Brewers RF Position Battle: 3 Things Working In Tyler Naquin's Favor, 2 That Are Not

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Position battles are a fun thing to monitor every spring training. Currently, the Brewers have an opening in right field. Candidates for this position on the 40-man roster include Tyrone Taylor, Blake Perkins, and Brian Anderson. Non-roster invitees to consider include Sal Frelick, Joey Wiemer, and Tyler Naquin.

Unfortunately for Taylor, he is currently nursing an elbow injury and Opening Day is in question for him. Potentially not being ready to go opens the door for some other players, but other candidates on the 40-man roster such as Perkins and Anderson are not ideal fits. The former has not yet made his MLB debut while the latter is better suited to play third base than outfield.

As we look at the non-roster invitees, Frelick is viewed more as a center fielder and Wiemer may need some more time in the minors before being ready for the big leagues. This leaves Naquin. He may seem like a logical fit, however this isn't as clear cut as it may seem.

In this article, we will take a look at three things working in Tyler Naquin's favor to grab the Brewers' starting right field spot and two things working against him.

Let's start with Naquin's ability at the plate. The seven-year veteran has been exactly league average offensively throughout his career, but at times he has shown the ability to hit for power. In 2021, he launched 19 home runs and collected 70 RBI. While he is not a game changing middle of the lineup bat, his overall ability at the plate is viewed as a strength of his.

The counter to this is the fact that he is a left-handed batter. Other outfielders on the Brewers' 40-man that hit from the same side include Christian Yelich, Garrett Mitchell, and Jesse Winker. Naquin has just a .210 batting average against southpaws with a .611 OPS for his career that also includes being under the Mendoza line last season.

In the outfield, right field is where Naquin has played most of his career. He has tallied 1,785 innings at the position, but has experience in all three spots. Baseball Savant has him in the 94th percentile in regards to arm strength, which is ideal for a right fielder.

On the contrary, Naquin is not the greatest roamer of the outfield. According to FanGraphs, he has not posted a positive DRS over the past three seasons. Additionally, Baseball Savant has him in the bottom eighth percentile in regards to outfield jump.

Finally, the last positive working in Naquin's favor is the fact that he may be the best choice to play right field, especially if Taylor isn't ready. As they say, the best ability is availability and while Naquin currently has that, Taylor does not.

It's hard to ignore the facts that the Brewers would have three left-handed hitting outfielders and a weaker defender in the corner if Naquin makes the roster, but in the past the Brewers have given veteran players the first shot at playing time. I wouldn't be surprised if this same concept applies to Naquin this year as he wins out a roster spot.

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