The Red Sox sorely miss the Laser Show, but it is becoming increasingly clear that Eduardo Nunez is not the solution, rather the temporary fix.
The Red Sox were in the sweet zone against the Yankees on Saturday night with Chris Sale in total control and an offense that was thunder. Back-to-back games that were blowouts, but within that game was at at-bat that symbolized my sheer frustration with Eduardo Nunez. Nunez just hacked away at three straight pitches that were well out of the strike zone.
My view of Nunez is tainted over his remarkable performance in 2017. Nunez hit .321 and provided a spark when needed and certainly a nice replacement for the injured Dustin Pedroia, but this season is a different and more reality-based assessment.
As mentioned, Nunez was a key catalyst in the Red Sox ability to win the AL East crown last season. He provided a veteran presence with defensive versatility, but this season has proved to be a major liability both offensively & defensively.
A quick glance at FanGraphs confirmed the obvious – Nunez is a free swinger’s crown prince. A 41.8% O-Swing%. That statistic is seventh among all MLB players with at least 150 plate appearances. The figure represents pitches outside the hitting zone and Nunez is road kill for those.
The other attachment to noted free swingers is an inability to draw a walk. How does Nunez do? This season Nunez has a 3.9 BB% and a 17.6 K%. Nunez does not embrace walks, but certainly strikeouts.
Additionally, Nunez is just killing this team on defense. According to the defensive metrics, Nunez is the runaway leader in Defensive Runs Saved (DRS), but “leader” as in -11 DRS. No player is even close as Pedroia on one knee is more capable.
Nunez is a borderline regular and has been for a substantial portion of his nine-year career. A most capable fill-in until you realize his limitations on a day-to-day basis. Poor plate discipline and equally porous defense surfaces.
There’s certainly need for a permanent solution beyond the usual rotation of Brock Holt, Tzu-Wei Lin, injured Pedroia, and Nunez.