Sometimes, a player gets tagged with a ridiculous label, and no matter how much they do to dispel it, it continues. Maybe it’s because Mike Francesa said it, or maybe it’s because people don’t appreciate him for some reason.
Whatever the case, Brandon Nimmo is not a fourth outfielder.
Calling him that is laughably absurd, and those doing it needs to stop. There is no evidence whatsoever which supports that position.
Nimmo broke out in 2018. In that season, Nimmo surpassed expectations hitting .263/.404/.483 with 28 doubles, eight triples, 17 homers, and 47 RBI. In that season and going forward, Nimmo has established himself as a good baseball player and terrific lead-off hitter.
Since 2018, Nimmo has posted a 140 wRC+. That’s the best mark of anyone on the Mets, and it’s the 12th best in the majors. Among outfielders, he’s ranked sixth.
When you look at WAR, he’s posted a 6.7 bWAR and a 7.3 fWAR. Yes, you’d probably expect that to be higher given his offense. However, there are a few reasons it’s lower.
First, Nimmo dealt with a neck injury in 2019 limiting him to 69 games. That had an impact on his production. However, it’s important to note he came back healthy and proved he could produce at his 2018 levels. He did just that in 2020.
The other reason Nimmo’s WAR takes a hit is because he’s playing out of position in center. As a corner outfielder, Nimmo has a 9 OAA and 4 DRS. As a centerfielder, he has a -1 OAA and -14 DRS. When he’s out of center, his defense doesn’t negatively impact his WAR.
Putting all that aside, Nimmo’s WAR over the past three seasons is 22nd best in the majors. This past season he was ranked 21st.
Looking at the leaderboard, Nimmo would be the best outfielder on 21 of the 30 MLB teams. Only the Dodgers, Brewers, Diamondbacks, and Mets have two outfielders ranked higher than him. In terms of the Mets, with Jeff McNeil returning to the infield, that leaves just three teams.
This means if Nimmo were to be dropped on any MLB roster, he’d be one of the best outfielders on that team. Likely, he’d be a top two outfielder on that team.
This isn’t what a fourth outfielder looks like. This is what an All-Star caliber outfielder looks like. That’s really what Nimmo is.
To call Nimmo a fourth outfielder is to say he’s no better than them, and that’s absurd. Nimmo is far better than them. When you look at the numbers, Nimmo is better than the majority of Major League outfielders.
As the New York Mets continue to build their roster, one area they need to address is depth a versatility. Case in point, Guillermo Heredia, a player with a career 84 wRC+ and -7 DRS in center is slated to be the team’s fourth outfielder.
Looking at the free agent list, one name which really stands out is Enrique Hernandez. He’s a very versatile player who is a right-handed bat which can compliment a very heavy left-hand hitting Mets roster.
Hernandez has been a good to adequate defender across the diamond. In 2020, he played every position but third recording a 0 OAA at each position. In fact, he’s never been worse than a -3 OAA at any position in his career.
What really stands out is his good he’s been at second and center. At second, he has a career 2 OAA and an 18 DRS. In center, he has a career 4 OAA and 4 DRS. That also happens to be two big areas of need.
With center, Hernandez can be a late inning defensive replacement there. He can also be that at second for Jeff McNeil thereby allowing McNeil to move to third. Of course, this assumes the Mets don’t add new starters at these positions.
Even if they do, Hernandez can still serve as a defensive replacement. Moreover, with no DH in the NL, Hernandez is a strong option to double switch into games. Really, he plays seven defensive positions, and he’s quite good in the outfield and second.
On that note, Hernandez isn’t the strongest hitter. He has a career 99 wRC+. That’s been dragged down by consecutive sub 90 wRC+ seasons.
Still, Hernandez has traditionally hit left-handed pitchers well. Since 2015, he’s posted a 122 wRC+ against them. That’s one of the reasons Dave Roberts controversially started him against David Price in Game 5 of the 2018 World Series.
