Kevin Pillar is one option for the New York Mets this winter in their quest to improve center field. What could he bring to the table?
George Springer is by far the best center fielder hitting free agency this winter. He should be one of the priorities for the New York Mets in their search to improve the club at the position.
However, with no guarantee of signing him, it’s important we look at some of the other outfielders available. One of the few center fielders worth considering is Kevin Pillar.
Pillar is best known for some spectacular defensive seasons he had with the Toronto Blue Jays. Although he never did win a Gold Glove, he was often a finalist. We can blame Kevin Kiermaier for this.
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Pillar’s career has taken him to a few different teams. He’s a lifetime .262/.299/.408 hitter which doesn’t exactly get too many people hot under the collar.
He’s coming off of a year which saw him hit .288/.336/.462. As with anything in 2020, it comes with an asterisk of playing in only 54 games split between the Boston Red Sox and Colorado Rockies.
Something Pillar has routinely done throughout his career is hit double-digit home runs and steal double-digit bases. These aren’t incredible numbers. His 21 home runs in 2019 and 25 stolen bases in 2015 are both personal-bests. Nevertheless, there’s value there.
This does tell us a little about his offensive game. Pillar can hit for a good enough average and swipe an occasional bag. In this way, he’s like Brandon Nimmo. In just about every other, he’s the complete opposite.
Nimmo has made a career of reaching base without hitting for a very high average. Pillar has done the opposite. He doesn’t have good OBP numbers at all but tends to have a batting average better than .250.
The other obvious difference is the defense. Pillar is a spectacular defender even still. Nimmo, on the other hand, struggles as a center fielder. He would fit in much better with the Mets in a corner spot. Everyone knows it. Is this the winter the club does something about it?
Pillar fits in with the 2021 Mets because he stands out. I don’t think he’d win a Gold Glove here, but he would definitely improve the defense up the middle.
Despite his shortcomings at reaching base, I still think Pillar can contribute to this lineup. He does things others on this roster cannot do. The Mets had no trouble reaching base in 2020. It’s important they supplement what they already have with some other attributes.
At this stage of his career, Pillar isn’t the type of player you even need to put in the starting lineup every day. Sure, he should start often. But we should probably also see Nimmo get occasional games in center field. This may depend largely on how the rest of the roster looks.
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Signing Pillar isn’t fancy nor will it likely turn this franchise into National League favorites. It does help resolve a problem. And that’s the whole point of the offseason. Let the players grab headlines in the regular season with their player, not the GM or owner in the winter by putting ink to paper.