Mets360 2013 projections: Kirk Nieuwenhuis

Next up in our projection series is Kirk Nieuwenhuis. The CF job is Nieuwenhuis’ to lose and at the very least he should get the bigger half of a platoon, at least to start the season. It’s not a coincidence that the Mets played some of their best ball in the early part of last year when Nieuwenhuis was a productive member of the lineup.

After completing their sweep of the Rays, the Mets were 35-29 and Nieuwenhuis had a .298/.360/.429 line following his 2-HR game. For the rest of the season, Nieuwenhuis posted a .130/.193/.234 line and – well you know how the Mets did.

The Mets mercifully sent Nieuwenhuis to the minors at the end of July but he did not get much time to work on his hitting as he came down with another season-ending injury, this time with a partially torn plantar fascia in his right foot. He’s now recovered and receiving playing time in Grapefruit League action.

Here’s what we think Nieuwenhuis will do in 2013:

Nieuwenhuis Projection PA AVG OBP SLG HR RBIs OPS v LHP
Hangley 412 .235 .312 .370 6 56 .460
Joura 275 .230 .293 .360 7 30 .490
Koehler 300 .255 .330 .400 9 20 .530
Mcwilliam 391 .247 .339 .390 9 38 .540
Omalley 325 .232 .302 .371 7 28 .554
Parker 350 .250 .320 .370 9 40 .500
Rogan 426 .275 .320 .415 12 46 .610
Rogers 560 .250 .320 .380 15 60 .555
Stack 501 .273 .335 .400 14 75 .602
Vasile 420 .260 .330 .410 8 43 .550
Walendin 245 .242 .298 .383 10 30 .508

Nieuwenhuis was so helpless last year against LHP that it’s almost a bit of a surprise that no one predicted a .000 OPS versus southpaws, with the assumption that Terry Collins wouldn’t let him get a single PA against a lefty. However, the underreported aspect of last year’s slump at the end of his tenure with the Mets is that Nieuwenhuis was being platooned.

That .427 OPS referenced above over his final 85 PA came overwhelmingly against RHP, the ones he was hitting earlier in the season. Nieuwenhuis finished with a .740 OPS versus righties and a .515 OPS against lefties.

Here’s what the group as a whole thinks Nieuwenhuis will do in 2013:

The primary competition for Nieuwenhuis will come from Collin Cowgill and perhaps Matt Den Dekker. Cowgill has already won fans with his hard-nosed play while Den Dekker lived up to his defensive reputation with a HR-snatching grab.

The best thing a player can do is to hit right away when fans form their first opinion. It worked well for Justin Turner in 2011 and it worked last year with Nieuwenhuis. If Nieuwenhuis hits, there’s little doubt he will be a fan favorite. But if he struggles and either Cowgill or Den Dekker get off to hot starts, it’s easy to imagine Collins making a switch.

Finally, let’s close with a table comparing the Mets360 numbers to those of the projection systems available from FanGraphs:

Nieuwenhuis Projection PA AVG OBP SLG HR RBIs
Bill James 276 .259 .329 .414 7 27
Mets360 382 .250 .320 .383 10 42
Oliver 430 .235 .305 .382 11 46
Steamer 298 .237 .303 .381 7 30
ZiPS 431 .236 .302 .385 10 39

Our projection fits in nicely with the big boys. While optimistic we do not show him with the best in any category. Surprisingly, both Oliver and ZiPS forecast more playing time for Nieuwenhuis than we do. While those two systems both have him with a .687 OPS, we see a .703 mark. Not surprisingly, the top OPS mark – a .743 OPS – comes from the James forecast.

Check back Thursday for our next entry in this series.

4 comments for “Mets360 2013 projections: Kirk Nieuwenhuis

  1. Name
    March 2, 2013 at 4:31 pm

    Unfortunetly for Nieuwenhuis, Cowgill is one of my breakout candidates and so i think he will take over the CF job full time sometime in the summer.

    It’s clear last year that the pitchers adjusted to him, and he couldn’t adjust back to them. It’ll be interesting to see if he can make that adjustment this year.

  2. Metsense
    March 2, 2013 at 6:10 pm

    NL Avg: 15 HR, 64 RBI, .740 OPS
    Nieuwenhuis : 7 HR, 28 RBI, .691 OPS 0.7 UZR
    Valdespin: 8 HR, 26 RBI, .710 OPS -0.8UZR
    Cowgill: 1HR, 9 RBI .653 OPS but 2011 AAA 13 HR, 70 RBI .984 OPS

    Kirk Nieuwenhuis has the advantage going into spring training.
    Collin Cowgill bats right handed and seems to be a front office favorite to take the RH part of the platoon. He also has seized his opportunity so far.
    Jordany Valdespin is a dark horse to beat Kirk out and the door is opening with Kirk off to such a miserable ST start.
    Matt Den Decker would have to have an outstanding spring to get the job. If Valdespin and Nieuwenhuis don’t hit by June then Den Decker might get the job just because of his glove or Cowgill, if he hits, may become the everyday player.
    The Mets second weakest offensive position in 2012 was center field but they do have four young center fielders that show some potential to be average at the position. Centerfield will remain a problem unless one of the four steps up significantly. I don’t see Kirk being the one to ever be an everyday player. The consensus projection seems close enough, as long as he is in a platoon but even under these ideal platoon circumstances, Kirk would still be a less than average NL centerfielder.

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