Alright folks, I’ve been pretty consistent with when I post new things (typically every Thursday) but I’ve been busy with school and…engulfed in Fortnite. So I really haven’t given myself much time to focus on getting new material out. But, it’s a Sunday, I have the day off and I’m ready to tackle this post. So, what’re we going to discuss today? Well, a number of things honestly. I want to take a look at Brandon Nimmo and see if he has a case to be the starting Center Fielder come Opening Day, if Kevin Plawecki should get more playing time this season, and just take a look at who I’ve been impressed (and concerned) with the most during Spring Training. So, this is going to be a long one but I’ve got to make up for lost time. So without further ado, let’s jump into this bad boy.
Brandon Nimmo: Starting Center Fielder?
Let me start by saying that Brandon Nimmo is one of my favorite young Mets. He’s got so much heart and you can tell he’s just genuinely happy to be part of the team and I think that’s the case for a lot of Mets’ fans. But not only does he have the admiration of the fans, he’s got the attention of Mets’ General Manager Sandy Alderson who wasn’t willing to trade Nimmo to the Pirates during New York’s hunt for a second baseman. And that was a smart move by Sandy because Brandon Nimmo in my opinion has one of the brightest futures amongst the young Mets.
Nimmo spent 2 seasons in the Majors for a period of time (some longer than others), both coming in 2016 and 2017. His 2016 stint was shorter than the 2017 one, but he still impressed during his time there. In 32 games he had a .274 Batting Average and while he was only able to hit one home run, it was a big one. A towering three-run home run off of the Cubs’ Jason Hammel earned young Nimmo a curtain call from the Mets fans. And while the 442ft home run was the reason for the curtain call, he also had 5 base hits in his first 6 games in the Major Leagues. With one of the biggest smiles I’ve ever seen in a baseball game, Nimmo earned himself the love and admiration of the fans. Nimmo was sent back to AAA in July, but then recalled after Lagares suffered an injury. Nimmo floated around between AAA and MLB for the remainder of the season until September when the Triple-A call ups started happening.
In 2017, Nimmo participated in the World Baseball Classic, representing Team Italy. Sadly, Nimmo suffered a strained hamstring which caused him to miss the opportunity of making the Mets’ Opening Day roster. But Nimmo would make sure that was noticed when the opportunity arose. On June 16th, injuries to Matt Harvey and Juan Lagares got Nimmo recalled from Triple-A once again but was put on the DL with a partially collapsed lung on July 8th. Thankfully the injury wasn’t anything too serious and he was able to return 20 days later. He would remain in the majors for the remainder of the season finishing with a .260 batting average and a .379 On Base Percentage. He hit 5 home runs, had 21 RBIs and drew 33 walks over 69 games played. Nimmo’s plate discipline was amazing, it seemed like he was drawing walks left and right. And, every time he would draw a walk he’d run to first base faster than anyone I’ve ever seen (with a giant smile on his face.) There is always room for improvement and Nimmo has shown improvement already in Spring Training thus far. He’s been seeing the ball well and with 15 at bats has a .400 AVG.
Juan Lagares is no slouch, Lagares is a former Golden Glover and you could argue that defensively, he is one of the best outfielders in the National League. But the problem with Lagares is, he isn’t a great hitter. He CAN hit, and he can get on a hot streak but he’s definitely more of a defensive player than he is an offensive player. Lagares has a lifetime Batting Average a little under .260, 20 home runs, 146 RBIs and 37 Stolen Bases. The numbers of games played by Lagares has gone down drastically since the arrival of Yoenis Cespedes and its decreased more with the arrival of Jay Bruce and a newly driven Michael Conforto. But with Conforto injured and probably not available to make a Major League start until early May, this could be the time for Juan to shine. But his opposition is the man we just talked about, Brandon Nimmo. Lagares has been battling through injuries since 2016 when he sprained his thumb. The injury to the thumb ended up costing him almost 2 months of playing time and he batted .239 with a .301 on base percentage. 2017 was much of the same for Juan, he once again battled through injuries and only had 252 at bats. He had a .250 average and a .296 on base percentage. Lagares is still young enough to have a bounce back season, he’ll be 29 by the time opening day rolls around. But injury has kept Juan from getting a lot of playing time in Spring thus far. While the injury was minor, a “tight” left leg kept him out of action until this past Friday (March 2nd) where he went hitless in 1 at bat. The next day he had 1 hit in 2 appearances. There is still plenty of time for Lagares to prove that he deserves to be on the field for Opening Day, he will likely have to play catch up to Nimmo.
But to the original question, does Nimmo have a strong enough case to be the Opening Day center fielder? I think, yes he absolutely has a strong enough case. Nimmo has so much room for improvement and he’s likely to improve a ton this spring. The sky is really the limit for Nimmo who has potential to be a leadoff hitter for the Mets. You always want your leadoff guy to get on base and Nimmo is the guy to do so. Lagares is a veteran for the Mets and had a great 2014 and 2015 but has had trouble finding his footing since then. If Lagares can get back to where he was a few seasons ago, he could very well take that spot as Opening Day Center Fielder. But as of this writing, I think Brandon Nimmo is the right person to play center field on Opening Day and potentially even lead off the line up.
Does Kevin Plawecki deserve more playing time?
