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Dom Nuñez is having a weird season

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Colorado Rockies news and links for Wednesday, May 12, 2021

There are many different ways to be a major league baseball player. On Monday’s Rockpile, Daren Gonzalez talked about the contact savant Raimel Tapia has turned into and how that’s helped him become a legitimate big leaguer. So now I’m here to talk to you about the anti-Tapia. What’s the most different animal to a crab you can think of? Anyway, let’s talk about Dom Nuñez.

The introduction of Dom, of course, was all for show, because pretty much every Rockies fan who’s somewhat invested in the team is aware of who Dom Nuñez is. He’s been with the organization for a very long time and consistently featured on their prospect lists. After a brief cup of coffee in 2019 Nuñez spent all of 2020 on the taxi squad, but he finally got his chance this season as the lefty counterpart to Elias Díaz behind the dish. Despite clearly being considered as the backup to start the season, the 26-year-old essentially took over as the starter barely a week into the season and Bud Black hasn’t really had a reason to go back to Díaz, who’s slumped miserably to the tune of a .120/.200/.160 line across 55 plate appearances.

So that must mean Nuñez is doing a fine job, right? Well... that depends on what you look at.

(Keep in mind, this was written before the Rockies’ latest game against the Padres on May 11th. Núñez went 1-for-2 with a double, which further helps my overall point here.)

The Good

  • Nuñez is slugging .522, which is the highest mark among the team’s regulars and sixth best among MLB catchers with at least 70 PAs. That includes five homers, three doubles, and two triples (!).
  • He’s driven in 18 runs in just 22 games. For those keeping score, that comes out to right around 132 RBI per 162 games, which is a figure prime Manny Ramírez wouldn’t find too bad.
  • Dom is currently sporting the lowest Chase % of all Rockies regulars, a healthy 24.3% that’s solidly above average.

The Bad

  • Nuñez is currently striking out in 39.5% of his PAs, which is crazy high even for 2021 standards. How high? Well, among hitters with at least 70 plate appearances, he ranks fifth worst... out of 268 batters! That’s 2nd percentile stuff, literally.
  • Want some more percentile facts? Nuñez is currently whiffing at an astounding 41.5% of the pitches he swings at. That’s... you guessed it, second percentile across the majors. This is punctuated by an astonishing 32.6% Whiff % on pitches in the strikezone.

So there’s that. Nuñez is hitting for a pretty absurd amount of extra bases and is driving in runs when they count, but he’s also having ungodly issues with making contact and is rocking a dismal .153 wOBA against breaking pitches. Oh, and he has a predictable .494 OPS against lefties. I’d say he’s been what I expected, except he’s not walking as much as I thought he would, at least yet.

All this combines to create a cartoonish .203/.276/.522 slash line that Dave Kingman himself would be proud of. But in the friendly confines of Coors Field, that amounts to a 94 wRC+. Slightly below average... but not terrible, in particular for a catcher, where the average wRC+ has usually hovered around the 85-90 mark in the past five or six years.

So, what’s the point of this analysis? I’m not sure there is one, to be quite honest with you. It’s just funny (and kind of charming) to me how different hitters can be. I’ve talked up Nuñez on this site in the past, as the people in the comment section will sure know, and he’s having quite the peculiar season. Here’s to more extra-base hit madness from Dom!

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Márquez’s strong outing a ‘great sign’ for Rox | MLB.com

It was a relief to see Germán look more like himself after exiting the mound with such a defeated expression in his previous start against the Giants. While the efficiency and command still aren’t all the way there, it’s a much needed improvement. It’s never fun to watch your ace get shelled and look like he has no answers.

The evolution of Charlie Blackmon in the clubhouse | Rox Pile

Chuck has been a Rockie for a very, very long time now. And while his natural character might be reserved, he’s now deeply involved in giving the clubhouse an upbeat vibe. There’s some good quotes here from younger players about Blackmon’s personality and the way he interacts with people.

1st Prospect Team of the Week of ‘21 | MLB.com

Rockies’ No. 3 prospect, 1B Michael Toglia (No. 4 PuRP), finds himself on the first Prospect Team of the Week for the 2021 MiLB season. The UCLA product hit four homers, put up a .462 OBP and even swiped two bags.

On the Farm

All four Rockies affiliates saw action on Thursday. The Isotopes finished off their series against the Sugar Land Skeeters (Triple-A Astros affiliate) and the Yard Goats kicked off their first home series of the season against the Portland Sea Dogs (Double-A Red Sox affiliate). Over at High-A, the Spokane Indians went on the road for the first time in 2021 to take on the Vancouver Canadians (High-A Blue Jays affiliate), and the Low-A Fresno Grizzlies faced off against the Visalia Rawhide (Low-A Diamondbacks affiliate) to begin a 6-game set at home.

The end result was Rockies affiliates going 3-1 on the night, with the Isotopes taking the only loss and the Fresno Grizzlies dismantling the Visalia Rawhide 9-2. Fresno is now the only team of the four with a winning record so far, as the climb up to 4-3 on the season.

Some of the standout performances from around the farm include Isotopes CF Wynton Bernard (3-for-5 with a SB and a pair of runs scored), Yard Goats DH Sean Bouchard (2-for-4 with a double and a dinger), Indians SP and Rockies No. 7 PuRP Chris McMahon (5 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 6 K), and Grizzlies C and Rockies No. 8 PuRP Drew Romo (3-for-3 with a double, a walk, and three runs scored). The full box scores are down below!

Triple-A: Albuquerque Isotopes 4, Sugar Land Skeeters 6

Double-A: Portland Sea Dogs 4, Hartford Yard Goats 8

High-A: Vancouver Canadians 3, Spokane Indians 4

Low-A: Visalia Rawhide 2, Fresno Grizzlies 9

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