Brandon Nimmo L/R Splits in 2014 | Astromets Mind

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Brandon Nimmo L/R Splits in 2014

Taking a closer look at how the Mets top OF prospect fared in 2014 against lefties and righties during his two stops in the Mets farm system.

            Brandon Nimmo had a very strong season across two levels in 2014, dominating the Florida State League (A+) in the first half of the summer and keeping his head above water in the Eastern League (AA) in the second half. He showed strong defense in the OF, spending most of his time in CF during the regular season – he played all 56 games in the field at CF for St. Lucie (he DH’d 6 times) and 44 out of 65 games at CF for Binghamton, with the other 21 coming at LF – before starting 7 out of 8 games in LF during the playoffs, while the hot bat of Darrell Ceciliani played CF. And Nimmo was a plus on the base paths, stealing 14 bases in 17 attempts (82.4%) between A+ and AA. He was so good that Mets GM Sandy Alderson said
“…He has probably done enough to warrant a AAA assignment coming out of spring training.”

As with any prospect, whether or not Nimmo shows platoon splits is an important factor in determining his overall future value, so I wanted to take a quick look at how the top prospect did against lefties and righties in his age-21 season in the minors.

Table 1 – Brandon Nimmo’s L/R splits for the 2014 season

A+ vs. L
A+ vs. R
AA vs. L
AA vs. R
Total* vs. L
Total* vs. R
(A+ & AA)
*Does not include playoffs

Table 2 – Brandon Nimmo’s L/R BIP splits for the 2014 season, includes playoffs

A+ vs. L
A+ vs. R
AA vs. L
AA vs. R
Total vs. L
Total vs. R
(A+ & AA)

            As you can see from Table 1, Nimmo showed more power and better strikeout and walk ratios against righties, as expected, though the splits are pretty significant. Table 2 show that much of his success against lefties with St. Lucie was BABIP driven, and that the BABIP-fairy was not nearly so kind against lefties in AA. Although the PA split for lefties is already a SSS, within the dataset is an improvement in Nimmo’s numbers against lefties near the end of the year with Binghamton. For most of his first month with the B-Mets, Nimmo only had three hits against lefties while striking out in 28.2% of his 39 plate appearances over that span - he managed only one double for a .033 ISO. Starting July 12, Nimmo finished the regular season with an 18.1 K% against lefties, as well as a .200 BABIP, .264 OBP, and a .109 ISO. Still not a good sign that he’d manage only a .200 BABIP, but the rest is enough to be a good offensive profile with a BABIP closer to average.
His batted ball profile is very similar against both lefties and righties for the season, though they changed some from A+ to AA, he just had better success with it against righties. This might suggest that Nimmo gets more hard contact against righties, and the higher homerun total against righties would seem to support that, but the difference could also be bad luck from running into better defense against lefties. It would be nice if the technology wave hitting major league parks would find it’s way into some minor league parks, with the data made available online of course. Without better technology, those GB/FB/LD/PU rates are all a little suspect, and there is no data on how much hard/soft contact is being made in the minors. Still, the spray chart locations offered during minor league gameday coverage tend to be pretty accurate, and has a nice tool to look at L/R splits over certain date ranges.

Figure 1 – Brandon Nimmo’s 2014 spray charts vs. lefties for St. Lucie (left) and Binghamton (right)

            Nimmo had a great approach against lefties with St. Lucie, hitting 46.6% of balls in play to either left or center field – or, another way to look at it, 50% to either CF, SS or 2B, aka, back up the middle. He drove some balls in the FSL, but most of his success appears to be on singles dropping into the OF. He hit a higher percentage of balls to CF with Bingo, and it looks like he was driving the ball deeper to CF, but his rate of balls to LF and RF dropped after the promo – rate of balls to LF dropped by 14 percentage points. Most of those balls that were reaching the OF against lefties with St. Lucie were finding the second baseman and shortstop with Binghamton. He still appeared to have a good approach, as he hit 62.3% of his balls in play back up the middle (CF, SS or 2B), but the spray charts indicate why the BABIP results were so stark. In a pregame interview with B-Mets radio announcer Tim Heiman earlier this season, Nimmo mentioned late-inning lefty specialists as one of the biggest adjustments he had to make going from A+ to AA, and I think that was a good point that often goes overlooked. As a hitting prospect moves up the ranks, not only does the starting pitching get better, the bullpens get much better. Overall, his season against lefties was fine – a .350 OBP with a .300 BABIP is good, especially for his weaker side, but he was light on power. His OBP should stay respectable against lefties, but unless he hits for more power in the future, his value will be somewhat reliant on the BABIP fairy.

