by Ray Kuhn
It took a few seasons of being a utility player, but Eduardo Nunez finally got a chance to show what he could do last season. Nunez saw a substantial increase to his at bats, 553 between his time in Minnesota and San Francisco, and there were results to match.
But can we expect a repeat from in Nunez in 2017, and where should we draft him?
Without jumping too far ahead to the ending, I would not draft Nunez at his current ADP of 119. That makes him the seventh highest shortstop being selected and the 14th ranked third baseman. There is an obvious reason why Nunez is being selected at his current price, 40 stolen bases last season, and that part of his game will continue to be an asset in 2017, but it’s not enough to justify an eighth round selection.
Nunez batted .288 last season as he benefited from a consistently elite contact rate of 84% last season. It was a career high mark from the former utility infielder, he saw the majority of his time at third base last season with San Francisco and that will likely continue in 2017. However, as compared to his expected batting average of .264, we should see a slight regression this season. From a batting average perspective, the one troubling note to me is Nunez’s paltry 17% line drive rate.
We saw Nunez hit 16 home runs last season, while driving in 67 runs, and that was partly attributable to a jump in his fly ball rate. Nunez saw his rate jump from 27% to 34%, and that came at the expense of his ground balls.
It also clear that Nunez’s home run total benefited from the increase in at bats as he still possesses below average power metrics; 80 on a scale with 100 being average and expected power rate of 85. Of Nunez’s 16 home runs, 12 of them came in his 91 games with the Twins while he hit just four in 50 games with the Giants.
Moving forward, we shouldn’t expect much more than a .270 batting average from Nunez with 10 to 12 home runs and 65 RBI, but it’s the stolen bases that will truly move the needle. The issue though, is that in my opinion, it currently being moved too far.
While you never want to bank on a total repeat, which in the case of Nunez would be 40 stolen bases, there is no reason not to do so. It is an issue that he doesn’t walk, about 5% of the time, but his contact skills are enough that getting on base will not be an issue. Nunez also possesses elite speed, 159 (or 59% above average) and had an 80% success rate last season.
Targeting Nunez as your starting shortstop is perfectly reasonable, but compared to Addison Russell, Aledmys Diaz, Elvis Andrus, and Troy Tulowitzki (all shortstops currently being taken after Nunez), targeting him as your middle infielder makes more sense.
Source – Baseball HQ
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Make sure to check out our other Early 2017 Rankings:
|Starting Pitcher||#1-20 |02/27/17|