Tyler Naquin's mad dash home on his walk-off home run provided one of the highlights of the Indians' incredible 2016 season. The American League Rookie of the Year Award race, with Tigers starter Michael Fulmer and Yankees catcher Gary Sánchez, was just a bit too far of a reach for
Tyler Naquin's mad dash home on his walk-off home run provided one of the highlights of the Indians' incredible 2016 season. The American League Rookie of the Year Award race, with Tigers starter Michael Fulmer and Yankees catcher Gary Sánchez, was just a bit too far of a reach for him.
Naquin finished third in the voting, receiving a pair of second-place votes behind the winner Fulmer, and 14 third-place votes out of 30 ballots.
:: AL Rookie of the Year voting totals ::
The Indians have two more finalists for the Baseball Writers' Association of America Awards coming up this week, with Terry Francona up for AL Manager of the Year on Tuesday and Corey Kluber a finalist for the AL Cy Young Award, which will be announced on Wednesday.
• All-time AL Rookie of the Year Award winners
Esurance MLB Awards week concludes Friday on MLB Network and MLB.com at 8 p.m. ET with the MLB Awards. Categories include Best Major Leaguer, Hitter, Pitcher, Rookie, Executive and Manager.
Naquin, a first-round pick by Cleveland in the 2012 Draft, was the only finalist who was on a big league roster on Opening Day. The 25-year-old filled the bill in center field for much of the first half with Abraham Almonte suspended, and Naquin batted .296 with 14 home runs and 43 RBIs in 116 games. He ranked second among AL rookie position players with a 2.5 Wins Above Replacement.
"We put him in a challenging spot," Indians general manager Mike Chernoff said at the end of the season. "It's pretty rare -- at least in our experience -- for a player who had no Major League experience [to be] an everyday player who made the team out of Spring Training."
Naquin turned in a .296/.372/.514 slash line in 365 plate appearances. The center fielder also ranked second among AL rookie hitters in Weighted Runs Created Plus (135), while finishing third in the AL rookie class in games, runs scored (52), on-base percentage and slugging percentage. With the exception of two brief stints at Triple-A because of a roster crunch, Naquin was a regular part of the batting order.
"He battled some adversity early on," Chernoff said, "with some ups and downs and the uncertainty of our roster at that time. The way he went down, worked really hard when he was down in the Minor Leagues, came back and hit the ground running when he came back, was really exceptional to see."
All 14 of Naquin's home runs came between June and August, during which he posted a .988 OPS for the Indians. He had a four-RBI game on June 18, a two-homer showing with six RBIs on July 20, and he then provided the signature moment of Cleveland's season on Aug. 19. On that night against Toronto, Naquin delivered a walk-off, inside-the-park home run -- a feat that had not been accomplished by a Tribe hitter since 1916.
Jason Beck has been a reporter for MLB.com since 2002.