Competition is a good thing, but Ty Kelly and Roger Bernadina do not represent progress like Brandon Nimmo and Travis Taijeron do for the Mets.
With Juan Lagares becoming the latest casualty placed on the disabled list, and the Mets already in dire need of an offensive infusion to begin with, the names of triple-A outfield prospects Brandon Nimmo and Travis Taijeron have been increasingly included in the great conversation discussing candidates potentially capable of addressing these very issues.
Their respective considerations are not without merit. Both are in the midst of fine seasons with the Las Vegas 51s.
First, a review of their double-A performances show each exceeded 500 at-bats during their respective careers at Binghamton. And while relatively even in batting and OBP, Travis Taijeron held a clear edge in slugging.
In 133 overall games and 509 trips to the plate, Nimmo slashed .259/.347/.381 with 24 doubles, seven triples, eight home runs and 42 RBI. Taijeron, meanwhile, slashed .247/.343/.488 with 48 doubles, 29 home runs, and 106 RBI, though 166 total games and 562 overall at-bats.
This season, Brandon was slashing .333/.412/.530 through Friday, which ranked him tenth in the Pacific Coast League in batting, seventh in OBP, and 14th overall in slugging, to go along with 16 doubles, five home runs, and 32 RBI through 56 games played.
Nimmo’s .530 slugging average, however, jumps out at me like a cologne vendor at a shopping mall. Previous to hitting in the Pacific Coast League, Nimmo posted the following combined slugging averages:
- 2011) GCL Mets; Kingsport – .368
- 2012) Brooklyn – .406
- 2013) Savannah – .359
- 2014) PSL; Binghamton- .426
He began the 2015 season with Binghamton where he slugged .368 in 68 games, then finished out he season with Las Vegas where he slugged .418 in 32 games – which is to say, he never touched .500 prior to this year.
He’s 23 years old now, and weighs in at 6’3″ and 205 pounds. It can be argued Brandon is following a natural progression, physically filling out, and finally coming into his own as a maturing athlete.
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Fair enough …
Now allow me to play the role of contrarian, because if we fans choose to factor in Pacific Coast League climate and conditions with regards to skewing pitching statistics, then we must equally factor them when deciphering hitting as well.
Despite a rather prolific offense, the Las Vegas 51s are teetering around .500 this season because they own a Pacific Coast League worst 5.42 team ERA. The Nashville Sounds sport a league best 3.33 team ERA.
Compare Nashville’s mark to that of other various league leading team ERA’s:
- (A) Charleston River Dogs lead the South Atlantic League with a 2.87 team ERA.
- (A+) Charlotte Stone Crabs lead the Florida State League with a 2.72 team ERA.
- (AA) Hartford Yard Goats lead the Eastern League with a 2.97 ERA; Pensacola Blue Wahoos lead the Southern League with a 3.11 team ERA; Tulsa Drillers lead the Texas League with a 2.91 team ERA.
- (AAA) Indianapolis Indians lead the International League with a 3.14 team ERA. And I’ll take this a step further … led by Laguna’s 3.17 team ERA, even the Mexican League, recognized as a triple-A circuit, is on relative par with the International League.
Mexico withstanding, this sample’s league leading mean is a 2.95 team ERA. The PCL’s Nashville Sounds team ERA is 0.38 above that.
The PCL aside, Nimmo has consistently demonstrated throughout his minor league journey, an ability to get on base, line doubles into the gap, and drive in a few runs from both the top and bottom of the batting order.
Unlike Brandon Nimmo who was drafted out of high school, Travis Taijeron was selected out of college in the 18th round of the 2011 draft. Now 27 years old, Travis is 64 games into his second full season with the Las Vegas 51s, where he was slashing .311/.391/.588 through Friday, which ranked him 20th in the PCL in batting, 14th in OBP, and sixth in slugging. Taijeron additionally led the league with 27 doubles, tied for sixth with 11 home runs, and tied for second with 56 RBI at last check.
The same aforementioned Pacific Coast League conditions that apply to Nimmo, indeed apply to Taijeron as well. But, unlike Nimmo, Travis Taijeron’s 2016 season rings more true with me.
Now in his sixth minor league season, he is a career .272 hitter, and a .521 career slugger through 1,964 at-bats, with a .372 OBP (exactly 100 points higher than his batting).
Does he strike out a lot? You bet.
Primarily a right fielder, Travis has limited experience in center, and is somewhat up to date in left, and owns a combined .979 career outfield fielding average. A center fielder by trade, Brandon Nimmo owns a career .984 fielding average, and is otherwise perfect in 62 other career games split between the corner positions.
If you’re the Mets general manager, and looking for an infusion of slugging/power, then Travis Taijeron is your guy. He can play left, but if daring enough, Terry Collins can shift Curtis Granderson to left, and thereby field a stronger throwing arm in right (see Saturday’s Mets game against the Braves)!
But if you want help at the top or bottom of the batting order from someone who knows how to get on base at a career (minor) .385 clip, and want someone who’ll make defensive substitutions easier on Terry Collins, then Nimmo is perhaps the way to go.
I mean Ty Kelly or Roger Bernadina no disrespect. Roger is an MLB veteran, and Kelly even boasts his own career .383 minor league OBP. Competition is a good thing, and if Kelly and Bernadina are part of that, fine. Otherwise, I’m just not interested in either. Neither of them represent progress to me.
I first watched Taijeron play for the Brooklyn Cyclones in 2011, then watched Nimmo in 2012, so I admit I’m a fan of both. But as a general manager, there’s no such thing as sitting on the fence. At this point, the Mets situation requires making different decisions, which invariably means making the right decisions.
If I had my druther, Kelly would be out, Bernadina wouldn’t even be a consideration, and Travis Taijeron would make his big league debut ahead of Brandon Nimmo … and damned starting either one of their MLB clocks.
That’s baseball when you’re in the business of winning.
What say you?