The Mets’ outfield depth is looking good

Much has been made of the Mets’ starting pitching depth, and with good reason, with some eight pitchers who have had at least some success starting in MLB. Catching depth is also a strength, with Travis d’Arnaud and Kevin Plawecki having good Springs. The depth of the outfield may not have gotten quite as much attention, but it is shaping up to be very good as well.

Jay Bruce figures to be the starting right fielder. He may not have as much range as most outfielders, but he is sure-handed and has that live arm that has racked up double digit outfield assist totals in the past. But it is the bat that sets him apart, he is usually good for around 30 homers and close to or more than 100 RBI. For what it is worth, he’s had a solid ST with a line of .323/.324/.516 as of this writing.

Once he returns from rehabbing his injured shoulder, Michael Conforto figures to be the every day center fielder. He showed last year he can handle the fielding part adequately, although he is more of a natural right fielder. And after a poor 2016, he really broke out with the bat in 2017, putting up a slash line of .279/,384/.555 accompanied by 27 homers in an abbreviated season due to that injury.

Left field will be manned by Yoenis Cespedes, one of the most dangerous hitters in the game, capable of producing tape-measure shots. He’s been pounding the ball this spring with a SLG of .652. He may not be quite as good a fielder as he was earlier in his career, but as recently as 2015 he did win a Gold Glove. Note that all three of these outfielders are power hitters, and it seems like a good part of the time they will form the heart of the lineup.

The fourth outfielder generally gets a fair amount of playing time, and the person filling that role for the Mets will be Brandon Nimmo. He can field all three outfield positions, including center. He showed promise as a high OBP hitter in 2017, but this spring he has added a power dimension, with an ST line of .283/.358/.630 with three homers. Sure it’s only March, but those numbers are encouraging, especially the SLG.

The Mets have a pretty good fifth outfielder in Juan Lagares. His defense is spectacular, he earned a Gold Glove in 2014. His bat, and some injuries, have held him back since that season. In the off season, he retooled his swing and added some muscle. The results in ST are underwhelming, but sometimes it takes awhile to break in a new swing. Think Daniel Murphy in 2015, he had redone his swing but the results did not really kick in until the latter part of the season, and especially the postseason. Perhaps Lagares’ bat will follow a similar trajectory.

The Mets probably won’t have the best outfield in MLB this season, but they might just have the deepest outfield.

14 comments for “The Mets’ outfield depth is looking good

  1. DED
    March 20, 2018 at 9:53 am

    Well. One thing that was once generally assumed and nowadays goes overlooked is the fact that Brandon Nimmo has (virtually) never hit lefthanders at all.

    I mention it now so that, come May 1 or so, no one can view with alarm the startling discovery that Nimmo isn’t faring so well against the lefty’s. He really never has, and ignoring it won’t change the reality.

    • Geoffrey T
      March 22, 2018 at 5:13 pm

      Yes, but for the most part, he won’t have to this year. Lagares can play against lefties. At least for now. If multiple injuries start kicking in, then we might have an issue.

  2. Pal88
    March 20, 2018 at 9:54 am

    I’d still like to see Lagares traded… granted his def ability in CF is arguably one of the top five in the majors, but I don’t see his offensive ability ever being consistent..if we’re talking a fifth OFer then den Decker or even Evans can adequately satisfy that need, and the return for Lagares would certainly be cheaper and possibly a nice addition to the bullpen

    • John Fox
      March 20, 2018 at 1:35 pm

      Last time I looked den Dekker had a pitiful BA

  3. Metsense
    March 20, 2018 at 10:42 am

    When Conforto comes back then they should move Bruce to first base and play a Nimmo/Lagares platoon. I know it isn’t what Bruce signed up for but it makes the team better.

  4. Metictated
    March 20, 2018 at 10:53 am

    Den Dekker is also mostly glove so that’s a definite wash…so, I would give Lagares a month or more to relax and stop pressing. The desire to be outstanding and land a prominent role in the outfield has gotta have him overthinking, especially given his adjustment to a new set of swing mechanics. Does anyone here know what it’s like to hit ninety-plus mile per hour fastballs, let alone put good wood on it and direct its flight? Ever try to hit eighty in the batting cage? Huh? Round ball…round bat…crafty professional pitchers launching balls with extreme velocity, spin, sink, drift etc. Elusive pitchers with deliveries that confuse a hitter. Less than a second to see with naked eyes which pitch, its path, its destination,and to accurately anticipate all those variables alongside implementing the hand eye coordination necessary to wrest control of the ball with the bat….Moreover, to put all those laws of physics into precise efficient motion, with power no less !, All while under the extraordinary pressure to perform in front of huge crowds of demanding fans, not to mention deserve your big salary. Yikes, you could lose your hard-on from less!

