In the second installment of our New York Mets final report card series, we turn our focus to the outfield.
RELATED: Starting Rotation Report Card
The 2017 New York Mets outfield came into the season with high expectations, as the group’s power was considered the backbone of the team’s lineup.
Sluggers Yoenis Cespedes, Curtis Granderson, and Jay Bruce were expected to hit home runs and play adequate defense in the field. Now as the playoffs begin, Mets fans will see both Granderson and Bruce playing for other organizations (the Los Angeles Dodgers and Cleveland Indians, respectively) as they attempt to win a World Series ring.
So let’s see how the group did before and after they were here and how they graded out this season.
Outfield Grade: B
Out of the four positional groups that will be examined in the report card series, the outfield by far performed the best. When the Mets were still attempting to win games all the way back in July, Bruce and Granderson were putting together impressive campaigns.
The pair combined for 48 home runs in 214 games played. Bruce’s level of defense also seemed to advance this season in right field, while Granderson did a valiant job patrolling all three positions as a 36-year-old whose best days were behind him.
The surprise of the group—and the reason they get such high marks—is budding superstar Michael Conforto. The Mets almost made the blunder of leaving the 24-year-old off the Opening Day roster because, well, they’re the Mets.
The jump Conforto took this season was extraordinary, especially when you consider that he appeared in just as many games in 2016 as he did in 2017.
2016: 109 G, .220 BA, .330 OBP, .414 SLG, 12 HR, 42 RBI
2017: 109 G, .279 BA, .384 OBP, .555 SLG, 27 HR, 68 RBI
Conforto’s breakout was good enough to earn him a spot on the National League All-Star team. The outfield’s future is in his hands moving forward.
Fresh off a four-year contract extension for over $100 million, Yoenis Cespedes produced a disappointing season in 2017. Whether it was his notorious offseason squatting or his questionable hustle, the product he put out on the field was not up to his contract’s billing.
It wasn’t all bad for the left fielder though, as he ripped 17 homers in 81 games while maintaining a nearly .900 OPS. The Mets will need a full season of health from Yoenis next season if they hope to compete.
Oft-injured Juan Lagares put together a typical campaign, as in he played a little more than half a season which included stellar defense and lackluster offense. In 2018 Lagares will be 28 years old which likely leaves him as the fourth or fifth outfielder.
It’s hard to be as surprising as Conforto was this year, but Brandon Nimmo definitely takes the runner-up award. Nimmo brought solid defense, energy, and plate discipline with him for his 69-game stint in the majors.
Brandon Nimmo has a .388 OBP since August 1, ranking second among all rookies behind Rhys Hoskins (.397) and 13th
in the NL.
— Michael Mayer (@mikemayerMMO) September 27, 2017
Nimmo walked in nearly half of his games played and carved out a future in some capacity in the Mets outfield.
Another surprise in the outfield was Nori Aoki. An argument can be made that the surprise was that he was on the roster in the first place, but in fairness, he performed well while he was here.
He played in 27 games hitting at a .287 clip and swiped five bags. But he’s 35 and offers no power. The Mets have younger options to take his spot in 2018, whether it be Nimmo or Travis Taijeron, who struggled after joining the team in September but has legitimate pop in his bat.
Injuries were the primary reason this group did not receive a higher grade. When you don’t have an outfielder play in 115 games, that’s a major problem. If they can all stay healthy—and out of the trainer’s room—2018 should be a very different season for the Mets.