A new center fielder wasn’t on the wish list for most New York Mets fans. We were perfectly content with the team seeing if Brandon Nimmo could get back to playing the level of defense he had the previous two seasons. David Stearns thought differently. A one-year deal worth $10.5 million with Harrison Bader, arguably the best center fielder in MLB defensively, moves Nimmo to left field.
The Mets now have a potential Gold Glove winner on their roster. It’s not just Bader either.
A move to left field can make Brandon Nimmo a serious Gold Glove contender
Left field isn’t abundant in the National League. It surely isn’t flush with the most gifted defensive players either. Typically a place for converted infielders to land, we’re in an era without a distinguished player in the league who is superior to all of the rest. There’s no Barry Bonds out there ready to capture the 2024 Gold Glove Award.
Since 2011, MLB has directed its Gold Gloves at an outfielder at each position and not at the three best at any. Ian Happ of the Chicago Cubs has won the NL’s Gold Glove in left field for two consecutive seasons and deservedly so. Nimmo will have to bump off a guy whose numbers and reputation should already have him in the mix before catching a single fly ball.
Playing alongside Bader will have its benefits for Nimmo as well. A little less ground to cover on a regular basis should improve his defensive game. However, it could have a negative effect on some defensive statistics. Some balls Nimmo could have otherwise gotten to as a left fielder have potential to land in Bader’s glove instead. His range might not look quite as good.
Measuring a player’s defensive worthiness of a Gold Glove differs from person to person more so than other major awards. There are players who win because they’re flashy and have to dive for more balls. There are others who are locks to take home the gold because they’ve been good in the past and voters get lazy.
The Mets haven’t had a Gold Glove winner since 2014 when Juan Lagares won one as a center fielder. A decade later, they signed a guy who could end the drought in Bader. But he’s not the one to watch. It’s Nimmo, after several years of being the primary center fielder for the Mets, to wager on.