Cleveland Indians outfielder Tyler Naquin is looking to remain on the roster all season, and not just as an injury replacement.
Tyler Naquin will forever be a folk hero to Cleveland Indians fans.
His heroics, specifically on one swing of the bat, in 2016 will go down in team history, but Naquin is now looking to become a mainstay on this team.
Naquin is in the tweener zone of being the first guy up and the first guy right back down when injuries occur in the outfield. The injury to Lonnie Chisenhall at the start of the year is why Naquin is here now, and the good news is that he has done more than just fill in.
Naquin is currently slashing .292/.333/.375. He is not a qualified hitter, but if he was he would be way ahead of Jose Ramirez, who leads the qualified group with an average of .232. For reference, Michael Brantley leads all hitters on the team with a mark of .344.
The key for Naquin is to play well enough to where Terry Francona feels comfortable enough to leave him in the lineup. Having Brandon Guyer and Rajai Davis on the roster as well sets up platoon situations, but neither of those two have done much on offense. They have combined for 11 hits in 75 at-bats this season. Naquin has 14 in 48 at-bats.
Chisenhall’s health remains in question as his calf continues to flare up when everything seems to be going well. But if he is ready, it will be interesting to see what happens with Naquin. If he is hitting around .300 while Davis has no value on offense, the team may decide to part ways with the veteran.
Davis is a weapon on the bases and provides a veteran presence, but it is hard to carry a player on the 25-man roster for five months if he isn’t an asset on offense. Remember the Michael Martinez days?
But we have seen hot starts from Naquin before, so he may be sent down if Chisenhall returns, remaining an option to come back up in September and compete for a playoff roster spot. Knowing Francona and this team, the veterans may be given more time to come around, if they ever do at all.