Statement: Brandon Nimmo is the best value in fantasy baseball and a solid dark horse for 2020 NL MVP.
On the surface, that may seem like an outrageous claim for the happiest man in baseball and may be excused by an “anything can happen in a shortened 60-game season” mindset.
For the avoidance of doubt, Nimmo slashed .221/.375/.407/.783 in 254 plate appearances (PAs) in 2019 – which are less-than-impressive stats more characteristic of a team’s fourth outfielder, not a sleeper 2020 MVP candidate.
However, the numbers do not tell the whole story.
A deeper dive into Nimmo’s 2018 and 2019 seasons will reveal that he is arguably the most underrated player in the game.
In the 2018 season, Brandon slashed .263/.404/.483/.886 over 535 PAs, which was comparable to Bryce Harper’s .249/.393/.496/.889 in 695 PAs. Let that sink in.
His Adjusted OPS+ of 148 was second best in the National League (Baseball Reference), as was his .404 OBP – trailing only Christian Yelich and Joey Votto, respectively. He also ranked 7th in the NL with an oWAR of 5.0 (Baseball Reference).
His 2018 season begs the question: Why the awful, abridged 2019 campaign?
Answer: On April 14, 2019, Nimmo ran into an outfield wall in Atlanta but continued to play until May 20th, at which time he was diagnosed with whiplash. In his 79 ABs after the wall collision game until he went on the IL, Brandon batted .177. When he returned healthy in September, he regained his 2018 form, slashing .261/.430/.565/.995 in 93 PAs.
With his whiplash in the past, in an abbreviated 2020 campaign, the Mets presumptive center fielder could project to a .430 OBP, 10 home runs, four triples, 15 doubles, and 35 runs – putting him in the conversation for MVP.
The largest mitigating factor in a potential breakout season for Nimmo may be Mets management, who at times, seems content to bat the OBP savant down in the order to get Pete Alonso and Jeff McNeil more PAs. If Mets’ brass can see that placing Nimmo at the top of the order will give Alonso and McNeil more PAs with runners on base where they can inflict more damage, Nimmo will score plenty of runs and could lead his team to a playoff appearance. Either way, don’t be deceived by a misleading 2019 campaign.
Brandon Nimmo has one of the best eyes in baseball and is one of the more talented batters in the NL. He will likely be on any sports book at +10000 or longer odds for MVP – certainly worthy of consideration for a small wager.
-- Hot Rodz
Headline Photo Credit: Getty Images