The Week In Sox: For Now, Eduardo Nunez Is The Best Player In Baseball … And That Might Be All That Matters




Eduardo Nunez certainly knows how to make a splash.

Over the past two weeks, Nunez has batted .404 with 14 RBIs, four home runs, four stolen bases and eight runs scored.

Yahoo Fantasy Baseball is by no means the be-all and end-all of player valuation, but Nunez ranks No. 1 out of all players in baseball during the same stretch for fantasy production.

It’d be silly to expect that level of production to continue (though no one would complain if it did).

But his level of performance during the short timespan after arriving in Boston may wind up being the definitive moment of the regular season (though Rafael Devers can certainly claim at least a portion of that particular discussion).

The Red Sox are 7-2 since Nunez joined the club — a stretch during which the club reclaimed first place in the AL East and quickly built the division lead back out to three games.

Not that it’s fair, or even directly comparable, but it’s hard not to notice the immediate impact that Nunez has made on the Red Sox compared with the near-miss in Todd Frazier, who has struggled since arriving with the Yankees.

Nunez, as a member of the Red Sox, has hit four home runs with 12 RBIs, a batting average of .400 and an OBP of .425, not to mention three stolen bases in nine games with the Red Sox. He’s also turned in starts at second base and shortstop in the field — an he was acquired as a third baseman.

Meanwhile Frazier has hit two home runs, driven in five runs and is batting .200 with an OBP of .333 through 17 games as a Yankee.

Devers, since his callup to the major leagues 11 games ago, is hitting .349 with three home runs and six RBIs (and eight runs scored).

It’s all conditional — neither Devers or Nunez should, statistically speaking, hold to that pace of production. But they produced when the team needed to. They both injected life into a lineup that had effectively died at the plate over the course of the month prior to their arrival in Boston.

I haven’t loved Dave Dombrowski’s free agent signings (with the exception of Mitch Moreland) — but his trades, when you really get down to it, have been spot on.

He paid big when he had to, and has his two most consistent pitchers this year (Chris Sale and Drew Pomeranz) as a result. And he’s held back when he needed to – passing on Frazier, shoring up the bullpen with Addison Reed, and of course bringing Nunez over for little return.

Losing Travis Shaw hurts, and has hurt all year — especially with Tyler Thornburg on the shelf. But that trade may balance out in the coming years. Or maybe it won’t.

It appears, though, Dombrowski was right in believing Devers would force a logjam at third base with Shaw sooner rather than later.

When playoff spots are decided by fractions, capitalized moments and missed opportunities, this past week may be the one we point should the Red Sox push ahead and win the division.

Coincidental Stat Of The Week

The Red Sox are 29-26 with David Price on the active roster this year. They’re now 34-23 without him on the active roster.

Bold Statements That I At Least Halfway Believe

  • The Yankees will not make the playoffs. They did more than anyone else to improve their chances before the trade deadline, but this just doesn’t look like a team built to perform down the stretch. Sonny Gray was a splashy move, but he traditionally gets hit hard by the AL East; Jaime Garcia was a serviceable NL starting pitcher — but serviceable translates to something less-than for anyone making the transition from NL to AL; CC Sabathia has looked better this year but one wonders if he’ll tire; The defense is suspect; and the offense hasn’t looked the same since the All-Star break. Plus, the lineup is stocked with young (albeit exciting) players that opponents are still stockpiling scouting books on — the thicker those books get, the more the player has to overcome to perform. Not that they won’t get there, but it’ll be an upward climb.
  • The Diamondbacks will have a deeper postseason run than the Dodgers. I know, I know, no one is playing better baseball than the Dodgers.  But much of their historic run (44-7 over their past 51 games) has been against some of baseball’s lesser teams. Of the 44 wins, one was against the NL East-leading Nationals, two against the AL Central-leading Indians, three against the wild-card contending Royals and three each against division rivals Arizona and Colorado. The remaining 32 wins have come against Cincinnati (last place, NL Central), the Mets (fourth place, NL East), the Angels (third place, AL West), the Padres (fourth place NL West), the Marlins (second place, NL East), the White Sox (last place, AL Central), the Braves (third place, NL East), the Twins (third-place, AL Central) and the Giants (last in all of baseball). So 12 wins against postseason contenders, and the remainder against teams either at or near the cellars of their respective divisions, or the middle level of some of baseball’s worst divisions. It’s not that the Dodgers aren’t really good, it’s just that they haven’t been tested with the same regularity, or to the same degree, as teams competing in the AL East or the NL Central. That being said, the NL West (Padres and Giants aside) is a very good division, and these last two months — with increased matchups against Arizona and Colorado — should be quite a show to watch.