Whatever the impetus was for that decision, it’s apparent Hernandez can hit left-handed pitching, and he’s a good defender. With his versatility, he can platoon in center with Brandon Nimmo or with McNeil at second.
Hernandez is a player you can trust starting for small stretches in case of injury. He’s also accustomed to producing with irregular playing time. He can give you very good defense and hit left-handed pitching.
Overall, Hernandez just complements this Mets roster. He provides a balance to a team which is left-handed hitting friendly, and he’s a good defensive player across the diamond. As a result, the Mets should strongly consider him.
The New York Mets got their star in Francisco Lindor. The question now is how to best build the rest of the roster to help the Mets win the division.
There are still some areas which need to be addressed with third base being one of the bigger issues. While J.D. Davis is the incumbent, the Mets do not appear eager to put him there and rightfully so due to Davis’ career -19 DRS and -6 OAA make him completely unplayable there.
Looking forward, one thing Mets GM Jared Porter spoke about addressing run prevention. Another way to phrase that is putting an improved defensive team on the field.
One of the best ways to build the best defensive team would be for the Mets to sign reigning Gold Glover Kolten Wong to play second base. Simply put, Wong is the best defensive second baseman in the game which is why he’s won consecutive Gold Gloves.
Over the past three years, Wong’s 37 DRS is a significant step above the next best player. This is part of the reason why Wong has amassed the fifth best WAR over this timeframe over players whose primary positions over this timeframe has been second base.
Pairing Wong with Lindor would make this easily the best defensive tandem up the middle in the majors. For that matter, it could be better than Edgardo Alfonzo and Rey Ordoñez up the middle. That’s just how good they could be.
This would also be a huge turnaround for the current Mets. Since 2017, Mets second basemen have a -35 DRS, which is third worst in the majors. Over the same time period, their shortstops have had a -62 DRS, which is by far the worst in the majors.
All told, since the Mets last made the postseason, they’ve been the worst defensive team in the majors, and really, it’s not close. Adding Wong to Lindor would turn one of the team’s biggest weaknesses and make it a significant strength.
That means more ground balls become outs, and more double plays get turned. Marcus Stroman and his career 58.6 GB% and Carlos Carrasco with his career 48.6 GB% would become even more formidable pitchers. There’s also sinkerballer David Peterson who could benefit. Really, all Mets pitchers would benefit.
This means pitchers go deeper into games saving the bullpen. That keeps everyone stronger as they work their way through the season and hopefully head to the postseason.
Overall, adding Wong’s glove and league average bat (103 wRC+ since 2017) adds a dynamic to the Mets missing for 20 years. It gives the Mets superior up the middle defense helping the pitching staff and making the overall team better. As a result, signing Wong should now be a priority.
In case you were skeptical this was indeed a new era of New York Mets baseball, the Mets just acquired Francisco Lindor and Carlos Carrasco from the Cleveland Indians. With that, the Mets added a top five player in the game at short, and they added a top of the rotation caliber pitcher to pair with Jacob deGrom and Marcus Stroman.
When you add these players to a core with Michael Conforto, Brandon Nimmo, James McCann, Pete Alonso, Jeff McNeil, and Dominic Smith. Whether or not the Mets add another starter, bullpen arm, third baseman, or center fielder, the Mets already have the pieces in place to be a true World Series contender.
Just think about it for a moment. Assuming Noah Syndergaard returns this season, this is currently the Mets rotation:
Even if the Mets don’t go out there and sign a George Springer or add a third baseman, this is what the Mets lineup could look like during the course of the 2021 season:
- Brandon Nimmo, CF
- Michael Conforto, RF
- Pete Alonso, 1B
- Dominic Smith, LF
- Francisco Lindor, SS
- Jeff McNeil, 3B
- James McCann, C
- Luis Guillorme 2B
Sure, this Mets team could definitively stand to get better defensively in the outfield. That said, that infield defensive alignment is quite good, especially up the middle, and that lineup is as strong and deep as they come. This is a team who can go toe-to-toe with the defending division champion Atlanta Braves and the reigning World Series champion Los Angeles Dodgers. Right now, this is a great baseball team.
