Nunez hopes to show last year wasn't a fluke; Former Orioles shut out of Hall; Bud Norris tries for comeback - BaltimoreBaseball.com

Rich Dubroff

Nunez hopes to show last year wasn’t a fluke; Former Orioles shut out of Hall; Bud Norris tries for comeback

Photo Credit: Joy R. Absalon

 

No fewer than 50 players hit 31 or more home runs in 2019. Renato Nunez was one of them.

Nunez is one of the more understated members of the Orioles, and many fans probably overlooked his power display. Nunez’s 31 homers and 90 RBIs trailed only Trey Mancini in those categories, but he isn’t mentioned among key Orioles.

Part of the lack of attention is because many viewed last season as an offensive aberration in Major League Baseball.

However, Nunez, who played in his first full major league season last year, had shown off power numbers in the minor leagues.

In 2017, Nunez hit 32 home runs in 126 games for Triple-A Nashville in the Oakland organization. That followed 23 homers for the ‘Sounds in 2016. In High-A Stockton in the California League, Nunez hit 29 home runs in 2014.

The question about Nunez’s value is a real one. He was the Orioles’ starting designated hitter in 109 games and got 21 starts at third and eight at first.

Baseballreference.com assigns Nunez a 1.1 WAR. Nunez’s Fangraph’s WAR is .6.

A major league scout says Nunez is “basically a DH that’s got power … a decent enough hitter with power.”

Nunez had 143 strikeouts and 44 walks in 151 games. His batting average was .244.

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For three weeks in May, Nunez cratered, going 3-for-47. In July, Nunez had by far his best month, hitting .304 with a .955 OPS. He had seven home runs and 19 RBIs.

The Orioles are loaded with players who can play first base the scout points out — Mancini, Nunez, Chris Davis and, when he’s moved up to the big leagues, Ryan Mountcastle.

If Nunez has another hot season, he might be a trade chip.

“I think he’s an American League player,” the scout said. He can play first, but at first, he’s a defensive liability.

Because home runs were so plentiful last year, and Nunez had never had so much playing time, it’s hard to get a true read on him.

“It was really difficult last year when you’re looking at players to project,” the scout said. “He still has upside. I think teams would have some interest in him.”

Nunez, 25, was one of Dan Duquette’s more overlooked acquisitions. He was claimed on waivers by the Orioles from Texas on May 13, 2018.

When Manny Machado was traded two months later, Nunez replaced him on the roster.

He hit .275 in 60 games, but made seven errors in 59 games at shortstop.

Former Orioles fall short of Hall: Curt Schilling, who earned the first of his 216 major league wins with the Orioles, came close to being elected to the Hall of Fame in the results announced Tuesday night.

Schilling received 70 percent of the vote, five percent short of the 75 percent required for election.

He continued to climb closer. In 2018, he received 51.2 percent, and 60.9 percent a year ago.

Schilling has two more years of eligibility in the Baseball Writers’ of America Association voting and will be the top returning candidate next year, when there will be no top-shelf debuts in the election.

Schilling, whose political comments have damaged his reputation, has been mum this time around, and it seems to have helped his cause.

Sammy Sosa, also in his eighth year of eligibility, received 13.9 percent of the vote, the highest he’s gotten.

Brian Roberts did not get any votes.

Over the previous two years, five former Orioles — Harold Baines, Vladimir Guerrero, Mike Mussina, Lee Smith and Jim Thome were elected.

In next year’s balloting, Schilling and Sosa could be joined on the ballot by former Orioles relievers Kevin Gregg and LaTroy Hawkins. Gregg and Hawkins must first pass through a screening committee.

This year, Nate McLouth and Joe Saunders failed to get enough support from the screening committee to make the BBWAA ballot.

A return for the Budman? Bud Norris, who had a career year for the Orioles in 2014 and has pitched for five other teams since then, has reportedly signed a minor league contract with the Philadelphia Phillies.

Norris was in spring training with the Toronto Blue Jays in 2019 but didn’t pitch competitively last season.

In 2014, Norris was 15-8 with a 3.65 ERA but was released by the Orioles in August 2015 after he fell to a 2-9 record and 7.06 ERA.

Since leaving the Orioles, Norris has pitched for San Diego, Atlanta, the Los Angeles Dodgers and Angels, and St. Louis.

Follow Rich Dubroff on Twitter @RichDubroffMLB

20 Comments

20 Comments

  1. Orial

    January 22, 2020 at 8:56 am

    I don’t know Rich there’s something about Nunez I’m not a fan of. Sure he has a little pop sure the O’s, in an era of ” cheap” HRs,are kinda desperate for that pop but he’s too one dimensional. With Mancini average at best defensively,Davis still on the roster,and Mountcastle on the way Nunez strikes me as nothing but a roadblock. Unless he finds a way to NOT be a clunker at 3B I find him to be expendable(but again they do need pop). Schilling borderline. One bloody sock does not make a HOFer.

