If there’s one thing Brandon Nimmo proved in 2018 it’s that the New York Mets will need him again in 2019.
After the New York Mets drafted Brandon Nimmo 13th overall in the 2011 draft, critics were quick to point out the risk involved. For one thing, Nimmo lived in Wyoming, where there are no high school baseball teams. This means his only exposure to big league scouts came playing on his local American Legion team, Post 6.
Taking a less than phenomenal high schooler that early in the draft almost always indicates a long road ahead regardless of background. Nimmo, in particular, would ultimately be tasked with silencing pundits and proving that a ballplayer from Wyoming could compete at the highest level.
Nimmo’s MLB debut came in 2016 at the age of 23. Through 32 games (15 starts), Nimmo put together a .274/.338/.329 batting line. Don’t be confused by the relatively high batting average, this was a disappointing debut.
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Managing a slugging percentage of .329 is child’s play and nowhere near worthy of a starting job. His OPS was a measly .666.
To put that in perspective, Madison Bumgarner’s OPS was .743 that season. Granted, both are small sample sizes. However, Nimmo was beginning to look like an instant bust.
The good news: Nimmo was actually a sensation waiting to happen. His 2017 numbers showed drastic signs of improvement. His batting line was .260/.379/.418 through 69 games (43 starts) in 2017. His ability to hit for extra bases greatly improved as evidenced by a higher slugging percentage.
But, his sudden ability to get on base is what really drew attention from Mets brass. Not that batting average isn’t important, but it’s an outdated stat compared to on-base percentage.
Nimmo walked 33 times in 2017 and got on base at a .379 clip. To compare, Yoenis Cespedes has never reached an on-base percentage that high in his entire career. But, again, