Tyler Naquin Injury Leaves Hole in Cleveland Indians Outfield

Tyler Naquin Suffers Torn ACL Making an Incredible Catch Friday Night

Just a few days after losing José Ramírez to a broken hand, the Cleveland Indians suffered another blow when Tyler Naquin tore his ACL making an incredible catch Friday night. Naquin robbed Joey Wendle of the Tampa Bay Rays of extra bases to keep the game scoreless. However, Naquin ran into the left field wall and landed awkwardly on his right knee. He was carted off the field and later diagnosed with a torn ACL, an injury that will end his season.

Naquin is in the midst of a great season, hitting .288 with a .792 OPS. The run-saving catch he made against rival Wild Card contender Tampa Bay is exactly the kind of hustle and energy Cleveland fans have come to know and love from Naquin. Covering the corner outfield positions this year, Naquin owns a 4.6 defensive WAR. That mark puts him in the same category as elite players like George Springer (4.6) and Cody Bellinger (4.7).

But now, the Indians are without a superb defender and reliable bottom of the order bat to help them during their September playoff run. The left-handed outfielder has also been a significant part of Cleveland’s second-half run, batting .324 since the All-Star break.

With the first round of September call-ups already arriving, the Indians have some options as to who can play left field for the remainder of 2019. Here are some names to watch as the Indians enter the final month of the regular season.

Greg Allen

Greg Allen will probably get the most playing time in left field now. His speed and defense make him valuable. However, he has been inconsistent at the plate. In 66 games, he has a 1.7 defensive WAR but also owns an OPS of .665.

However, with Franmil Reyes destroying the ball now as the every day DH, the Indians may feel comfortable sacrificing a little offense for Allen’s defensive contributions. It is worth noting Allen has a .783 OPS with runners in scoring position. We’ve seen glimpses of Allen’s offensive potential, so maybe starting full-time will allow for some consistency.

Jake Bauers

In 2019, Jake Bauers has had the offensive limitations of Greg Allen, but without the defense to make up for it. The 23-year old has tons of power potential but also struggles to get on base.

If Bauers can get it going offensively, he would definitely be the top choice to play left, or even swapping with Reyes as the DH. Bauers would need to turn it around quickly though, as he’s hitting just .185 in the second half. He would probably best be served as a pinch hitter for Allen late in games.

Bradley Zimmer

Bradley Zimmer stands as the most exciting replacement for Naquin. He’s missed all of 2019 so far with a shoulder injury, but is in the middle of a rehab stint and looks to join the big league club soon.

Zimmer was regarded as one of the Indians’ top prospects for years and has displayed his raw talent when healthy. He has the defensive capabilities of a center-fielder, so putting him in left would maintain the elite defensive outfield Naquin played, alongside with Oscar Mercado and Yasiel Puig. He’s already making stellar plays in Triple-A.

Zimmer is also hitting .333 with a .973 during his 14 game rehab stint in the minors. Performing in the majors in obviously a different thing, but Zimmer looks promising and has the most upside of all the Indians’ options to replace Tyler Naquin.

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