Lagares & Nimmo Must Play Everyday
After learning Michael Conforto is going to need shoulder surgery, there is no longer any doubt he is going to miss the remainder of the season. Unfortunately, Conforto is not going to hit that 30 home run threshold he was ever so close to hitting. He might’ve got there if he entered the season as the starter. As we all remember, he had to wait for his injuries to create an opportunity for him. Now with him being injured, there is going to be an opportunity created for two other players – Juan Lagares and Brandon Nimmo.
Lagares was once considered the Mets center fielder of the present and the future. After winning the 2014 Gold Glove, he entered the 2015 season as the Opening Day starter and the proud owner of a five year $19 million contract extension. Lagares would regress on the field and at the plate leading to the Mets obtaining Yoenis Cespedes at the trade deadline.
Since the 2015 season, Lagares’ glove has returned, but he can’t stay on the field. Two years in a row, Lagares has suffered thumb injuries knocking him out for a long duration. But when he is on the field, he has been great. Currently, he is ranked third in the majors with a 12 DRS in center despite playing less than half the innings of anyone else in the top 10. It should come as no surprise he ranks first in the majors with a 30.4 UZR/150.
The question with Lagares is and continues to be his bat. In his 60 games played, he is just hitting .246/.294/.357. He’s also not hitting well against LHP like he typically does. Still, there is a little over left in the season where Lagares can work on his offensive game where he could at least hit enough to justify putting his glove in the lineup everyday. Or at a minimum, find out if he can indeed be part of a platoon.
The perfect choice for a platoon partner for him would be Nimmo.
The Mets 2011 first round draft pick is developing into a prototypical lead-off hitter. In 34 games this season, he has a .391 OBP, and in his brief major league career, he has a .361 OBP. In his nine games hitting in the lead-off spot, Nimmo is hitting .241/.353/.414 with two doubles, a homer, and four RBI. This is a short sample size for sure, but it should be noted he was a good lead-off hitter with the Las Vegas 51s. Over parts of the past three seasons in Triple-A, Nimmo has a .403 OBP, which his having the best OBP in the Pacific Coast League last year.
The question for Nimmo is whether his bat will truly translate to the majors. Yes, his patience and his knowledge of the strike zone has and will translate well. However, the question is whether he would hit enough to justify him playing everyday. This is his chance.
Between Lagares and Nimmo, they needed an opportunity to play everyday to show the Mets they could be considered the team’s center fielder next year. They have it now, and now the Mets can make a better educated decision this offseason as to whether Nimmo and Lagares could be part of the solution or whether the team needs to go out there and obtain a Lorenzo Cain.
Of course, the key to all of this is Terry Collins putting both Lagares and Nimmo in the lineup everyday. There are no excuses now with the team no longer having any more major league quality outfielders on the 40 man roster.