This season, the New York Yankees have been put in a short-term situation that will ultimately be a reality: that is, replacing Derek Jeter at shortstop. Over the past 17 years, the Yankees have not had to really worry about who will play shortstop for the team on a daily basis.
However, Jeter is currently speeding towards his 39th birthday and when you combine that with the trouble he is having with his bum ankle that is likely going to sideline him for the first half of this season, the Yankee captain’s future is as uncertain right now as it has ever been.
This is forcing the Yankees to think about the future of the position following Jeter’s inevitable retirement, which looks like it will be closer then most fans would like to believe. The team has decided to give the position to 25 year-old Santo Domingo-native Eduardo Nunez in Jeter’s absence this season.
So, who is this guy that’s playing Derek Jeter’s position? Well, Nunez has been in the majors for the Yankees on and off since the start of the 2011 season. Up until this season, Nunez has always had a reputation as a player who can hit at the major league level but cannot field in a manner that would warrant him playing shortstop for a MLB team.
The funny thing is, after spending the majority of his training time this off-season improving his defense, Nunez is, according to multiple credible scouts and analysts, fielding exceptionally well. So now, the idea of him being an everyday shortstop doesn’t seem nearly as far-fetched.
He has struggled a bit out of the gate this year with his bat, but he also has suffered multiple hit by pitch related injuries this season and hasn’t been given the necessary time to get into a groove. He does have a good amount of pop for a shortstop and it is a stretch to say that he could one day be able to put up 15-20 home runs in a single season. Also, he has been able to muster a batting average somewhere around the .280 range while playing for the Yankees. So his hitting is not really a concern.
In addition to his abilities on the field, Nunez seems to be a good person and not a character problem of any sort. Not only that but Nunez pours his heart and soul into baseball, which is probably why he loses his helmet running the bases 2 or 3 times a game. These are obviously things that you take into consideration when you’re picking an heir to one of the most loved and respected Yankees of all time.
Basically, Nunez has all of the necessary tools to replace Jeter if he retires or transitions to another position. Obviously, Nunez will never be able to fill the entire void left by Derek Jeter. But honestly, their isn’t a player on Earth who could that. In conclusion, Eduardo Nunez can and more than likely will be the next primary shortstop for the New York Yankees.
Chris Ronca is a New York Yankees writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter; @ChrisRonca.