What’s even better is the Mets are not done with their offseason. They are still going to add more pieces. That could include Springer, and it could be a reliever like Brad Hand. There are are likely going to be depth pieces added beyond this group. When all is said and done, the Mets with Steve Cohen, Sandy Alderson, and Jared Porter have already done and will continue to do what Jeff Wilpon and Brodie Van Wagenen could never even dream of doing.
Today is a great day in Mets history. Today is just like the day the Mets acquired Keith Hernandez, Gary Carter, and Mike Piazza. The Mets got a future Hall of Famer in his prime, and they completely changed the trajectory of the franchise both this year and in the years to come.
Lets Go Mets!
One of the best parts of the 2020 season was watching Luis Guillorme and Andres Gimenez perform pure magic in the middle infield. It rivaled Edgardo Alfonzo and Rey Ordóñez, and at times, you could imagine it being better.
Luis Guillorme and Andrés Giménez are making it look it easy out here. pic.twitter.com/NFRyvPzin6
— SNY (@SNYtv) August 12, 2020
Rick Porcello gets a BIG double play to end the 4th 🙌 pic.twitter.com/Yie43Yclep
— SNY (@SNYtv) August 12, 2020
Luis Guillorme can pitch and make great plays in the field. Versatility >>> pic.twitter.com/uzEQkSyYb2
— SNY (@SNYtv) August 11, 2020
If you value up the middle defense and believe it’s a key to winning, there is arguably none better than the tandem of Guillorme and Gimenez. In 2021, Gimenez seems to be a lock at short, but we don’t ever hear Guillorme’s name for consideration of the starting second base job.
In just 102.0 innings at second last year, he had a 1 OAA and a 12.5 UZR/150. In his Major League career, he’s played 176.0 innings accumulating a 2 DRS and a 2 OAA.
While this is a small sample size, Guillorme was always known for elite defense. It’s one of the reasons the Mets once protected him from the Rule 5 Draft and have kept him as a utility player.
We’ve seen through Mets and baseball history glove first players like Guillorme can play everyday and be a tremendous asset. The classic example in Mets history is Ordóñez and Juan Lagares in 2013 and 2014.
When it comes to Guillorme, he’s a more promising hitter than those two elite defenders. We saw a classic example of that when he posted a 144 wRC+ with a career best 14.7% walk rate.
Of course, his .463 BABIP is unsustainable. Still, behind that were some sustainable things like the improved walk rate. Other important factors are his opposite field approach and improved line drive rate.
Guillorme knows what he is as a hitter, and he’s maximizing his skill set. Where he winds up as a hitter is a good guess, but you can probably safely assume he’ll hit enough to justify his Gold Glove caliber defense at second.
Now, if Jeff McNeil can handle third, Guillorme needs to be strongly considered at second. In terms of the current roster, Guillorme at second and McNeil at third is probably their best roster.
Of course, free agency and trades can change that. However, up until there’s a clear obvious upgrade available, and those options may not be readily attainable for the Mets, Guillorme needs to finally get the chance at a starting position.
With Ha-Seong Kim signing with the San Diego Padres, the New York Mets ability to obtain a third baseman grew exponentially more difficult. That’s not to say there aren’t options.
Nolan Arenado and Kris Bryant remain on the trade bloc. Of course, pulling the trigger on a deal for either player is extraordinarily difficult due to the damage Brodie Van Wagenen inflicted on the Mets farm system.
Looking at the remaining free agent third base market, Justin Turner is the only everyday third baseman available. There are many obstacles with him including his age and desire to stay with the Los Angeles Dodgers.
This leaves the Mets going all-in on the aforementioned trade options or getting creative.
