Photo Courtesy: USA Today

Nunez stepping up for Orioles

June 06, 2019 - 11:08 am

By Austin Medina 

Even with their losing woes (9-22 since May 1st), there have been a few bright spots for the Orioles.

The Orioles fully embraced their rebuild after trading third baseman Manny Machado last July. This season, a bright spot has been seen by third baseman/designated hitter Renato Nunez.

The Orioles claimed Nunez off waivers last May when the Rangers let him go.

Nunez, 25, has provided a power surge primarily as a designated hitter for the O’s. Currently, Nunez is batting .248 with 15 homeruns and 35 RBI. To put Nunez’ season into perspective, Machado has just a .250 batting average along with 10 homeruns and 31 RBI. Perhaps not paying Machado a long-term deal was best after all for Baltimore?

His batting average may be concerning, but Nunez has career highs with 15 homeruns and a .500 slugging percentage. Simply put, Nunez has made major strides and progressed into a power threat. The power possessed by Nunez was on full display in May. Since May 15th, Nunez is tied for the major league lead with nine homeruns.

With Mark Trumbo’s return on the horizon, the question that will follow is if Nunez can stay in the lineup. His recent hitting wonders would suggest he remains in the starting lineup.  Orioles manager Brandon Hyde spoke about Nunez’ recent play and what to expect with Trumbo’s return.

“The way he’s swinging the bat, you’d like to have him in there. I think we’re waiting to see how Mark is, and I think we’re going to make those decisions when that gets a little bit closer.”

With Nunez on pace for 40 homeruns, Hyde will have plenty of tough questions to answer. The Orioles have brightspots in Nunez and first baseman Trey Mancini. Additionally the O's have both Chris Davis and Trumbo on large contracts and returning soon. Having an abundance of power is a great “problem” to have and when Trumbo returns, his play time should depend on whether Nunez’ hitting remains hot.