    • Rich Dubroff

      January 22, 2020 at 9:12 am

      A postseason record of 11-2 with a 2.23 ERA and a 0.968 WHIP helps make a Hall of Famer. How about a 216-146 record, a 3.46 ERA in an offense-happy era? How about six All-Star selections? What about his 79.5 WAR? That’s better than John Smoltz, Jim Palmer, Don Drysdale and Don Sutton. Schilling is a Hall of Famer, for sure, Orial.

      • Boog Robinson Robinson

        January 22, 2020 at 10:09 am

        Dunno Rich … no offense intended as I do respect your opinions, but sometimes I think your standards for the HOF might be a bit low. I’m on the fence when it comes to Schilling. I think I’d put him in, but it’s certainly not “for sure”. I’m on the fence with this one.

        Off the top of my head, I think of Curt Schilling as one of the top 5 or 6 starting pitchers of his generation, and that alone would seem to get him in the HOF. His ERA is very nice considering the age in which he pitched … and he does have 3000+ ks to go along with some post-season heroics.

        BUT … he’s got a lot of warts that could keep him out, and I’m not talking about what comes out of his mouth. Although I give him credit for his 3 – 2nd place finishes … he never once won a Cy Young Award. When considering qualifications for the HOF … that’s a pretty big matzo ball when your’re comparing yourself to the Palmers, Carltons and Madduxs’ of the world. He’s nowhere close to 300 wins (although I’m starting to think we may never see another). Perhaps 200 should be the new 300? And not counting his 1st 3 years in Bal’more, he had 5 or 6 years where is innings pitched were extremely low. Was he injured those years? I truly don’t know, but he was not on the mound much those seasons.

        79.5 WAR? Higher than Jim Palmers WAR? Not speaking to the comparisons to Smoltz, Sutton and Drysdale but to use it against Palmer? Really? That statistical comparison alone shows that WAR can be an EXTREMELY FLAWED statistic to say the least.

    • Rich Dubroff

      January 22, 2020 at 10:51 am

      Schilling is 15th on the all-time strikeout list and struck out more than four times as many as he walked.

    • Rich Dubroff

      January 22, 2020 at 10:59 am

      As for the Cy Youngs, Ken, that doesn’t bother me. He finished second twice in the NL, to Randy Johnson, one of the great pitchers in history, and once in the AL to Johan Santana, an excellent pitcher for several years. Schilling won the large majority of his games from age 30 on, and it’s rare that a player performs better in his 30’s than 20’s. It’s also something that only happens with truly outstanding players.

      • Boog Robinson Robinson

        January 22, 2020 at 11:10 am

        Rich, you make a great arguments for him.

        Better in his 30s that 20s ‘eh? Very suspicious … no?

        As far as finishing 2nd 3 times, I did credit him with those..like I said…I’d more likely than not vote for the fellow…just being the devil’s advocate on this one.

        Would love to hear what some of your other readers think about this one?

        • Bancells Moustache

          January 22, 2020 at 12:04 pm

          I don’t want to wade into the muddy waters of the political stuff here, not the forum for it. But regardless of what Schilling has tweeted, he’s a Hall of Famer, and a second or third ballot one at that. That he is very obviously not being elected due to statements that have nothing to do with baseball is a disgrace, though I believe he missed this year because no one wanted the ceremony honoring His Holiness, St. Derek to have any whiff of controversy. But then I’m also in the camp that Clemens, Bonds etc. not being in Cooperstown completely invalidates it as a Hall of Fame. The steroid era happened. The players were cupable. So were the fans who lined up to hand over their money to watch. So were the sportswriters who cashed checks writing stories about players in Paul Bunyan terms. Anyone over 10 years old who watched the 98 Home Run race and didn’t know it was tainted right off the bat is a fool. Put them in the Hall, this endless two decade old steroid conversation will reach a fever pitch, and then will thankfully, finally end.

          • Boog Robinson Robinson

            January 22, 2020 at 4:50 pm

            BanMo … This is one area where you & I will disagree. There are plenty of players that didn’t cheat by taking steroids. Let’s not discount all those and their effectually minimized efforts by allowing those that cheated into the HOF. I’m not trying to be pious, but wrong is wrong. All the players knew juicing was wrong. But all players didn’t choose to juice. Never again will we be able to compare players across generations as we used to, even if it were done so with a false sense of equity. The Bonds & Clemens of the world were some of, if not THE greatest players of all time, but they are also cheats.

            Did I know or suspect the players were juicing? I had my suspicions, but somehow, as a fan, I don’t feel at all culpable.

            My feelings are that steroids should be kept out of baseball and where they belong … the NFL. Maybe Clemens and Bonds should have played ball with those guys.

            Besides … who cares if the debate never ends?

    • CalsPals

      January 22, 2020 at 2:49 pm

      Statistically Palmeiro should be in conversation as well…compare the stats, schilling I’m on the fence about, but his stats show yes, so I’d say yes…go O’s…

      • Rich Dubroff

        January 22, 2020 at 3:14 pm

        Ray, Palmeiro is no longer eligible for election by the BBWAA.

