No more defending Eduardo Nunez
Not as a human being mind you, but as a baseball player. I detest the fact that we have kept this guy on our team, let alone the fact that Joe Girardi keeps penciling him in to play defense now & then.
He has played a total of eighteen innings in 2012 (as of this moment I am writing this piece) and has already committed three errors (one at third base, one at shortstop and now one at second base).
Two of those errors directly led to four unearned runs ON TWO DIFFERENT OCCASIONS, both times in the first inning and both times leading to insanely high pitch counts for our starters after just one frame.
Now I know what you’re thinking.
“But Smalls, it’s a small sample size. The season is young”.
But oh, it goes back into last season my friends!
Last season Nunez had a total of 20 errors in 273 total chances at third base and shortstop, which projects to a staggeringly bad season if he were an everyday player.
Derek Jeter, for instance, a widely maligned shortstop whose range is supposedly limited to roughly the width of his stance, handled 553 chances last season and made just six errors. Given the same number of chances, Nunez would have committed 47 errors last season.
But wait, it gets worse.
Not only does Nunez not have Jeter’s hands or arm; according to at least one website, he doesn’t even have Jeter’s range. According to statistics compiled by MLB.com, Jeter’s range factor is 3.45; Nunez’s is 2.80. And Nunez, of course, is 13 years younger than the 37-year-old Jeter.
The numbers are similarly bad when Nunez plays third; he had nine errors in 73 chances this season, with a minuscule range factor of 1.76.
Compare that with Alex Rodriguez, who despite being 12 years older than Nunez and a converted shortstop coming off hip and knee surgeries, has just five errors in 202 chances with a range factor of 2.80. In his last full year, A-Rod committed seven errors in 292 chances; the way Nunez has played last year, that would translate to 24 errors.
Clearly, defense is not a strong suit for Nunez. In fact, it is a glaring weakness.
And yet, the Yankees continue to defend the defensively challenged. When Nunez was throwing the ball early in the season as a third baseman, Joe Girardi said it was because he was really a shortstop. When he began booting balls as a shortstop, it was because he was being moved around so much.
But it is now unavoidable to conclude that when asked specifically about Nunez, Girardi plays much better defense than his backup shortstop does.
Yankees fans, myself included, joke that his name should be spelled NunEz.
But this time around that “E” doesn’t stand for errors. It stands for excuses.
Source: ESPNNewYork contributed to this post.