  5. Metictated
    March 20, 2018 at 11:31 am

    Contemplating what it takes to become a major league ballplayer.

    Abilities required:

    “Adaptability”- to newly formed approaches, sometimes instantaneously.
    “Adoptability”- to both hear clearly and implement instructions.
    “Adjustability”- to ever changing conditions at will.
    “Flexibility”- to not becoming fixated in one’s previous patterning.

    An athlete even at 25 years young, is likely to have approximately 20 years of muscle memory of hitting, catching, throwing etc. It can be a blessing and a curse. If skills don’t evolve as demand increases, then even a hitter who by comparison to a lesser skilled hitter, (because of his innate natural ability), will stall and not advance, as others even less naturally endowed, will surpass him given they have the above-mentioned qualities. Other factors such as will and determination also loom large as deciding elements.

  6. Pete from NJ
    March 20, 2018 at 2:47 pm

    I would also love seeing Jay Bruce playing 1st base although it seems like that’s not the organization’s of the player’s design. Correct me if I’m wrong but we haven’t seen JB plays first base all spring?

  7. TJ
    March 20, 2018 at 10:10 pm

    While I gained appreciation for Bruce by seeing him every day, and also while I give kudos to Alderson for some rare aggressiveness in jumping on Bruce this winter, it does leave the OF somewhat awkward. An alignment of Cespedes in LF, Conforto in RF, and a Lagares/Nimmo platoon in CF would have been solid and balanced.

    I don’t see them moving Bruce to 1B during the season, barring an absolute emergency. Watching Lagares play CF in person is a thing of beauty, but I sense he will need a decent run of regular play to determine if his new swing makes him a top 3 OF. That is very unlikely to come with the Mets, but I still wouldn’t give him away, his defense is just too good.

    At least it adds an additional level of interest to the season, watching Callaway manage the OF ABs.

  8. Rae
    March 21, 2018 at 8:38 am

    Bruce can play 1B only on a very temporary basis. He is a RF plain and simple, and cannot play 1B on a regular or semi-regular basis. I think the Mets are aware that 1B might turn into a 50% share between AGon, and Wilmer. Wilmer needs at bats, and Agon will need days off due to his age, and his back issues. If Wilmer can also sub at 2B, 3B or even in the OF twice a week he will be playing in over 70% of the games. Conforto plays a decent CF but the Mets really do need an OFer in the ilk of Lagares who can catch the ball. If Lagares is traded then the Mets need to have either Den Decker or Kaczmarski who can also catch the ball nearly as well as Lagares can do. Phillip Evans is a terrific prospect but I do not know if he can play CF like the aforementioned players can?

    • March 21, 2018 at 10:34 am

      Terrific is a wild overstatement on Evans. He was removed from the 40-man roster this winter and no one claimed him. You could probably hide him in an OF corner for a few innings but you’d only play him in CF if Conforto, Lagares, Nimmo, Reyes and MDD were all unavailable.

    • Geoffrey T
      March 22, 2018 at 5:28 pm

      He’s only played a handful of games in left (17), and none in center as a minor leaguer. His range factor was low (1.47) but he didn’t make any errors, and that sample size is technically too small to be valid.
      He also played left in a couple of games this spring. He looks like he has the tool, but he’s still feeling it out and seems a bit awkward. So putting him in center is not a real option at this point. I suspect that he’ll get a lot more playing time in left in Vegas this year and we’ll see where that goes.

  9. Eraff
    March 22, 2018 at 5:54 am

    Juan gets $6million this season, $9.5million next. He’s a really talented guy with 1770 remarkably static ab’s.

    He spent the off season fixing “Not His First Problem”, which is Pitch Identification. His Swing Path adjustment cannot fix his problem with being a Pitcher Victim—- a guy who chases pitches.

    I’ve laways been a Juan Fan, but the Spring ab’s are a re-wind of the first 1770 … there is not a market to exchange him for value

  10. Geoffrey T
    March 22, 2018 at 5:09 pm

    I have a hard time calling this OF good depth. Conforto’s defense in center is adequate, but not contender caliber. Not yet, anyway.
    Lagares has yet to show he can hit on any kind of regular basis. And while Nimmo’s OF play has improved a lot, he’s still not a good fielder. Just adequate in the corners and sub-par in CF. He’s demonstrated only that he might be a major leaguer, not that he is one yet. He struck out 34% of the time, which is a lot for a guy with limited power. Once again, I respect that he has improved and is still improving, and am curious to see how far that goes. But he’s far from being one of the better fourth OFs in the league.
    The simple fact is that if a starter gets injured and the Mets have to rely on these two to play every day, its a crapshoot as to whether they’d get adequate results or not. Plus, there’s absolutely no depth worth speaking of behind these five.

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