The New York Mets are searching for a new center fielder this offseason, but there are only four in baseball better than Brandon Nimmo. According to MLB Network’s Shredder, Nimmo is the fifth-best center fielder in baseball behind Mike Trout, Cody Bellinger, George Springer, and Alex Verdugo.
Brandon Nimmo since 9/1/2019:
.274/.433/.562, 162 wRC+, 20.6 BB%, 23.7 K%, 91.5 Exit Velo
Two hits yesterday: pic.twitter.com/pBaZtOC8MO
— Jacob Resnick (@Jacob_Resnick) July 25, 2020
For those who are not familiar with “The Shredder,” it has a recency bias. Nimmo’s offensive numbers alone can make a case for him to be the best player on the list. His defensive ability in center field tells a different story. Nimmo was one of the worst defensive center fielders in baseball and is why the Mets hope to move him to a corner position.
Trout With Less Power?
Nimmo is so strong offensively that this solely earned him the fifth spot. Nimmo’s average and on-base prowess resemble Trout’s numbers, but the main difference is in the power category. He had a great .484 slugging percentage during 2020, but Trout overshadows that at .603. Trout also hits well against both sides; Nimmo hit .191 against left-handed pitching last season.
Assuming there is a universal DH and Nimmo moves to left field, he could see himself higher on the left fielder rankings.
Trout and Nimmo are both below-average defenders. Nimmo had less defensive runs saved (-5 compared to -9) but had a worse UZR (-4.1 to -3.1). Trout also had 0 outs above average while Nimmo was at -4. Trout’s speed is what allows him to keep his defense from falling to Nimmo’s level.
Nimmo’s average sprint speed and below-average reactions, bursts, and routes show he is better off in left field. Trout still has elite speed and takes the best routes to the ball out of all center fielders. It allows him to negate his reactions off the bat, which are the lowest in his position.
What’s The Lesson?
Nimmo is on the brink of becoming a star player, but it will not happen in center field. The Mets will not struggle if Nimmo ended up as the starting center fielder. It is very likely that Nimmo’s defensive numbers will slightly improve because it is tough for him to be worse than he was last season. No matter the outfield position, spring camp will benefit him.
When analyzing MLB Networks Top 10 right now, Nimmo is slotted perfectly. He is better than the five names below him and not as good at the four above him. There could even be a case for Nimmo and Alex Verdugo switching spots at four and five. Either way, the Mets have a valuable player in Nimmo, and he will blossom more once he moves to the left field.