After Jay Bruce and Curtis Granderson were traded, Michael Conforto and Yoenis Cespedes got injured. Finally, it was time to see what Juan Lagares and Brandon Nimmo could do if they played every day. Both have impressed, but one of them has been particularly impressive offensively. I’ll give you a hint — he smiles a lot.
This season, Nimmo is batting .282/.413/.409 with three home runs, 14 RBIs and has a 126 wRC+ in 51 games. The eye is drawn to that .413 on base percentage, which is ironic because his eye is the reason for it.
Since Aug. 23, he’s behind only Mike Trout and Joey Votto in walks drawn. He’s also 10th in OBP and ninth in runs scored during that span. Both Trout and Votto hit for power as well, something not on Nimmo’s resumé. However, that is beginning to change.
The 24-year-old has always had the potential for power, but his swing historically has not resulted in balls that clear the fence. He is hitting more fly balls nowadays, culminating in a two-homer game.
“I can’t believe I hit two home runs in a Major League game,” Nimmo said after the game, probably smiling. “I was in shock going around the bases.”
While he came up as a center fielder, his best position seems to be left field. In 126.0 innings there this season, he has a 0.7 UZR and 1 DRS (compared to Juan Lagares’ 7.1 UZR and 14 DRS in center field). When Yoenis Cespedes and Michael Conforto both come back next season, hopefully healthy, it will be interesting to see where everyone goes defensively.
Yoenis Cespedes seems to refuse to play anywhere other than left field. Juan Lagares is one of the best center fielders in baseball, if not the best, so it would be inadvisable to play him anywhere else. That leaves right field to Michael Conforto – but if Nimmo continues to get on base at this alarming rate while hitting for some power, the 2018 Mets manager will have to find a spot for him.
His main competition in the lineup would likely be Juan Lagares if Cespedes and Conforto return healthy. Lagares is hitting .258/.300/.389 with the same three home runs and 14 RBIs. Nimmo has clearly been the better hitter, but Lagares has saved 13 more runs on defense in just 425.1 innings.
It most likely depends on what the rest of the line-up is doing. If the rest of the offense is doing its job and putting up plenty of runs a game, Lagares could get more playing time. If the offense is struggling to get going, Nimmo would look great atop the line-up.
2018 aside, right now Nimmo has emerged as a legitimate offensive threat. He might not hit 30 home runs in a season, but batting first or second in the line-up, he can get on base at a .400 clip setting the table for the power hitters. If he keeps this up, the Mets will have a good problem to have come 2018.