We all thought we were done with every day Eduardo Nunez, huh? Well, with third baseman Alex Rodriguez out for 4-6 weeks following successful surgery, we’re going to see Nunez every day, just like he did when he filled in for Derek Jeter during the captain’s DL stint. The shoes Nunez is going to be called on to fill now, though, are definitely bigger. He may not be manning the most important defensive position in front of home plate, but Rodriguez’s bat is beyond hard to replace, even if he’s slumping.
I’m not thrilled about this, but since Eric Chavez is still on the shelf and just experienced a setback, it’s something we all have to live with again. But, was Nunez that bad in his time starting and has he been all that bad overall in 2011?
Nunez is sporting a 107 wRC+ right now (.332 wOBA) thanks to an inflated .156 IsoP, due to that monster series he had against the Mets. Despite the just-above-average offensive output, Nunez has been exactly replacement level (0.0 fWAR) thanks to a -6.4 runs defensive mark.
Before starting for Jeter, Nunez hit .224/.255/.367/.622. During the time he started in place of the injured Jeter, Nunez rocked an impressive .318/.366/.485/.851 line, though that was buoyed by the Mets series; before that series, he was hitting just .241/.302/.328/.629. Discounting that Mets series is unfair, though.
Nunez has shown a few things during his 2011 campaign. He has definitely shown flashes of great brilliance–like that Mets series–but the whole picture hasn’t yet been painted. There are times when I watch him at the plate and I wonder if he has any sort of approach up there at all. He’ll make a flashy play in the field, then bobble a ball that’s hit right at him. Maybe consistent playing time will help that, but I still don’t have too much faith in Nunez to be anything more than replacement level.
But that’s okay. Because that’s exactly what the Yankees will need out of third base while Rodriguez recovers from his surgery. Nunez may not be the best option, but with Chavez hurt and Brandon Laird not knocking on the door, he’s the default choice.
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