Eduardo Nuñez is going to be the Giants’ starting third baseman this year, and-
Giants fan: What about Conor Gillaspie?
Me: There’s not any indication that-
Giants fan: He was pretty good in the playoffs, you know.
Me: I remember, but-
Giants fan: Think it’s gonna be Gillaspie.
I understand that it’s fun to speculate about more exciting players, but Eduardo Nuñez really is a solid-
Giants fan: What about Jae-gyun Hwang?
Me: Nobody even know how he’ll perform at a major league-
Giants fan: Has lots of power.
Me: I know, but-
Giants fan: Sure do love power.
Can I finish a damn sentence? Jeez. I know that Nuñez seems like the familiar, safe option, but he’s a good player. He was an All-Star with the Twins last year, which was partially a default everybody’s-got-to-have-one, but it was also a reward for having a nice year. He got traded to the Giants and then, after some early struggles, especially defensively, he picked up his game and turned out to be a fun, exciting-
Giants fan: What about Christian Arroyo?
Me: Oh, I thought we were done with this bit.
Giants fan: He’s a minor leaguer I’ve heard of and therefore he’s good.
Me: It’s not like that’s wrong, at least when it comes to Arroyo, but-
Giants fan: Good enough to start in the majors.
Me: Okay, that’s wrong.
So what’s with this tendency to aggressively ignore Eduardo Nuñez? Let’s figure it out.
Conor Gillaspie had a great postseason
Strawman Giants Fan was sure right about this, at least. Gillaspie’s huge homer against Jeurys Familia and his triple against Aroldis Chapman made him part of Giants legend, and so it’s natural that we would assume that’s going to factor into how he’s used this year. But the Giants don’t really operate like that. Sure, Cody Ross got to be a starter in 2011, but he was one of the better outfield options on that team. Marco Scutaro got a big contract to play second base after 2012, but there wasn’t anyone else to do it. But 2013 Barry Zito eventually lost his job after a long enough string of poor performances, and 2015 Travis Ishikawa never really had a job.
Maybe Gillaspie’s postseason heroics will give him a longer leash if he has a bad stretch in the season, but there’s not really any evidence to think that he’s going to take Nuñez’s starting job.
There are sexier options
We’ve seen Eduardo Nuñez and what he’s looked like has been a pretty good player. But what if there are other guys who are better than that? We’ve never seen Hwang not be better than that. Arroyo’s never failed at any level above AA, and also he’s on prospect lists! When have prospect lists ever failed us?
(Gary Brown, Marcus Sanders, and Jesse Foppert, engaged in a very serious game of Go Fish, refuse to look up)
It’s so easy to dream on guys you’ve never seen when all you’ve heard is that they’re good. It’s so easy to mentally pencil them into the lineup, imagine them having Matt Duffy-like rookie seasons, instead of assuming that their transitions to the majors will be a bit rough and they’ll have to learn things and maybe their defense isn’t good enough yet and maybe Hwang’s swing needs work and maybe Arroyo still needs to fill out a bit so that he can turn some of those doubles into homers and turn some of those balls he just misses into hits.
And hey, since I just brought up Matt Duffy...
He’s not Matt Duffy
Giants fans miss Matt Duffy. He was great on defense, he had that spectacular 2015 season, and he has a very large cat. These are all important factors to consider. And now, rightly or wrongly, it’s being held against Nuñez that he’s not Duffy. If you’re not an out of nowhere farm product who finished second in the Rookie of the Year voting and scored from second on a wild pitch in the NLCS, then you’re just going to suffer by comparison.
There are 700 infielders in camp
When you’re constantly getting distracted by issues like Will Gordon Beckham Make the Team and Will Kelby Tomlinson Make the Team and Will Jimmy Rollins Make the-
Giants fan: What about Aaron Hill?
It’s just so easy to get consumed with thoughts about Aaron Hill making the roster and Bochy’s veteranphilia taking over and Aaron Hill becoming the starter and staying the starter even though he isn’t good and then maybe Gillaspie starts getting some starts against righties and then maybe it’s not working so Hwang or Arroyo gets called up and then the Giants trade very little to get Duffy back, who’s been struggling in Tampa and then he becomes a great player again and then they win the World Series. Those thoughts, those bad assumptions about what the Giants would do and what would be fun and what would work, make it so easy to ignore Eduardo Nuñez. Please don’t ignore Eduardo Nuñez. He’s a good baseball player and he’s the starting third baseman for the Giants until further notice.