It’s not about a team with a .329 winning percentage deserving to be represented in the All-Star Game. It’s about someone putting up numbers good enough to be part of the Midsummer Classic.
And the Twins have seen what Eduardo Nunez has done to earn playing time, then earn a promotion to the leadoff spot in the order. They see his professional at-bats, his speed, and his helmet flying off his head when he turns for home.
In essence, they see an All-Star.
So did Nunez’s peers, as he was named to his first All-Star roster. Nunez was selected by AL manager Ned Yost, who was allowed to choose seven players for the team.
“I’m excited,” Nunez said. “I’m just excited, I will enjoy it. I try to represent the Twins fans, especially when they show up to support us, all my teammates, all the organization, and I think I will enjoy that.”
Nunez began the season as a utility player but hit his way into the everyday lineup and has not slowed down. He entered Tuesday batting .315 with 11 home runs, 34 RBI and a team-high 19 stolen bases. He leads the club with 27 multi-hit games, is third in home runs and second in RBI.
“I know probably a lot will be made about the fact that every team has to be represented, and that will be a little unfortunate in this case,” manager Paul Molitor said. “because regardless of where we’re at as a club. I think you can justify his first half being All-Star caliber. Month-to-month, there hasn’t been much change.”
Some have grumbled about the one-player-per team rule, arguing that it keeps some deserving players out of the game. Twins General Manager Terry Ryan believes the industry benefits from having all of its markets represented.
“Even when we have been doing good and we see other teams struggle, I still think it is the right thing for that club [to be represented],” Ryan said.
Nunez was informed of the appointment after an abbreviated batting practice that was altered by heavy rains moving through the area.
“I never thought at the beginning about the All-Star Game,” Nunez said. “But now I am, and thanks for everything. For the opportunity they gave me, the organization, and all the support on Twitter and internet.”
Nunez began the season on the bench but made his first start on April 10, going 4-for-4. He started two games later and went 3-for-3 as the Twins won their first game of the season. Within a week, he was a fixture in the lineup. On May 23, he was moved into the leadoff spot and has remained there ever since.
“You kind of get to see what he’s made of,” Twins second baseman Brian Dozier said. “Being at the top of the lineup you can do a lot of different things, and he has been kind of that igniter for us pretty much the whole season.
“He’s played really well. He’s stealing bases. He’s healthy. He’s been the spark plug for us offensively.
And he’s done it while playing 36 games at shortstop, 26 at third base and four at second base. He’s become a utility hitter, providing offense wherever his plays.
And, for that, he will be in San Diego on Tuesday as one of the league’s best.
“Some of his peers are going to be in this game that he is close to,” Ryan said. “I think he’s close to [Robinson] Cano [of the Mariners]. There’s an opportunity where he’s going to be rubbing some elbows with some big names out there, and he’s right there with them.’’