        • Orial

          January 22, 2020 at 5:05 pm

          Well Rich you’ve done it,you’ve swayed me on Schilling. Those are impressive stats. Who cares if he’s the Ted Nugent of MLB let him in.

          • Rich Dubroff

            January 22, 2020 at 8:16 pm

            Schilling will be heartened by your support, Orial.

      • Boog Robinson Robinson

        January 22, 2020 at 5:10 pm

        I know Raffy the Cheat had huge lifetime numbers. But give me 1 year… just ONE year … where he could say that he was the best first baseman in his league … let alone in all of baseball. Every year he played, if you were to pick an all star team from each league, Raffy would never have been chosen as starter.

        Is that HOF?

        • Rich Dubroff

          January 22, 2020 at 8:27 pm

          Ken, since Palmeiro was voted down by the BBWAA and has no chance of being elected by a Veterans’ committee, arguing about him is irrelevant.

          But, the argument about being the best at any position for a year isn’t a good one.

          Henry Aaron and Roberto Clemente were all-time greats who both played right field concurrently. Who cares who was better? They were both great.

          Richie Ashburn played center field in Philadelphia at the same time Willie Mays, Mickey Mantle and Duke Snider were playing center field in New York. Because of Willie, Mickey and the Duke, Ashburn wasn’t voted into the Hall of Fame by the writers.

          There can be multiple great players at the same time at a position.

          What if I told you that Elston Howard, Earl Battey, Tom Haller or John Roseboro were Hall of Famers because they were the best at their position during their time, which was the early and mid-1960’s? They happened to be the best catchers of their time, but the time wasn’t very good.

          Don Sutton is a Hall of Famer, and so is Phil Niekro, and I don’t think anyone thought they were the best pitchers of their time. They won 300-plus games, but there were other wonderful starting pitchers during their time–Tom Seaver, Bob Gibson, Ferguson Jenkins. They all deserved to be Hall of Famers.

          Of course, Rafael Palmeiro shouldn’t be a Hall of Famer. He deceived the game and was caught. If his statistics were achieved legitimately, he would deserve to be in the Hall of Fame. They are under question, and that’s why, not because he wasn’t considered the best first baseman. There were others at the same time who were also excellent.

          • Boog Robinson Robinson

            January 23, 2020 at 8:00 am

            Rich …. You miss my point … I’m not arguing that being the best for one year is a reason for being included in the Hall. What I’m really saying is that failure to be the best EVER at your position for a single year, certainly doesn’t scream ‘greatness’.

            I agree with you that there can be multiple great players at a single position concurrently, but when you play the game for 20 years and are never the best player at your position … well that’s a valid argument against inclusion. On top of that … Raffy never even scratched the MVP voting (best place was 5th).

            His numbers do scream HOF at face value, but when looking closer, Palmeiro is the poster-boy for an argument to be made against a simple accumulation of numbers due to longevity. And he’s also a reason for reconsidering what being in the 500 club means to the HOF… for whatever reasons, steroids, smaller ball parks, juiced balls. 500 isn’t what it used to be, and probably never will be.

            But your points are well taken Rich. You don’t have to be the best pitcher or position player of your era to earn your place in the HOF…agreed.

    • CalsPals

      January 23, 2020 at 8:03 am

      Couldn’t of said it better, makes perfect sense, thx…go O’s…

  2. NormOs

    January 22, 2020 at 1:06 pm

    In the near future, using the present criteria for consideration for the H O F, it would seem almost impossible for any starting pitcher today to meet those goals. 2+ ERA, 20 wins, 200 Ks, 300 innings, etc over 20 years. It seems it’s OK to pitch 5/6 innings with a 4.50 ERA which, it, IMHO, is far from H O F numbers. So. they’ll just change the rules to fit, making the process as watered down as possible. Let’s make room for Bud Norris. Now for the O’s, tell me again “When Does The Rebuild Start”?

  3. willmiranda

    January 22, 2020 at 8:18 pm

    As for Schilling, I think it’s pretty much an open book that the writers who didn’t vote for him acted for reasons quite unrelated to his pitching performance. I haven’t really followed chapter and verse of the controversies, but it seems to me that there’s a lack of professional objectivity in some members of the BBWAA. What’s more it reveals itself as petty punishment dealt out to someone who has the courage and ability to express himself on highly debatable matters, something I think journalists should be eager to encourage. These writers don’t seem to realize that they condemn Schilling for what they themselves take pride in.

    • Bancells Moustache

      January 22, 2020 at 9:45 pm

      Here here!

  4. Araminta Ross

    February 4, 2020 at 11:45 am

    Renato really got it. Also excited about Santander and Ruiz development. I don’t see Bert making the team. He was on the roster last year along with Villar because they didn’t have nobody else. Glad we got rid of The Most Likely To Get His Uniform Dirty when we did. Now that we got others who are more highly skilled than Bert, I hope they DFA him as soon as his attitude becomes a problem.

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