Boston Red Sox: The valuable impact of a sizzling Eduardo Nunez

CLEVELAND, OH - AUGUST 23: Eduardo Nunez
CLEVELAND, OH - AUGUST 23: Eduardo Nunez /

The Boston Red Sox continue to hold down first place in the American League East, thanks in large part to a player who wasn’t even with the team a month ago.

A handful of position players–including Andrew Benintendi and Rafael Devers–have delivered key hits for the Boston Red Sox in August.

Eduardo Nunez might very well be at the top of this list.

Acquired in late July from the San Francisco Giants, the Red Sox were desperately seeking a third baseman. At that point, they might have settled for anyone who could hit .250 and maybe supply a home run now and again.

They’ve received so much more.

First and foremost, Nunez has brought stability to the top of the lineup. Setting the table at the lead-off spot, the Red Sox averaged nearly six runs per game since his arrival. In the process, the Red Sox have jumped to third in runs scored in the American League.

BOSTON, MA – AUGUST 18: Christian Vazquez
BOSTON, MA – AUGUST 18: Christian Vazquez /

He has even pitched in with the team’s home run total, launching six in the 23 games he’s played in a Boston uniform.

Nunez has 20 RBI’s, notching five in Tuesday’s victory over the Cleveland Indians. He’s had four other multiple RBI games since moving back to the American League.

Consistency had been a problem for most of the Boston position players in 2017. The carousel at third base had been a problem, as had inconsistency (Xander Bogaerts) and just down right slumping (Hanley Ramirez).

It was initially believed Nunez would be the answer at third base. Then Devers showed off his major league muscle and Dustin Pedroia got hurt, giving a chance for Nunez to display his versatility.

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Roaming the infield

The infield has belonged to Nunez since his arrival. He has appeared mostly at second base, but has also put in time at third and shortstop.

Initially it looked like Nunez might act has a player who roved around, giving days off to players when needed. Then the Pedroia injured happened.

In Pedroia’s place, Nunez has settled in primarily at second base. Overall with the Boston Red Sox, Nunez has committed three errors while hitting .340.

Nunez has had such an impact that second base should continue to be his even if Pedroia makes it back in 2017. Pedroia was having a standard solid season before the injury but at this point he might be better served as a part-time player.

Manager John Farrell will have a lot of options if Pedroia comes back. Devers is worthy of playing time. And so is Nunez. Keeping him in the lineup keeps Mookie Betts out of the leadoff spot.

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Betts was not bad in the one hole. Right now, though, the Red Sox have been producing more runs with Nunez in that position. Let him stay on the field and continue to be a leader of this team.

What better way to bury your rivals than with a man who used to play for them? For Nunez, that may turn out to be the ultimate joy.