From one young guy battling for playing time to another. Kevin Plawecki has been floating between Triple-A and the MLB for a few years now and hasn’t really been impressive until his last call up in 2017. Plawecki was less than impressive in 2015 and 2016, hitting with a batting average of only .211, 4 Home runs and 77 hits over 121 games. But 2017 seemed to bring us a different Plawecki. In 37 games, Plawecki had 26 hits, 3 home runs, a .260 Batting Average and .364 On Base Percentage. And so far in Spring Training, Kevin Plawecki seems to be carrying that over with him. With 10 at bats he’s got a .400 Batting Average and seems to be seeing the ball well. While these statistics are all circumstantial since it is Spring Training, it’s still worth taking note that he’s definitely a different player than he was in seasons prior.
Travis d’Arnaud is a guy who still has a ton of potential but he has yet to really set the world on fire. He’s teased fans with what he can do a few times but he hasn’t been able to fully run with it. Making his debut for the Mets in 2013, Travis has a lifetime Batting Average of .245, 46 home runs and 159 RBIs. His best season was 2015 when he had a .268 average and 12 home runs, although his 2017 season did see him hit 16 home runs and get a .244 Batting Average. Travis has also had 10 at bats this spring training and has a .200 average.
I don’t know if Plawecki is ready to be the Mets permanent catcher, but he deserves more chances at (and behind) the plate for sure. Neither him or Travis are exactly the best defensive catchers which halts both of them from being elite catchers. But, much like Nimmo these guys still have a lot of room to grow and improve and with Mike Piazza visiting the team earlier in the week, hopefully he could pass some of his knowledge on to the young catchers. But, to answer the question: Plawecki deserves more playing time. It’s already been said that they’re expected to split playing time, but if Plawecki can get hot, I see no reason why he can’t take over as a primary catcher (…or relief pitcher.)
Spring Training Week 1: Who’s Impressive?
Noah Syndergaard: It’s hard not to be impressed with Noah Syndergaard. Especially when he comes out throwing nothing but absolute HEAT. Using only 22 pitches to get through two innings, he struck out two guys and didn’t allow a hit. He even incorporated a changeup that struck out AL MVP Jose Altuve who later said if Syndergaard threw him that pitch 100 times, he’d strike out 100 times. But it’s not just the heat that’s impressive about Syndergaard because on his second start he slowed things down a bit, only hitting the 100 mph mark twice, as opposed to 11 times in the first outing. He threw 3 innings against the Marlins with the only blemishes being a walk, a hit and a run. But he struck out 4 in the process and looked great doing it. Looking for a comeback season after going down with an unceremonious injury in 2017, Syndergaard looks to be in peak physical form and while he threw VERY hard during his first outing, he said he didn’t feel like he was exerting much energy and he seems to have things under control. With deGrom still not making a start yet, Syndergaard may be on his way to pitching Opening Day for the 2nd year in a row.
Gavin Cecchini: Gavin was at point the Mets top prospect but he never seemed to bring what he was doing in the minor leagues to the majors. But it seems as if he’s found new life during the off season. Debuting a new beard, Cecchini has been doing fantastic in Spring Training thus far and is making a case as to why he should still be considered one of the Mets’ top prospects. With 11 at bats under his belt, he’s hitting .455 with 2 home runs and 5 RBIs. Gavin looks stronger and has shown that he can play second base as well as shortstop. If Amed Rosario’s knee injury is a serious thing, Cecchini MIGHT be able to steal himself a spot on the Opening Day roster (highly unlikely unless the injury is very serious.) If Cecchini keeps this up, I might have to change the name of the website to Gavin’s beard.
Seth Lugo: Lugomania is going to be running wild. I told you it would be and it will be. Okay, maybe not just yet. But Lugo has looked great in his 2 starts thus far. While he’s sporting a 0-1 record currently (so is Syndergaard) he’s got a 1.80 ERA over 5 innings with 4 strikeouts. Fighting to get a spot in the rotation, Lugo is making a case for himself and even if he doesn’t grab a spot in the rotation, he could very well take a relief job away from someone else. But time will tell. But nonetheless, LUGOMANIA will be running wild.
Gerson Bautista: Okay, I genuinely had no idea who this kid was until I saw him pitch relief just recently. But he is something to be seen. He’s only 22 years old and he’s been throwing some serious heat in his relief outings. Last season while in Single-A ball he threw 33 pitches that were over 100 mph. Bautista came over from the Red Sox when the Addison Reed trade occurred. With Boston he struggled in their High-A Salem league. But he’s throw 4 and 2/3 innings with 6 strikeouts and 1.93 ERA. I’m intrigued to see what happens with him. He will likely be promoted from Single-A to at LEAST Double-A. But if the bullpen needs reinforcement and someone isn’t performing or gets injured, he could be a name that Callaway calls on.
Brandon Nimmo: I’m not going to explain why I’m impressed with Nimmo because I think I covered most of that above. So in the meantime, here’s a gif of him smiling.
There’s a ton of other guys I’m impressed with, but these were the 5 names that came to mind right away. Of course I think Harvey, Wheeler, Gsellman and Montero all looked sharp as well. And guys like Cespdes and Bruce have been doing well also. While the Mets have a losing record, it’s Spring Training and as long as individually everyone is doing what they should be doing, the Mets will be in good shape heading into the regular season.
And with that, I’m done. I did it. After nothing but procrastination and fortnite, I finished an article. Next week I won’t be so lazy and I’ll hopefully have a post-up on Thursday. What would you like to see me discuss next? As always, send me an email, tweet at me, comment below, send me a fax, use smoke signals, whatever your preferred form of communication is.