Kevin Pillar’s reputation as a defensive whiz in center field contributed strongly to the Mets’ decision to sign the free-agent this offseason, but the metrics tell another story.
A plus defender in center as recently as 2018, according to Statcast — which measures outs above average — the 32-year-old Pillar regressed the past two seasons to the point at which he might be better suited for one of the corner outfield spots at this juncture of his career.
“If someone could sit me in a room and tell me how I could improve on X, Y and Z when it comes to the numbers, I would like to know,” Pillar said Saturday after a team workout in Port St. Lucie, Fla.
“I do feel like I still can play at a high level in center field. I feel like being in this league for a long time, one of my greatest strengths is experience and understanding swings and how pitchers want to get guys out.”
As it stands, Brandon Nimmo will likely play most of the time in center field, with Dominic Smith in left, but that dynamic could also change if the universal designated hitter is implemented. With the DH in the National League, Nimmo could move to left, leaving Pillar…