The creative options involve the Mets addressing second base. That could be signing DJ LeMahieu, or better yet, Kolten Wong. Luis Guillorme could be given the starting second base job he’s more than earned, or the team could go with Andres Gimenez there with Amed Rosario back at short.
These and other options are on the table so long as the Mets believe they can entrust the third base job to Jeff McNeil.
Now, last year, the Mets gave up on McNeil at third rather quickly. There were many reasons why including J.D. Davis‘ ineptitude in left. Of course, Davis was equally inept at third (again) causing this issue.
The other reason why the Mets moved McNeil from third was McNeil struggled there. In 75.0 innings, he had a -2 OAA and a 0 DRS. Part of the issue was he struggled with his throws.
This should give everyone pause, but it should be remembered 75.0 innings is the epitome of a small sample size. Another issue is the bizarre nature of the 2020 season. Taking all that into account, we shouldn’t overreact to McNeil’s third base defense.
Entering last season, McNeil had a career 3 OAA and 5 DRS at third. Of note, that was still a small sample size with his having played 173.1 innings over the span of two years.
However, while he’s doesn’t have extensive third base experience in the majors, he played over a thousand innings at third in the minors. This leaves the impression the Mets believe he can handle the position.
Well, maybe. In Sandy Alderson’s first Mets stint, he was reluctant to call-up McNeil saying he wasn’t a third baseman. When Robinson Cano was suspended, Alderson said third was “up in the air.” All told, in typical Alderson fashion, we’re still not quite sure what he thinks.
Whatever the case, McNeil is easily the best in-house option. As the options for third dry up and look all the more unattainable, he increasingly becomes the only option there leaving the Mets to replace Cano at second with someone else.
At least with second, there are plenty of very good options remaining. Unfortunately, McNeil is probably not one of those options as the Mets could very well need him at third.
When it comes to players from other leagues, you can never be too sure how well their skills and stats translate. That is partially the result of MLB being that much better than the other leagues.
Even no doubt candidates like Hideki Matsui put up lesser numbers in MLB. That said, Matsui was a very good player who was a two time All-Star and World Series MVP.
However, that’s Japan. The KBO doesn’t have as many success stories partially because they haven’t sent over as many players. That said, you can see some examples where KBO players played well after coming overseas.
Jung-Ho Kang had a 126 OPS+ in his first two seasons with the Pittsburgh Pirates before his legal troubles. Eric Thames went to the KBO to resurrect his career, and it worked. In his first three seasons back in the majors, he had a 118 OPS+.
Looking at these and all foreign players, there is one guiding principle. If you’re a talented player, you will succeed in the majors. That brings us to Ha-Seong Kim.
Kim has been great in his seven seasons hitting .294/.373/.493. Using ZiPs, Dan Symborski of Fangraphs projects Kim to hit .274/.373/.477 with 23 homers and 82 RBI. In terms of advanced stats, Kim protects to have a 117 OPS+ and 3.8 fWAR.
Now, this is where Kim’s position would matter a great deal. At shortstop, he’d be a potential top five hitter in the league. At third, he’s just middle of the pack to possibly lower.
Lost in that are two things. First and foremost, it’s a projection. Second and perhaps more importantly, Kim will be 26 next year meaning he’s about to enter his prime and potentially put up bigger numbers.
Another important consideration is the bat is just part of the equation. His defense is a factor as well.
Kim won back-to-back Gold Gloves at shortstop. He didn’t repeat in 2020, but part of the reason why was his team signed Addison Russell. With Russell at short, Kim moved to third where he played well.
Looking at the complete picture. Kim looks like he’ll be an above-average hitter, and at third, he could be an above-average defender. All-in-all, that makes a good baseball player who could help the Mets significantly.
Keep in mind, J.D. Davis has twice proven he can’t play the position, and there are significant question marks about Jeff McNeil‘s ability to handle the position on a daily basis. Luis Guillorme and Amed Rosario are other options, but their bats may not play well there.
