Nunez Replaces Rodriguez in Yankee Lineup

By Tommy Rancel //

For the second time this season the New York Yankees are depending on 24-year-old Eduardo Nunez to fill some legendary shoes in their lineup. Nunez has appeared in 51 games this season – mostly as a fill in for Derek Jeter at shortstop where he has 24 starts. In 133 plate appearances this year young middle infielder is hitting .279/.318/.434.

When Jeter returned last week Nunez was sent back to the bench. That moved turned out to be a temporary one when Alex Rodriguez was injured. Rodriguez underwent successful surgery on his knee, but will be out for a reported six weeks. After filling in admirably for Jeter, Nunez will be asked to slide to the hot corner and do the same in Rodriguez’s absence.

While Nunez was able to replicate or even outperform Jeter at the plate, he will not do the same with Rodriguez. Although he is on the downside of his career, the 35-year-old third baseman was hitting .295/.366/.485 with 32 extra-base hits in 80 games prior to injury. Nunez presents a downgrade across the board; however, he is still worthy of a pickup in AL-Only formats and deeper mixed leagues as well.

Although he won’t produce like Alex Rodriguez, Nunez will still hit in the same talented lineup and in the same offensive environment. Nunez should produce a slash line similar to his career line (.279/.319/.413). That is pretty much a league average hitter with little value. On the other hand, even if he gets on base at the league average pace, he should score runs in bunches when you consider the rest of the weapons in the Yankee lineup even without Rodriguez. Depending on his place in the order, Nunez should also see frequent RBI opportunities and could rack up a few extra-base hits in the Bronx. He is far from a speed demon, but does have more steals (10) than strikeouts (9) on the year.

Even when A-Rod returns, Nunez may be worth stashing on your fantasy bench. With a pair of 30-somethings who have already missed time in Rodriguez and Jeter, Nunez is New York’s plan B at several infield spots. Because of his time filling in for Jeter, he also has eligiblity at shortstop as well as 3B. There is no reason to overpay or drop someone to make room for Nunez; however, if he is available on your waiver wire snatch up the free talent as soon as possible.

For more on Nunez and other Rodriguez replacements, check out Bloomberg Sports Front Office.

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