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AL Rookie of the Year Candidate – Tyler Naquin

Cleveland Indians‘ outfielder, Tyler Naquin, very well could be the 2016 AL Rookie of the Year when it is all said and done. The 25-year-old has already won AL Rookie of Month twice – June and July 2016.

AL Rookie of the Year Candidate – Tyler Naquin

Road to the Show

Naquin was drafted by the Baltimore Orioles in the 33rd round of the 2009 MLB Draft. He declined and instead decided to attend Texas A&M. In 2011, the Aggie was named Big 12 Player of the Year.

Tribe Life

In 2012, the Indians selected Tyler Naquin with the 15th overall pick. Deservingly, Naquin finally made the 25-man roster during 2016 Spring Training.

A .308 batting average, 14 home runs, 39 RBI and four stolen bases is nothing less an exceptional performance from the rookie thus far. His bat isn’t the only thing in his game that is excelling; his defensive ability in the outfield is phenomenal for a player Naquin’s age. As of Aug. 10th, Naquin led all AL rookies in AVG, OBP, SLG and XBH. This stat line quickly made Naquin the front-runner for the award.

However, at the beginning of August, his pace dropped. What has been an extremely productive summer for Naquin is beginning to wind down.

In June, Naquin hit .338/.434/.785. In July, .348/.416/.681. Come the beginning of this month, Naquin began to slip. Over his first thirty at bats in August, he only averaged .080/.172/.200. This speaks for itself, a significant drop off.

Honestly, this is just a rough patch that every player encounters at some point throughout the course of an MLB season. His mechanics remain the same; once he gets his timing back on a consistent level, he will be fine. Naquin is not the player to allow a short slump to get to him.

With that said, Naquin surged in the middle of this month. Back to back walk-offs seem to have him back in stride as a rookie front runner. First was a sac fly game winner; then, Naquin managed a spectacular, walk-off inside the park home run. He is continuing to add to his resume come time for Rookie of the Year voting.

AL Rookie Race

Naquin is undoubtedly in the running for AL Rookie of the Year. Frankly, right now only starting pitcher Michael Fulmer of the Detroit Tigers stands in his way. Fulmer could honestly be considered for the AL Cy Young as well. He leads all AL pitchers in ERA (2.25) and WAR (5.3). But with seven weeks left in the season, a lot can change.

Regardless, Naquin didn’t win back to back AL Rookie of the Month awards just by chance. Unfortunately, one other thing that could hurt his chances is playing time. Will the voters be content giving the award to a position player like Naquin who doesn’t play on a daily basis? This is a question that remains to be answered.

Finishing second in the award race would be deja vu in Cleveland. In 2015, Francisco Lindor finished second in the running for the award.

This award would be a tremendous accomplishment for the Cleveland Indians and outfielder Tyler Naquin. Last time the tribe had an AL Rookie of the Year -1990, Sandy Alomar Jr.

It’s been 26 years. Can Tyler Naquin change that?

Which of the following was the best moment of the first half: in LastWordOnSports’s Hangs on LockerDome

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