Looking at free agency, Justin Turner is the best MLB option. The problem there is he’s 36 and not guaranteed to want to move back east. On the trade market, there’s Nolan Arenado and Kris Bryant, but they’ll be difficult to obtain with the way Brodie Van Wagenen needlessly ravaged the farm system.
That brings us back to Kim. Arguably, there’s no free agent with his upside or ability to help the Mets branch out to another market. He could fit very well into the lineup and make the Mets significantly improved defensively. While he may not be a sure get to see his skills translate well, we’ve seen other KBO players successfully make the jump, and we see Kim is immensely talented.
All told, you can see why the Mets are interested. Hopefully, they can get a deal done and lock down third base for the next 5-10 years.
The concept of the untouchable player is a fallacy. That goes for any player including Mike Trout. For the right price, even he could be traded.
That said, when we talk untouchable we mean a player who can’t be replaced on the roster. In terms of the Mets, there’s only three such players on the roster.
First and foremost, Jacob deGrom is untouchable. Not only has he established himself as the best pitcher in baseball, but he’s also on a very reasonable contract. There’s nothing on the free agent or trade market available where you can replace him.
The next untouchable player is Seth Lugo, and last season is exactly the reason why. In Lugo, the Mets have one of the best and most versatile relievers in baseball. He can pitch multiple innings, get a key out, and get the save.
If you’re in a jam, Lugo can also start. No, he is not nearly as dominant as a starter. However, he can be stretched to be either a dominant opener or a competent fifth starter. Looking across baseball, there really isn’t another pitcher who offers that, not even Josh Hader.
Finally, the Mets last untouchable is Jeff McNeil. He’s that mostly because his versatility allows the Mets to build the best possible roster.
McNeil is a good defender at second and left. He can hold his own at third and right. He’s a unique batter in this era in that he’s up to hit, and he puts the ball in play. In McNeil, you’re getting a modern day Ben Zobrist in the field and a slower version of Ichiro Suzuki at the plate.
In these three players, the Mets have truly unique players whose skill sets cannot easily be replicated. In fact, you can argue, their skill sets cannot be replicated. At their relative prices, it’s nearly impossible.
As for the rest of the roster, while there are extremely good players across, they just don’t rise to this level.
While you may want to argue Pete Alonso or Dominic Smith, they are both first baseman. In fact, they’re both All-Star caliber first basemen. Unfortunately, there’s just one first base, and there’s no DH.
Andres Gimenez is very promising, but this is an organization with a lot of shortstop talent. That includes Amed Rosario, who is a capable MLB starter, and Luis Guillorme, who deserves a fair shot to play everyday.
Michael Conforto and Brandon Nimmo are approaching free agency soon, and the corner outfield position is one which can typically be filled easily. On that note, McNeil can fill one of their spots if necessary.
Like Conforto, Marcus Stroman and Noah Syndergaard are pending free agents making them more movable than they otherwise would be. Also on the pitching front is Edwin Diaz. You’ve seen reason to believe in him and believe he can’t handle New York. At the end of the day, he’s a good closer, but the Mets can always obtain one of them in free agency.
So, overall, the Mets have a deep and interesting roster. However, there are many holes across the roster. Looking at this roster, short of deGrom, Lugo, or McNeil, any of these players should be on the table to address any of the deficiencies this team has.
In his introductory press conference, new New York Mets GM Jared Porter spoke about building depth across the 40 man roster. One area which desperately needs attention is the outfield.
Assuming the Mets sign a center fielder like George Springer, the team will still need a viable fourth outfielder who can step up and start on an extended basis if needed.
And no, Dominic Smith (-2 OAA) and J.D. Davis (-2 OAA) are not outfielders. Smith is a good defensive first baseman, and Davis is a DH. Instead of a first baseman in left, the Mets need an actual outfielder.
Looking at the free agents, there is one name which stands out – Yasiel Puig.
Puig is looking to return to baseball after missing the 2020 season. He had missed out for a variety of mostly inexplicable reasons.
