It’s a bummer that Jeimer Candelario exceeded the minimum threshold to be considered a rookie last season. Otherwise, he’d have a strong chance of being 2018’s AL Rookie of the year.
Candelario was the prize acquired in July’s trade of Justin Wilson and Alex Avila to the Cubs. Considered one of the top hitting prospects in all of baseball, Candelario did not disappoint when he got to the Motor City.
He started 2017 out at Triple-A with the Cubs before seeing some time in the majors. After only hitting .152 in 11 games with the Cubs, he was dealt along with Isaac Paredes to the Tigers. Candelario went 1-for-2 in one August appearance, before spending the rest of the month in Triple-A.
He only hit .264 in 28 games at Triple-A before getting a September call-up.
Candelario’s bat came alive after the promotion. He slashed a blistering .330/.406/.468 with seven doubles and two home runs.
Candelario should get every opportunity to be the teams starting third baseman next season. With Nicholas Castellanos transitioning to right field there is nothing standing in his way. While he will likely go through some ups and downs, his high walk-rate (9.2%) should keep his OBP up even if his .392 BABIP returns to normal.
All in all, Candelario can be expected to post somewhere around a .270 average and 15-20 home runs, if he stays healthy. While that is not elite by any means, a 24-year-old third baseman who can post those kinds of numbers is a fantastic piece for a rebuilding team, and one that should become a staple in Detroit’s offense for years to come.