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NY Mets: What Brandon Nimmo must do to become an everyday player

WEST PALM BEACH, FLORIDA - MARCH 10: Brandon Nimmo #9 of the New York Mets bats during the spring training game against the Houston Astros at FITTEAM Ballpark of The Palm Beaches on March 10, 2020 in West Palm Beach, Florida. (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images)
WEST PALM BEACH, FLORIDA - MARCH 10: Brandon Nimmo #9 of the New York Mets bats during the spring training game against the Houston Astros at FITTEAM Ballpark of The Palm Beaches on March 10, 2020 in West Palm Beach, Florida. (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images)
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Brandon Nimmo still has his doubters and there are a few ways the New York Mets outfielder can silence them.

The New York Mets were officially able to complete the strangest (and longest) offseason in recent memory. Looking back, it’s difficult to believe that the trade chatter surrounding a possible Brandon Nimmo for Starling Marte swap occurred since last season concluded.  It seems like a lifetime ago.

The new baseball year will involve fan-favorite Nimmo manning the center field position. This will be a key aspect of the game to watch as the Mets strive for contention during the shortened campaign.

While many New York fans seem to be assuming the 27-year-old is ready for this challenge, Nimmo must perform in order to earn his spot as an everyday player.

The Defense

While Nimmo has played 103 games in center field, his defensive metrics profile as a left fielder. The allure of a potential Marte acquisition was that the team would have added a more natural and experienced player for the critical defensive position. The former first-round pick was injured for much of the 2019 season. However, his defensive metrics in 2018 are reason for alarm. The best defensive center fielder that season was Lorenzo Cain, who posted a 10.7 defensive rating.  The rest of the top 10 record a rating of between 9.5 and 2.6. Nimmo, on the other hand, finished the season with a -1.5 rating. The year before? He was an abysmal -6.6.

Nimmo must improve this aspect of his game if he hopes to become the everyday center fielder for the Mets in 2020 and beyond. The team is loaded with players corner outfielders like Michael Conforto, Yoenis Cespedes, Dominic Smith, and J.D. Davis. There is no place for Nimmo to fall back on if he cannot man center. The team also has defensive specialist Jake Marisnick to take over if need be.

The margin for error is so low this season that the team cannot afford to waste stellar efforts by Jacob deGrom and Marcus Stroman by committing costly errors in the outfield.

The Consistency

This second area of improvement pails in comparison to the first. Defense is the clear top priority. However, Nimmo would also benefit by becoming a more consistent all-around player. His batting average has been as high as .274 in his rookie campaign to a lowly .221 in 2019. His recent injury history has also raised concerns about his availability.

While has does boast a good hitting eye and an excellent track record of getting on base, a jump inconsistency would greatly benefit his career. The Mets have spent too long with one-dimensional players like Juan Lagares in center field. The team desperately needs a player who is proficient in both defense and offense.

Conclusion

I love Nimmo’s energy and competitiveness. His on-base percentage is also a major asset. However, I was vocal about my belief of upgrading at center field during the offseason. I have believed for some time that this season is too important to gamble on a young player lining up out of position. Centerfield is far too important a position to have liabilities.

However, Nimmo is still young and developing. He also has experience playing the position and appears to be healthy for the first time in recent memory. Believers and skeptics alike will be pulling hard for Nimmo to prove himself to be a legitimate defensive option in center.

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Is this the year Nimmo silences doubters or will we go into 2021 with many still believing he’s a fourth outfielder at best?

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