The Red Sox have used nine players at third base so far this season: Deven Marrero, Pablo Sandoval, Josh Rutledge, Brock Holt, Marco Hernández, Tzu-Wei Lin, Rafael Devers, Steve Selsky, and Christian Vázquez. If that list seems underwhelming, it should: You’ve probably never heard of most of those guys; one is deployed primarily as a catcher; one is a 20-year-old who looks like he’s 12; one was shut down for a stretch after experiencing vertigo; and one was paid $95 million to hit .237 over 575 at-bats before being cut and later becoming a member of the esteemed Pacific Coast League Sacramento River Cats.
So, with the July 31 trade deadline approaching, Boston sprung to action Tuesday night, dealing two minor league pitchers to the Giants in exchange for utility infielder Eduardo Núñez. It’s a move that makes sense for both sides: Núñez is a solid hitter and base runner, slashing .308/.334/.417 with 18 stolen bases this season. He represents an upgrade over everyone else who has manned the corner of despair for the Red Sox in 2017. For San Francisco, the next week should usher in a massive rebuild, mostly because it’s an Odd Year and that means instead of even pretending to try, the Giants have flat-out stopped believing. As of Wednesday morning, they sit 19 games in back of third place in the National League West.
But I’ve buried the lede: The only important thing to know about this trade is that in Núñez, the Red Sox have just landed the best player in the world at sprinting out of his helmet.
If you are unfamiliar with Núñez, you might wonder how this could happen to him so frequently. Most MLB players wear helmets that fit their heads. Some wear helmets so advanced that they apparently bend the laws of space and time to gravitate back to their heads after being kicked. Helmet technology is amazing, as is the idea of baseball players wearing lids that are slightly bigger than the circumference of their respective skulls.
Núñez, however, prefers to wear a helmet that is approximately 193 sizes too large, presumably because sprinting out of his helmet as he rounds the bases makes him look like the goddamn Flash. (In 2013, Núñez told a Wall Street Journal reporter that his helmet “feels tight,” but I will not be fooled by such a blatant attempt at deception.) He is to running out of his helmet what Daniel Bernoulli was to aerodynamics. BEHOLD:
If you’d prefer to pivot away from video with your internet content, here is a photo sequence from May 2016 that depicts the majesty of a master at work.
Congratulations, Boston, on acquiring a transcendent talent (who otherwise profiles as a slightly superior Brock Holt) for the small price of Shaun Anderson and Gregory Santos.