General manager Brodie Van Wagenen has quickly made his mark on the New York Mets’ roster by the sheer number of acquisitions he’s made over the past few months. The organization’s performance floor as a squad has certainly been lifted, and projection systems like PECOTA give them a shot at returning to the playoffs for the first time since 2016.
These acquisitions won’t mean much if New York’s current young core doesn’t perform up to expectation. Despite the team’s overall struggles throughout 2018, their outfield as a whole was one of the better units in baseball when looking at cumulative fWAR. It was obviously top-heavy, as Brandon Nimmo (4.5 fWAR) and Michael Conforto (3.0 fWAR) combined to produced virtually all of the outfield’s 8.3 total fWAR.
They’re each important pieces to this year’s squad and into the immediate future. Nimmo is the elite on-base threat the Mets need at the top of their lineup, while Conforto and his sweet swing can provide thump in the middle. Both healthy and ready to contribute on a daily basis starting on March 28th, Nimmo and Conforto have a chance at becoming quite the outfield duo.
Looking at Top-Tier MLB Outfield Production in 2018
When looking specifically at outfielders who qualified for the batting title last year, there were only nine who produced a season-long fWAR of at least 4.0. Below is that list of players with their corresponding fWAR (J.D. Martinez and Giancarlo Stanton don’t count because they spent the majority of their games as a designated hitter).
Betts, Benintendi, Yelich, and Cain are the only people to fall on this list with a teammate. Yelich and Cain get extra points for both getting above 5.0. This was also a rare occurrence in 2017, with Stanton, Yelich, and Marcell Ozuna being the only trio of teammates on the list before the Marlins started shipping them out of town.
Upon seeing the names that have popped up in the above group, it’s even more impressive to see Nimmo sneak his way in there during his first full big-league campaign. Having both him and Scooter gain entry into this club in 2019 would certainly distinguish themselves in a special way.
Mets’ Top-Tier Outfield Production Since 2000
Surprisingly (or not surprisingly) enough, this kind of teammate production in the outfield is rare on a franchise level, too. Here’s the exhaustive list of qualified Mets hitters who have accumulated at least 4.0 fWAR in a season since the turn of the century (Conforto’s 4.4 in ’17 doesn’t make the cut because he didn’t qualify for the batting title):
As we can see, Beltran accounts for half of the total occurrences here. Seems like he was pretty good. Obviously, none of these happened in the same year, so Nimmo and Conforto would immediately distinguish themselves as one of the better outfield duos in recent franchise history.
Looking Ahead to 2019
Clearly, this all hinges on the notion that both young outfielders continue progressing in their development. I recently talked about how this year is a crucial one for Conforto, but the same goes for Nimmo. He didn’t have to report to spring training with the hope of winning a big-league roster spot. He’s firmly in the club’s plans for the near future and is an important piece to the top of Mickey Callaway‘s lineup.
They’ve each showed the capability of generating at least 4.0 fWAR in a single season, and I wouldn’t be shocked — considering the circumstances and their specific situations — to see them both have that number crest over 5.0 in 2019. Conforto sticking in right field will help him focus, and the additions of Robinson Cano, Wilson Ramos, and (eventually) Jed Lowrie will help take the pressure off each of them.
They’re important to the Mets’ success, but the Mets’ success doesn’t completely hinge on how they perform. Let’s hope that can lead to Nimmo and Conforto taking another collective step forward with their on-field production this season.