Abraham Nunez has entered a new, ironic phase where his futility should be celebrated.
Nunez’s 2006 season is a modern baseball marvel. Usually when a player hits this poorly, he would be long gone, either sent to the minors or released. Yet somehow, the war of attrition known as the Phillies '06 season has not taken him as a casualty. His only defense is that he’s the ranking utility man, a title he’s wearing like a polymeric bulletproof vest.
Personally, I’m pulling for Nunez (pictured right in a great moment in Phillies history) to keep his average below .150. That way, he can go down as having the worst, longest-sustained, single Phillies season of my lifetime. I say this in full acceptance that the Phils are out of the race, and have resorted to grasping at straws, like this story, to keep readers interested.
Yesterday, Nunez tripled, which was completely unacceptable. It was his first hit in just under a month. It brought his average up .009 points to .142. and OPS up .034 points to .390.
Readers at PhilliesPhans.com have started to pick up on Nunez’s historically futile season, undertaking in research projects to insert Nunez somewhere in his rightful place among the bowels of Phillies history.
Poster Joe Cowley has taken the lead, and believes Lee Tinsley might be the closest player to match Nunez’s sustained level of futility over the past 20 years:
--- Lee Tinsley (1996) had a .135 AVG and an OPS of .331, but that was for only 52 AB. (Nunez has 106 ABs).
--- Bill Almon only got 26 ABs in 1988 to show off his .115 AVG. But 2 doubles and 3 walks helped skyrocket his OPS to .399.
I keep looking for a worse performance, but it's hard:
--- Sil Campusano (1990) .212/.587
--- Dale Sveum (1992) .178/.513
--- Braulio Castillo (1992) .197/.580
--- Mark Parent (1997) .150/.375
--- Felipe Crespo (2001) .171/.527
--- Eric Valent (2001) .098/.342
--- Shawn Wooten (2004) .170/.454
More from the 1996 Phillies
I forwarded this information on Tinsley to Senior Beerleaguer Correspondent Martin Smith, who shot back this e-mail on the 1996 Phillies.
"I forgot about Tinsley, so I looked up that awful team. J.R. Phillips, Jon Zuber, Glenn Murray, Mike Mimbs, Dave Leiper ... but there is another great story from that year. The Phils needed a starting pitcher for one game, much like this year with Adam Benero. They brought up Rafael Quirico, a 26-year-old that they found somewhere in the Dominican. I don't believe he had much experience in organized ball before this, but he was at SWB and had done OK.
"He was awful, or had an incredible case of stage fright. He gave up 7 runs in 1 2-3 with 5 walks, but what they found out is he did not know how to throw to first base to hold a runner. After the game, Phils management was really pissed, wondering why this guy was brought up, and didn't they teach him how to throw to first while at SWB. And like Benero, he was out of here. He was released and never pitched for the Phillies again."