Figure 2 – Brandon Nimmo’s 2014 spray charts vs. righties for St. Lucie (left) and Binghamton (right)

            Again, Nimmo’s approach was to go back up the middle and the other way. He had a similar trade-off against right-handers after his move to Binghamton, as ~10% of his balls in play that had gone into CF with St. Lucie, ended up going to the second baseman with Binghamton. He also used the line a little more with Binghamton, but the major trade-off was on balls in play from CF-to-2B. It’s interesting that all four of his homeruns with St. Lucie were pulled to RF, and then four out of five homeruns with Bingo were to left and left-center field. He rarely got the ball into RF with St. Lucie, but he was obviously able to turn on a few pitches, which didn’t happen as often with Bingo.
Looking forward, he should be able to continue to hit for a high average against righties, as he can always fall back on his strong opposite field approach, and he has his strikeouts under control. OBP is always going to be one of Nimmo’s strengths, as he’s managed very advanced walk rates at every level. His ISO against righties improved after the promotion, and is already above average at .202 with AA, but had room to be better. Most of his extra base hits in AA went to left and center field, so he has room to improve pull side, which is generally the better power side for hitters. Overall, it looks like he will be a productive hitter against righties, with a chance to be special, depending on how much power he shows. Power doesn’t develop in a predictable manner, so there is no guarantee if/when he takes a step forward in that department, but he’s already good in AA, and still just 21.

Figure 3 – Brandon Nimmo’s combined 2014 heat map

            Figure 3 shows Nimmo’s combined heat map for the year, and it’s a little hard to believe he’s a lefty without a big hot zone in RF. He still did some serious damage to RF, as six of his ten homeruns went to RF, but most of his balls in play to the right side ended up at in the glove of the second baseman. When he reaches AAA next year, the spray chart and ball in play information will be more verifiable, thanks to constant coverage – I hope to keep making gifs too. Playing with Las Vegas and in the PCL tends to boost offensive stats and power numbers, so it’s helpful to see how a player is succeeding there.
            As I close, I just want to point out again that Nimmo was only 21 this season and he had success at AA, so he’s well ahead of the curve – 3.7 years younger than the average EL player in 2014 per Baseball-Reference, and one of 23 players to play in EL this year and finish the season at age 20 or 21. He still has time to iron out some of the wrinkles left in his game (facing lefties, using RF more), and he’s already showing considerable upside, so it's easy to see why he's rated so high in the Mets farm system. Homerun power is not a big part of his game, yet, but he should not need a high homerun total to provide above average offense in the majors in the near future – I’ve seen some compare his offensive profile to the Marlins Christian Yelich, which would be a nice turnout, though let's not get ahead of ourselves. I won’t question the listing of 6-3 for Nimmo, as that’s listed in many places, but he does look bigger than the 205-208 pounds listed on several stat sites, and I think he has more future homerun potential than he is generally given credit for, with the 20-25 HR plateau within reach. Nimmo is the first to tell you he’s the strongest he’s been in his life, and this quote from Alderson explains his power progression this year quite nicely:
“Did you see his batting practice today?” Alderson asked. “There was a lot more man there than there was a year and a half ago. He’s continued to be a very good player across the board. I think the two things I take away from his season: No. 1, he’s continued to exercise great judgment at the plate. But I think the last half of the season he’s also demonstrated a lot more power and turned on the ball more consistently. So he’s continued to do well what he’s done in the past and he’s starting to develop the kind of power that we like to see in an outfielder.”-Adam Rubin, ESPN/MetsBlog
            Below I’ve included some links to Nimmo gifs from his time with Binghamton this year, the other links are to the Astromets Mind blog coverage of the game that will have the gif as well.

- CF angle of Nimmo being robbed of a hit on a liner towards the LF corner – 6/26, off L/Joely Rodriguez

- CF andgle of a double to the left-center field gap – 6/26, off R/Emmanuel De Leon

- CF angle of a HR to left-center field – 7/14, off R/Bryan Augenstein

- Rear angle of 2R-HR – 7/21, off R/Mike McCarthy

- Rear angle of double off wall in left-center field – 7/24, off L/Cesar Cabral

- Rear angle of double ripped off the first baseman’s glove – 7/24, off R/Luis Severino

- Rear angle of single chopped through the right side – 7/25, off L/Daniel Camarena

- CF angle of RBI triple to right-center field warning track – 8/10, off R/James Simmons

- CF angle of single lined into shallow RF – 8/10, off R/Neil Holland (side armer)

- CF angle of HR down the RF line – 8/15, off L/AustinWright

- Side angle of single – 8/16, off R/Seth Rosin

- Long run for a catch – 8/17

- CF angle of 2B down 3B line – 8/19, off R/Wilsen Palacios

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