Tyler Naquin was literally and figuratively a hit on the Cleveland Indians last year. The Indians’ rookie center fielder continued as a dependent force who could also hit a mean double and inside-the-park homer.
The 2016 season marked Naquin’s first year in MLB and he was voted third place as AL Rookie of the Year. At 24 years old, his first year on the Indians was remarkable, as he proved himself as a serious asset to the Tribe.
Naquin held his own in the batting lineup. He hit .296/.372/.886 in the regular season, although his breakout moment occurred towards the end. No one could forget his game-winning, inside-the-park home run against the Toronto Blue Jays in August. Although he didn’t make much headway in the postseason, he definitely helped get the Tribe there.
His defense was something to behold, too. The league fielding percentage stood at .986 last year, while his was .990 in 109 games. He had a 2.07 RF/9, which was slightly less than league average, but he had 183 putouts and six assists.
He won Rookie of the Month both in June and July last year and landed tenth in the AL for his five doubles.
Linking his MiLB history up with his work so far in MLB, we might see a slight drop in his batting, followed by a surge of power. In 2012, he batted .270 but then dribbled down to .225 half way through 2013 before bouncing back to .277. He did much of the same between 2014 and 2015, falling to .263 before leveling out to a .300 batting average in 2015.
Predictably, the answer to the question is yes, but slowly and in a good way. Naquin’s history shows his raw talents going through a semi-metamorphic period, meaning he shold finesse his skills to become an even better player. Naquin may turn out to be one of the Indians’ best investments in upcoming seasons.
Kayla is a writer for Outside Pitch MLB. Follow her on Twitter @KB_Kremer.