What do the Mets have in Brandon Nimmo?

nimmoWhen the Mets selected Brandon Nimmo with the 13th-overall pick of the 2011 Draft, no one was sure what the team was getting, even more so than with most draft picks. With Spring Training games now underway in 2017, in some ways, things haven’t changed much. Can anyone answer the question of what the Mets have with Nimmo?

Ideally, they would have someone ready to take over the center field position in 2018, once Curtis Granderson moved on when his contract was up. It would be okay if Nimmo proved capable of being the larger half of a CF platoon, allowing the club to find some regular playing time for Juan Lagares. It would even be acceptable if he became a reliable bench player, someone capable of filling in at all three outfield positions whenever needed.

Since the Mets are willing to play Granderson in center at his advanced age and after not playing the position regularly in years, it’s clear they are not adamant about having a defensive whiz at the position. Yet even knowing that, do you have any idea if the Mets consider Nimmo a center fielder right now on anything more than a temporary/sporadic basis?

Nimmo played all of nine innings in center in the majors last year. It’s not exactly a ringing endorsement for future employment at the position. Yet with Yoenis Cespedes now on a multi-year contract and Michael Conforto still firmly in the team’s plans, if Nimmo is to make any kind of major impact for the club, the most likely place is in center field.

A bunch of leg injuries suffered in the minors has robbed Nimmo of his once plus speed. A player with great instincts could compensate for that but no scouting report that jumps to mind has ever labeled Nimmo with that defensive attribute.

The Mets have played two Grapefruit League games and Nimmo has seen action in both of them. Yet even here where wins and losses are of a secondary importance, the Mets have played Nimmo in left field rather than center. Instead, they’ve used this time to see Champ Stuart in center. You may recall that Stuart had a 36.0 K% in 203 PA in Double-A last year. Stuart has been up to bat three times so far and struck out in all three.

It’s disappointing if you want to see if Nimmo can hack it in center and instead see early playing time going to Stuart. Now, odds are likely that Stuart will be among the first cuts in camp. But the regulars will start playing more and the club certainly wants Lagares to get a big number of PA this Spring.

Additionally, it looks like the Mets play just three split-squad games in Grapefruit League play – Mar 8, 10 and 27.

Nimmo had a pretty good year with the bat in Triple-A last year, putting up a .352/.423/.541 line in 444 PA. But remember we have to take the air out of those stats. Our standard translations show that as the equivalent of a .342 OBP and a .357 SLG in the majors. In 80 PA with the Mets last year, Nimmo produced a .338/.329 OBP/SLG.

Can the 6’3, 205 pounder produce better slugging marks in the majors? He had just two extra-base hits so the answer better be yes. The OBP looks okay but the slugging is a big question mark. Recall that the Mets were happy with Kirk Nieuwenhuis defensively. But with his .704 OPS in 669 PA with the club, the Mets decided he couldn’t be a platoon player, even with an .855 OPS against righties in 2014.

So, we’re hopeful of seeing Nimmo get some time in center during Grapefruit League play. We’d also like to see some power from him. Preferably he’ll do both of these things, in Spring Training and wherever he opens the year. He’s going to have to do at least one of them to avoid being nothing more than the 25th man on the roster, a spot that will be his only as long as he’s not being paid much.

Assuming no major deal and no major injury, the Mets will have to decide if Conforto or Nimmo is the club’s fifth outfielder for Opening Day. Normally in this situation, whoever has the better Spring would get the gig. But the club has to determine if regular playing time for Conforto trumps being on the bench. Because at this juncture, everyone views Conforto as a future starter. And Nimmo looks more and more like he’s destined to land on the island of misfit toys.

16 comments for “What do the Mets have in Brandon Nimmo?

  1. Eraff
    February 26, 2017 at 8:34 am

    If your starting point in “translating” MILB stats is a 699 OPS at the MLB level….. that could be the starting point for a 24 year old LH hitter who can play all the OF Positions. That makes him a pretty good platoon target and a guy who will get lots of shots to make a go of it.

    If he can grow that up to a 725-750 ops, its a decent level….he’ll need to grow out the pop to get a regular job. Although Nimmo has struck out a good deal, he’s also shown himself to be pretty selective…strong Walk Rate — identifying pitches may help him unravel more power going forward

    • February 26, 2017 at 9:40 am

      Well, they waived Kirk Nieuwenhuis twice, so clearly they want more than that.

      • Eraff
        February 26, 2017 at 6:27 pm

        Kirk was striking out 30-40% of the time as a 27 year old—again…… do you judge Nimmo as capped as what he is?

        He’ll get his shots.

        • February 26, 2017 at 7:24 pm

          Skills don’t get better when you don’t play.

          I thought Kirk was perfectly fine as a fifth outfielder as long as his salary was low. The Mets felt differently. I think Nimmo is worth playing in CF. The Mets feel differently. I worry that ultimately he suffers the same fate with the Mets as Kirk. We’ll see what the Mets think.

        • Jimmy P
          February 26, 2017 at 9:30 pm

          Kirkkkkk career .735 OPS vs. RHP, some pop and quality glove. Should never bat against LHP.

