While no one expects the Baltimore Orioles to do much in the 2020 baseball season – if it ever gets started, there are a few players who could provide some much needed entertainment for fans.
And, that’s saying something.
In an article about the best pure power hitters in the AL East, Bill Ladson of MLB.com included Nunez with the likes of household names like J.D. Martinez, Giancarlo Stanton, and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. Stanton and Martinez have proven their prowess season after season, and Guerrero was hitting bombs as a child.
But, Nunez came as a surprise. He’s not the first name that pops up when considering home run power in Baltimore. But, after looking at the popular stats of the day -exit velocity and distance – no one was better in 2019.
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Nunez joined the O’s in 2018, after he was DFA’d by the Texas Rangers to make room for Roughned Odor. The O’s snapped him up off of waivers to replace Tim Beckham who went on the DL for core muscle surgery. The Orioles front office saw something in Nunez, as they made the necessary moves back and forth from Triple-A to keep him on the 40-man roster.
During spring training, the O’s were giving him reps at third base, as a platoon partner with Rio Ruiz. But, Nunez might just be better suited to be the DH if the 2020 season gets moving. He played a little bit of 1st and 3rd in 2019, and his defensive performance wasn’t much to write home about with his abilities resulting in negative dWAR. Besides, the O’s still have Chris Davis at first for the time being.
There is no doubt the 26-year-old can hit; and with this sweet swing in his 30th home, he run makes it look easy:
What the O’s do need is a reliable DH. Nunez might be the right one for the job. He hit 31 home runs in 2019 and 25 of them traveled 400 feet of more. On top of that, one went 450 feet. His average home-run exit velocity was 107.3 MPH. For comparison, the fastest exit velo in 2019 was a 120.6 MPH single hit by Stanton. Nomar Mazara hit the farthest home run in 2019; it traveled 505 feet.
When looking back at Stat Cast numbers in 2019, not one Orioles player made the leader board for home-run distance, fastest exit velocity, or average exit velocity. It’s been a few years since Davis made the board, and the other men who could do it are with other teams. If the 2020 season gets started, Nunez should put his bat to the test at DH.