The Unlikeliest Spark Plug: Eduardo Nunez

When the Red Sox acquired Eduardo Nunez from the Giants on July 25th, it was a move viewed by many as quite simply not enough. By adding Nunez to an already struggling lineup, it seemed that Dombrowski was being naive in trusting his core of players to produce when many fans and media alike were clamoring for a big bat and instead opting for a player that has been viewed as a utility type his entire career. Since then however, on the heels of a 4-game sweep of the White Sox, a series opening victory against the rival Rays, and in the midst of a 7 game winning streak that has seen Nunez as the catalyst of it all, those doubters are now all but gone.

In 10 games since coming over from San Francisco, Nunez is hitting a hefty .422 with an OPS of 1.229, has already matched his HR total from San Fran with 4, and has added 12 RBIs and 3 SBs. For an offense that was desperate for a spark, Nunez has been a revelation. By adding both Devers and Nunez to the Sox lineup, what had previously been a starting 9 that seemed to nosedive offensively after the 5-hitter has turned into a dynamic force that can beat opponents in more ways than one.

Of the 11(!) home runs the Red Sox have in August, which is among the league’s best so far this month, 4 have been hit by Nunez. For a player who had been stuck in the pitcher’s paradise that is AT&T Park, he seems to be ecstatic by the idea of peppering balls off the Monster.

Now while Nunez has brought a potent bat, let’s not be so quick to call him Omar Vizquel with the glove. With that said, he may not play one position spectacularly, but he can play many positions adequately. In his career Nunez has spent a majority of his time at both SS and 3B, while also having appeared at 2B and all 3 outfield positions. This comes with added value considering recent stalwarts in Bogaerts, who has struggled since the all-star break but seems to be turning it around, Benintendi struggling of late, and Pedroia had been out with injury. Nunez gives Farrell the flexibility to move him around the field and in the lineup all while giving him the option of resting some players as we move further down the stretch.

With the Red Sox seemingly hitting a stride here, and in the process rebuilding their lead over the Yankees in the division, it’s been exciting to watch a player some deemed as an underwhelming addition thrive while emerging as a leader in a lineup that so desperately needed one. In the event that Nunez fails to maintain his .400+ average into October for this team, I think we can all say at this point that he has been a welcome addition and has, dare I say it, given this offense an identity at a crucial time in the season.


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