First, he wasn’t signed during the original Spring Training. Then, he would sign a deal with the Atlanta Braves in July. However, that deal fell through when Puig tested positive for COVID19.
Likely, that leaves Puig looking for a one year deal to rebuild value. In the event there are no starting jobs available, the Mets would be a good fit.
When Puig last played, he still had very good speed. He also had improved defensive numbers in right after an unexpected one year drop off in 2018.
In 2019, he struggled offensively by his standards. His 101 wRC+ was tied for a career worst. That was surprising partially because he posted a career best exit velocity. Whatever the case, at worst, Puig can be anticipated provide league average offense. He has a much higher ceiling than that too.
Puig also has some defensive versatility. While he’s spent most of his career in right, he has played center and left. On that point, Puig has been playing center in the Winter Leagues.
Yasiel Puig, playing for the first time since last September, made this athletic play to rob #Angels Luis Rengifo of a hit in LIDOM tonight.
Puig’s initial read wasn’t great but the correction worked out
— Maria Torres (@maria_torres3) December 11, 2020
That work helps him be more versatile. Having a bench player who can play all three outfield positions would be of an enormous benefit to the Mets.
Puig does seem well suited to play in New York as he thrives in the spotlight. He possesses all the tools to be successful with good speed as well as a history of playing good defense and posting strong offensive numbers.
All told, this would make him a great bench option and insurance policy against a Nimmo or Conforto injury. If MLB refuses to acknowledge reason and instead implemented the universal DH, Puig can help be part of that rotation.
There’s a lot of ways Puig can help the Mets, and he’s the best option available for this role. The only issue is whether he’s willing to accept this role. Given his year away from baseball, he might. If so, the Mets should push to sign him.
The New York Mets have a number of needs this offseason, and they’re oft discussed. However, the biggest one that’s overlooked is the giant hole at third base.
Simply put, the Mets cannot afford to put J.D. Davis there again. He’s been terrible at the position in his career, and there’s really no reason to expect any different in 2021.
In his career, Davis has a -19 DRS and -5 OAA in 770.0 MLB innings. With his posting a -8 DRS and -3 OAA at the position in 2020, it would appear his skills are regressing instead of progressing. When you break it down, he’s no more than a 1B/DH thereby leaving the Mets searching for a third baseman.
That’s a spot which likely would’ve gone to Jeff McNeil, who had his own issues at third. However, with Robinson Cano‘s suspension, it would seem McNeil is the everyday second baseman. Accordingly, the Mets will have to look outside the organization to fulfill their third base vacancy.
That is problematic because the options available aren’t great.
After Turner, one popular name in some circles is DJ LeMahieu. There are a number of reasons to be skeptical of LeMahieu including his stats being Yankee Stadium fueled, his price tag, and his declining defense. There’s also the issue of his not actually being a third baseman even if he can reasonably be expected to transition.
After those two, it’s a pretty severe drop-off. Former Mets Asdrubal Cabrera and Neil Walker are probably the next best options, but at this point in their careers, they’re best served being utility players.
Of course all of this depends upon your impression of Ha-Seong Kim. The Kiwoom Heros of the KBO have posted him. With that, he really looks to be the first KBO shortstop entering his prime to come to the MLB.
MLB Trade Rumors calls Kim a “unicorn given his blend of age, power, speed and defensive aptitude at a premium position.”
While Kim is a shortstop, he’s split time between short and third. It will be interesting to see how well he could play in the majors. That said, he’s awfully tantalizing in a very shallow free agent group.
In fact, given Turner’s age and LeMahieu’s many question marks, Kim may be the best option available. In fact, he could be the only real option available to the Mets.
With that being the case, the Mets are in a very difficult situation. They’re either looking to overpay Turner or LeMahieu to get them to come to a team they don’t necessarily want to join, or they’re rolling the dice on Kim. After that, it’s either an internal option or a trade, which is much easier said than done.