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Brandon Nimmo is just the player the Dodgers should be pursuing

A moot point now, with Nimmo returning to New York

MLB: New York Mets at Atlanta Braves Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Brandon Nimmo is the most underrated player in all of baseball and would be a perfect fit for the Los Angeles Dodgers. That phrase is hyperbolic, and both of those arguments have been overused to the point of losing meaning, about players in general being underrated and perfect fits, but both points still stand.

Nimmo is in fact an underrated player, and his fit with the Dodgers is a very good one for a variety of factors, and without any further ado let’s get into the why of these two statements.

[EDITOR’S NOTE: Hours after this post was published, Nimmo decided to return to the Mets on a reported eight-year, $162-million contract]

What makes Brandon Nimmo underrated?

Nimmo finished the 2022 season with a 5.4 fWAR. The lefty-hitting center fielder finished in the 90th percentile in Outs Above Average (+6) and had an impressive 134 wRC+.

At first glance, Nimmo may not get enough attention because he doesn’t hit for a lot of power (.159 ISO in 2022, .173 career), and he’s had issues in staying healthy, as this was only his second season with over 400 plate appearances.

You can look at Nimmo’s 134 wRC+, and argue that any player can have one very good year, but it doesn’t mean the team should commit long-term, but here’s the thing: that’s Nimmo’s career wRC+ as well. He’s always been this good of a hitter, just usually hasn’t been able to stay healthy enough to showcase it over a full year.

In fact, Nimmo’s OBP (.367) and SLG (.433) in 2022 were the lowest and second lowest since 2017, his second year in the big leagues.

Contextualizing Nimmo’s career 134 wRC+, that’s the same mark that Ronald Acuña and George Springer have. Now, it goes without saying that:

  • Nimmo is not as good of a hitter as those two
  • Nimmo won’t be as good of a hitter as those two over the next five years or so
  • Nimmo arrived at this production as a different kind of hitter, relying heavily on his ability to get on base without a ton of power
  • But nevertheless, it’s telling that his production has been this good, over a pretty significant sample size (2,368 PA), and also a big part of that is his ability to hit left-handed pitching, with a 124 wRC+ against same-handed pitchers

What makes Nimmo a perfect fit for the Dodgers?

It’s no secret that this organization wants to or at the very least is openly exploring the possibility of adding an everyday center fielder. Cody Bellinger is now a Cub, and regardless of what he produced or didn’t produce last season, he was still the team’s primary center fielder, and a replacement is needed.

Trayce Thompson did a remarkable job in a small sample size and certainly earned a role with this team in 2023, but it’s doubtful that the front office is ready to just hand him the reins for the CF role, with little to no backup option, in case he regresses.

One way or another, it’s almost a certainty that the team will add someone with the ability to play center, but there are levels to this, and in case we want to explore the deep end of the pool, there is no better option than Nimmo.

One could argue the team already has plenty of left-handed bats, but as we saw above, Nimmo can do more than hold his own against southpaws, making this almost a moot point.

Trea Turner’s gone and, most likely, Lux will replace him at shortstop. Adding Nimmo as a top-of-the-order bat would go a long way in taking some of the pressure away from Lux in the lineup.

Nimmo is also a plus defender, and here is the big factor that makes him an enticing target for the Dodgers, specifically:

As a soon-to-be thirty years old player, the ceiling for Nimmo in terms of contract years is probably five years, that’s what he is expected to get. The Dodgers are one of a few teams which can cough up that fifth year or, better yet, use the club’s financial advantage to offer him a larger average annual value on a three or four-year deal.

This front office has been notorious for using that strategy, and Nimmo’s injury history leaves the door open for the Dodgers to swoop in and take advantage of that.

This is a somewhat similar situation to the signing of AJ Pollock a few years back, but with a few differences that Nimmo is a much better overall player at each one’s particular stage of hitting the market.

In short, Nimmo is a perfect fit.