Michael Conforto and Brandon Nimmo were both born in March of 1993. Nimmo joined the Mets’ organization first because he went into pro ball directly out of high school while Conforto spent three years in college. However, Conforto made the majors first, due mostly to his strong hitting in the minors but also because Nimmo was slowed by injuries. Coming into the season, if you asked 100 Mets fans who was going to have the better career, all 100 would say Conforto. Now, it’s more likely to be a coin flip.
If we go by lifetime fWAR, Conforto holds a 7.7 to 4.1 edge. But if we look at just 2018, Nimmo is on top by a 2.8 to 0.6 score. We all know the tremendous season Nimmo is having. Conforto is having an up and down year, one that started with him on the DL and one that already contains two extended stretches of bad hitting before the year is even half over.
From 4/13 – 5/6, Conforto put up a .138/.301/.155 line in 73 PA. Then from 6/5 – 6/15 he posted a .069/.229/.172 line in 35 PA. So, in 87 ABs, he posted just a .115 AVG. And he only has 208 ABs on the season so far.
But Conforto has six hits in his last four games, with four of those going for extra bases. Yes, they’ve been in good hitters’ parks in Arizona and Colorado. However, it’s good to see him squaring up the ball. Plus he’s making more contact, too. In his last nine games, spanning 39 PA, Conforto has just 5 strikeouts, for a 12.8 K%. In his first 52 games, covering 212 PA, he had a 25.9 K%.
Meanwhile, Nimmo enters today with the same number of PA (215) that he had in 2017. Let’s compare some numbers:
2017 – .260/.379/.418 with a .348 wOBA and a 117 wRC+
2018 – .287/.409/.596 with a .425 wOBA and a 176 wRC+
Nimmo’s jump in power seems remarkable. But we actually witnessed a big power surge at the end of ’17. In his first 37 games and 79 PA, he had a .308 SLG and a .062 ISO. Then in his final 32 games and 136 PA, he had a .482 SLG and a .214 ISO. Sure, that doesn’t compare to his current .309 ISO. Yet we shouldn’t be completely surprised that he’s hitting for power this season.
Conforto made the All-Star team last year. If selections were based totally on merit, Nimmo would make this year’s squad. Whether he does or not is almost irrelevant. What really matters is that the Mets have two outfielders who are 25 and who both look like stars.
In the next day or so, Nimmo will accumulate enough PA to qualify for the leaderboards. Since they began play in 1962, the Mets have only had two seasons where they had two outfielders age 25 or younger qualify in the same season. In 1978 there was Lee Mazzilli and Steve Henderson. And in 1968 there was Cleon Jones and Ron Swoboda. Must be something about years that end in “8” for the Mets. Jones and Swoboda were a year away from being major contributors to a World Series winner. And Mazzilli was a bench player for the ’86 World Series team but his biggest role might have been the start of trades that led to the acquisition of Ron Darling and Howard Johnson.
I feel confident that if we ran a poll in 1978 that the majority of fans would have picked Mazzilli as the one to end up with a better career. And he did, 14.2 to 10.1, as measured by fWAR. Perhaps the 1968 poll would be closer to even. Jones ended up with a 17.9 to 7.9 fWAR advantage. But instead of guessing what fans thought at the time in those two seasons, let’s find out what fans think today.
Which player will have the better MLB career?
- Michael Conforto (53%, 31 Votes)
- Brandon Nimmo (47%, 27 Votes)
Total Voters: 58