Playoff Roster Discussion: Ramiro Pena or Eduardo Nunez?

When looking at the Yankees playoff roster, there are about 21 spots that are locked down already and just a few that are up for grabs. One spot that could make for a good debate is the utility infielder spot and it comes down to Ramiro Pena or Eduardo Nunez.

Pena probably has the upper hand in this battle. He’s been with the team since early last season while Nunez has only played in 29 big league games. Nunez probably has the advantage with the bat though.

Pena put up a lowly 79 OPS+ over 115 at bats last season and topped that with a 38 OPS+ in 147 at bats this year. Pena has quite the split though and isn’t that bad against righties, putting up a 128 OPS+ against them. Against lefties he has a -5 OPS+. That’s right, a negative OPS+ against lefties.

Nunez has only gotten 47 at bats in the major leagues, but does have a respectible 88 OPS+. Those numbers stand up though because of his success in the minors. This season he only hit .289 with a .721 OPS, but in 2009 he was impressive with a .322 batting average and a .782 OPS.

If one had to hit in a big spot there wouldn’t be much of a question which you would want there, Nunez. But if it were a righty, it wouldn’t necessarily make a difference.

The thing is though, if manager Joe Girardi does his job properly neither will really come up in a big spot where they have to hit. They will however be relied upon as a late inning defensive specialist or pinch runner.

When it comes to speed off the bench that’s probably a push. Neither are burners, but both have decent speed. FanGraphs says that Nunez is the faster one, but only slightly. I don’t put a lot of stock into that though because of his small sample size in the major leagues.

When it comes to defense, that’s where the difference comes in and Pena has the upper hand. He’s got a 4.0 UZR as a third baseman, a 0.9 UZR as a shortstop and a 0.1 UZR as a second baseman. On the other hand, Nunez has a -0.3 UZR as a shortstop and a -2.3 as a third baseman (he only played one inning as a second baseman and didn’t have a ball hit to him).

As far as speed and the bat, Nunez probably has the advantage here, but the glove might be the most important thing and he has the edge there.

So who will it be? What is your choice as the utility infielder the Yankees should go with?

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3 Responses to Playoff Roster Discussion: Ramiro Pena or Eduardo Nunez?

  1. Delia says:

    That's a tough decision. There's Pena good at the outfield, but Nunez is better when it comes to offense. And they are both fast runners. I would say Nunez, even though Pena is a good outfielder.

  2. Mike S. says:

    I wondered about this myself. Speed wise about even. Defense, Pena. Offense, Nunez. But I think Pena gives you better experience at 2b and OF than Nunez. Granted Ramiro most likely won't be used in the OF but in case of emergency, he has experience there while Nunez, I think, doesn't

    Here is the thing which I think tips it to Pena. You hope it would never come to this, but…and it could be a big but….when there is no Moeller, and the only catchers on the postseason roster are Posada and Cervelli, guess who is the third-string emergency catcher? The same guy it's been all season long. Pena.

  3. smurfy says:

    I agree with Mike S. on the choice of Pena. I would only add that the quality of his defense at short and third decides it, and the emergency features of backup catcher, second, and outfielder only reinforce. There is no stepdown in defense, and plenty of benchstrength devoted to offense.