          A useful reserve, exposed if too many ABs.

          And you don’t feel bad if he sits for 10 games.

  2. Jimmy P
    February 26, 2017 at 10:43 am

    I said this last year around this time, or thereabouts, but Kirkkkkk is a more useful player than Nimmo, because of his glove.

    Nimmo seems to need a shot that the Mets won’t give him.

    Long ago it was obvious that much of his value was tied up in his ability to play CF, so it’s been disappointing to see him, say, in LF in Binghamton. Last year the Mets were desperate for a CFer and they simply didn’t give Nimmo a sniff at that position. It spoke volumes.

    So now he needs to show power, because nobody wants a corner outfielder who can’t hit for pop.

    In basketball, we call these guys “tweeners.” Not quick enough or skilled enough to play on the perimeter, not big enough to knock around underneath. They succeed until they hit a certain level. The 6-3 power forward. Nimmo is all-around good and but not particularly outstanding at anything other than plate discipline. He’s not a speed guy, or a power guy, or a good glove (his routes looked bad last year), and he’s been exposed against LHP.

    And yet, and yet.

    He seems like a future Rule V guy to me. A player who gets picked up on waiters. But at the same time, he’s close to being good. I think he’ll need a shot with a second-division club, to see if he can become the next Nick Markakis.

    I have more hope for Cecchini, and secretly wonder if the Mets would be better off next season with Cecchini & Flores & Rivera at 2B, and using that $15 million for something else instead of Neil Walker.

    Side note: Troubling that Duda is getting cortisone shots in his hips.

    • February 26, 2017 at 11:24 am

      I wish the Mets would have one of their goals this ST of getting Nimmo as much playing time as possible in CF and Cecchini the same thing at 2B. Neither player may be able to cut it there but I’d prefer the brass to make that decision after seeing for themselves, not relying exclusively on what coaches and scouts in the minors tell them.

    • MattyMets
      February 26, 2017 at 11:32 am

      JimmyP, your basketball analogy is spot on. My take is that Bruce needs to be off this roster before the season starts.

  3. Jim OMalley
    February 26, 2017 at 10:46 am

    During yesterday’s broadcast, they mentioned the “energy” level which he brings. I have to agree with that. He hustles when he plays.

  4. TexasGusCC
    February 26, 2017 at 11:54 am

    Like Jim, I like how Nimmo plays. It’s important for the organization to create opportunities for their younger players. A mixture of a GM that believes in the back of the baseball card and a manager that won’t play a young player is a mixture for a team that doesn’t have a future. Kids need to play and no team has needed all eight cylinders firing in the lineup to win.

    The Mets last year should have seen the writing in the wall and not gotten Bruce and bring up some kids. But, it all about giving an image to sell tickets. They got an extra play-in game.

  5. Popeye
    February 26, 2017 at 12:32 pm

    Gotta think Nimmo goes in a July trade package.

  6. Frank from jersey
    February 26, 2017 at 2:59 pm

    Never liked picking Nimmo in the first round, I just couldn’t understand it and here we are talking about our 1st rd pick as barely making it as a 5th outfielder.

    • TexasGusCC
      February 26, 2017 at 4:26 pm

      Truth is that while Alderson makes his mark with the Dickey trade, many more transactions have been questionable than not. The free agents were usually questionable, their draft picks before the 2013 draft were head scratchers, and several trades were just dumb. The Alex Torres trade after trading for Blevins earlier that day and the day teams had to pair rosters so several lefties were cut, trading for Kelly Johnson twice when the second time he was available to be signed as a free agent, the rumored non-trades of Murphy for Marte or Ike for Britton, the Bruce trade, and a personal favorite cutting Justin Turner because he was “lazy”. That’s all that comes to mind now, but I’m sure there are more.

      I know this may sound like hindsight, but these were moves I specifically remember and remember the many posts of people wondering what these people were thinking.

  7. Name
    February 26, 2017 at 3:56 pm

    “The Mets have played two Grapefruit League games and Nimmo has seen action in both of them. Yet even here where wins and losses are of a secondary importance, the Mets have played Nimmo in left field rather than center.”

    I don’t share this point of view.
    This isn’t a guy you’re trying to teach a position for the first time and who needs reps. Nimmo has played over 3500 innings in CF at the minor league level and over 500 innings at Vegas last year. We should already have a crap ton of data on him in CF. How much more could we “learn” from watching him for another 100? And it’s not like he’s going to get that much better during this time either.

    I don’t think it matters whether or not he plays CF during Spring Training any more than is needed for him to get up to speed and feel comfortable there.

    Also since we are throwing out comps, his high walk/low power combo reminds me a lot more of den Dekker than Kirk.

    • Jimmy P
      February 27, 2017 at 9:39 am

      I was interested in MdD when he was moving through the system as (supposedly) a great glove with power (who struck out all the time).

      The power and the glove made him interesting, despite the Ks.

      Then he changed his approach, struck out less, but the power disappeared — and so did my hope for him.

  8. February 27, 2017 at 9:14 am

    Nimmo could end up going to the Braves when the Mets trade for Kelly Johnson again…

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