the team in RBIs, batting average, slugging percentage, OPS, and OPS+ (133), while finishing second in OBP and third in doubles (31). He and his brother Bo made history earlier this year when they became the first brothers to hit home runs for the same team in the same inning.
Off the field, Naylor worked with the Ronald McDonald Family Rooms in Cleveland to start the Cooking with Naylor program, which provides baseball-themed lunches for children and parents. He also supported the Shoe Box Project in the offseason to support women in emergency shelters located in the Toronto area.
This is Naylor’s first Tip O’Neill Award, and he joins past award winners Guerrero, Joey Votto, Larry Walker, Justin Morneau, Ryan Dempster, Jason Bay, and John Axford (amongst many others).
The first Canadian player to receive the honor was Melville, Saskatchewan native Terry Puhl back in 1984, while Jamie Romak became the first player to win the award playing for a team outside of North America while suiting up for SK Wyverns (now the SSG Landers) of the KBO in 2020. Last season, the honor went to Blue Jays closer Jordan Romano.