Tyler Naquin’s Blossoming Power

Recently the Cleveland Indians were able to salvage their four-game series against the Seattle Mariners with a 5-3 victory, thanks to Tyler Naquin. In the top of the 8th inning with teammate Rajai Davis on first base, Naquin again found himself in an 0-2 count. Once again, it seemed that the rookie would strike out…especially because he was facing an excellent reliever in Joaquin Benoit. Going into the game, Benoit found himself with a respectable 3.27 ERA, 1.09 WHIP, and a BAA of just .154. But when Naquin came to the plate all of that was about to change. On an 0-2 pitch, Benoit threw Naquin a changeup down and in that he promptly golfed into the stands of Safeco Field giving the Tribe a 4-2 lead in the late innings. This advantage would end up sticking for the Tribe as they went on to split the four-game series and remain in first place in the AL Central.

Naquin is no stranger to hitting homers in the big leagues. In fact, at the time that was his fourth homer in his last six games. Before his most recent recall on June 1st, Naquin hadn’t yet hit one out of the park in the bigs. But now it appears that he has found his power stroke, and his team couldn’t be happier. Naquin always had a great swing; even looking back on his days at Texas A&M, that was more than apparent (he won two Big-12 batting titles). It appears now that he’s beginning to develop power. In the minors, Naquin managed just 22 homers in his 1542 plate appearances, a modest 70.1 PA/HR. In his short time in the majors this number has dropped significantly down to 22.3 PA/HR. In other words, around 27 HR in a 600 plate appearances. The power that he’s shown thus far has been quite impressive, and there’s a chance that it’s sustainable.

Naquin has shown the ability, throughout his minor and now major-league career, to possess a great swing with the ability to make good, solid contact which has translated well to this point. Naquin has a 41% hard-hit rate. Qualified players who have a hard-hit rate above 39% this season include the following list:

 # Player Team  PA  Hard%  HR  OPS  wRC+ wOBA
1 David Ortiz Red Sox 226 47.2 % 16 1.153 200 .470
2 Joey Votto Reds 248 43.5 % 11 .793 108 .338
3 Matt Carpenter Cardinals 255 43.2 % 9 .936 150 .394
4 Chris Carter Brewers 241 43.0 % 16 .803 105 .334
5 Trevor Story Rockies 258 43.0 % 16 .866 111 .362
6 Mike Napoli Indians 232 42.9 % 14 .799 115 .340
7 Chase Utley Dodgers 222 42.8 % 4 .748 110 .330
8 Michael Conforto Mets 211 42.8 % 9 .778 111 .330
9 Miguel Sano Twins 211 42.7 % 11 .799 116 .344
10 Yasmany Tomas Diamondbacks 208 41.1 % 7 .755 97 .324
11 Josh Donaldson Blue Jays 265 40.9 % 14 .890 139 .378
12 Victor Martinez Tigers 224 40.9 % 9 .925 149 .391
13 Khris Davis Athletics 215 40.8 % 14 .753 100 .316
14 Evan Longoria Rays 250 40.8 % 14 .865 134 .363
15 Curtis Granderson Mets 248 40.8 % 11 .742 102 .317
16 Buster Posey Giants 212 40.5 % 8 .766 108 .323
17 Giancarlo Stanton Marlins 214 40.4 % 12 .731 95 .315
18 Adam Duvall Reds 205 40.3 % 17 .902 135 .377
19 Jake Lamb Diamondbacks 225 40.3 % 11 .867 127 .368
20 Mike Trout Angels 263 39.8 % 13 .963 164 .405
21 Kris Bryant Cubs 257 39.8 % 14 .886 139 .380
22 Chris Davis Orioles 250 39.7 % 13 .795 114 .343
23 Corey Seager Dodgers 258 39.6 % 14 .869 135 .368
24 Mark Trumbo Orioles 251 39.0 % 20 .956 155 .403
25 Byung-ho Park Twins 201 39.0 % 11 .777 109 .334
26 Manny Machado Orioles 264 39.0 % 15 .968 155 .402

From the chart, 20 of the 26 players listed are in double digits in homers. If you take their ratio of HR/PA and multiply by 600 you find that they range anywhere from 27 HR to 48 HR potential. There’s no guarantee that any of these power hitters will keep their current pace, but one thing’s for sure, players who have a relatively high hard-hit rate are more likely to hit home runs and extra-base hits, and ultimately are more likely be more productive for their team. If we go back even further now, say the last three seasons (2013-2015), we get the following group:

 

# Name Team PA Hard% HR OPS wRC+ wOBA
1 Miguel Cabrera Tigers 1848 43.7 % 87 .981 168 .417
2 David Ortiz Red Sox 1816 43.7 % 102 .915 141 .382
3 Paul Goldschmidt Diamondbacks 1884 42.2 % 88 .968 159 .408
4 Giancarlo Stanton Marlins 1460 41.9 % 88 .915 150 .389
5 J.D. Martinez – – – 1447 40.9 % 68 .840 129 .359
6 Lucas Duda Mets 1534 40.6 % 72 .817 131 .355
7 Matt Kemp – – – 1537 40.0 % 54 .786 120 .341
8 Andrew McCutchen Pirates 2007 39.9 % 69 .917 157 .395
9 Chris Davis Orioles 1868 39.9 % 126 .891 140 .378
10 Jarrod Saltalamacchia – – – 1132 39.5 % 34 .746 104 .327
11 Pedro Alvarez Pirates 1550 39.1 % 81 .760 110 .327
12 Mike Trout Angels 2103 39.0 % 104 .973 172 .413

The chart says it all: the average HR% (HR/PA) of this group is 4.8%, or in other words about 29 HR per 600 PA. The average OPS of this group is an impressive .876, and even more impressive the average wOBA is .374. If Naquin can continue to make solid contact in his plate appearances, as he has proven throughout his career, he could be a very special player.

In the case of Tyler Naquin, he has: 99 PA, 41 Hard%, 4 HR, .870 OPS, 136 wRC+, and a .371 wOBA. His numbers correlate quite well to the rest of the group; in fact, his OPS, wRC+, and wOBA are all above or around the average in comparison. Obviously this is kind of a small sample size for Naquin. It’s nearly impossible to tell what kind of player Naquin will become with less than 100 major-league plate appearances, but there is definitely hope.

We hoped you liked reading Tyler Naquin’s Blossoming Power by John Avsec!

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sgnthlr85
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sgnthlr85

Nice post. I’d be curious to see his avg distance for fly balls and homers.