School is out of session. It’s time to give the New York Mets outfielders of 2018 some grades on how they performed.
The New York Mets were supposed to compete in 2018 with more quality outfielders than outfield positions.
As we now know, that’s not what happened. Raise your hand if you expected to see Austin Jackson, Jose Bautista, Matt den Dekker, Kevin Kaczmarski, and Dominic Smith roaming the spacious outfield in Citi Field.
In the end, though, the outfield of the New York Mets basically met expectations on the offensive end, in spite of injuries and a revolving door of new players.
The following report card covers each player to appear in the outfield, no matter how briefly, in 2018.
The Uncertain Center
Juan Lagares CF
The nicknames: The Jaguar, Angelo
The review: Juan Lagares was expected to be the fourth outfielder, starting against most lefties and coming in for defense to protect leads. He tantalized fans with his spectacular defense, before his season-ending toe injury.
His lack of ability to hit, get on base, and stay healthy make you wonder if he has a future with the team.
The offensive stats: PA 64, .339/.375/.390/.765, wRC 8, wRC+ 112
The defensive stats: UZR/150 16.8
The grade: perpetually incomplete
The strengths: defense, speed
The weaknesses: ability to stay on the field, getting on base and producing consistently at bat
Notes: We’ll never know if he would have kept up his offensive production if he had not gotten hurt, but given his BABIP of .392 (career .317), it’s highly unlikely. Will this be the year he gets traded?
Brandon Nimmo LF, CF, RF
The nicknames: Nimms, Cheyenne Smile, Wyoming Lightning
The review: Brandon Nimmo was a revelation in 2018, with offensive production that no-one projected with the possible exception of Sandy Alderson. Nimmo is the perfect example of why batting average is no longer considered useful, with his .404 OBP and .483 SLG contributing to a tremendous .886 OPS.
His best defensive position is LF, due to a below average arm, but his offensive production allows him to contribute as well as anyone else on the team in CF or RF.
The offensive stats: PA 535, .263/.404/.483/.886, BB 80, HBP 22(!), wRC 93, wRC+ 149
The defensive stats: UZR/150 (CF 350.1 innings) -8.5 (LF 248.1 innings) 7.4 (RF 442 innings) -6.3
The grade: A (would be A+ if his play in CF was average or above)
The strengths: getting on base one way or another, surprising pop, hustles from here to Wyoming, good range in LF, biggest smile in MLB
The weaknesses: arm, overall play in CF and RF
Notes: If Céspedes and Bruce had been healthy all year, and Conforto had not missed some time early due to his shoulder injury, Nimmo would have been the 4th outfielder, and who knows what his production would have been.