Mets Need Better Than Brandon Nimmo In CF
When it comes to Brandon Nimmo, there’s a lot to like. He hustles all the time, he’s fast, and he’s an on base machine. He’s also a pretty good defensive outfielder.
Well, that’s the case if you keep him out of center.
By all accounts, Nimmo should be good there. He’s got the speed to thrive. He busts it all the time. Seeing him at the plate, you know he has a good eye.
And yet, he’s never posted a positive DRS or UZR in center. He did enter 2020 with a 3 OAA, but with his -4 OAA in center this year, he’s a -1 OAA now for his career.
Now, you could make the argument Nimmo was a positive OAA in previous years, and as such, he could be counted upon to be that again. After all, 2020 was a bizarre year which led to many strange outlier results.
That said, 2020 was also the first time Nimmo was an everyday CF at the Major League level. As a result, all the stats we see on him are the results of a small sample size.
The only thing we can see is his OAA is starting to reflect what we’ve seen with his DRS and UZR. The reason for that is quite likely is his Jump numbers have always been poor.
In 2020, Nimmo was a -1.7 feet vs. average. The previous year he was -0.2. In 2018, he was a 0.1. Fact is, he’s not getting that initial break on the ball, and his ability to do so seems to be regressing.
Now, you could well argue he plays passable enough defense in center, and there is some indications he could halt the regression and improve. Unfortunately, that’s a poor approach to handling the position.
As previously noted, there’s a correlation between strong outfield defense and winning. That’s especially the case with CF defense. Take a look at the last few World Series winners:
- 2020 – Cody Bellinger (5 DRS/7 OAA)
- 2019 – Victor Robles (23 DRS/22 OAA)
- 2018 – Jackie Bradley Jr. (-1 DRS/9 OAA)
- 2017 – George Springer (6 DRS/1 OAA)
With respect to Bradley, that’s where we see a DRS/OAA split. While he rated poorly in DRS that season, he had a very strong 9 OAA. The DRS/OAA differences aside, we see strong center field defense is a necessity if you want to win.
Sure, Nimmo can be passable at times. You could argue he may not hurt you. However, he doesn’t help the Mets at a crucial defensive position, one of increased importance in the launch angle era.
Looking back at the above list, both Bradley and Springer are available this offseason. While Bradley may not be a good investment, Springer is everything the Mets need and want in center.
Springer is a good defensive center fielder. He’s a right handed bat in a heavy left handed hitting lineup. He’s a player who pushes Nimmo to LF where he belongs.
Nimmo is a good left fielder. Springer is a good center fielder. Finally, Michael Conforto is good in right. That’s an outfield alignment which helps secures outs and rakes. Arguably, it would be the best in the game.
No matter how many ways you look at it, the Mets are best served getting Nimmo out of center and getting a real center fielder, preferably Springer. If they do that, this Mets team takes a massive step forward towards winning a World Series.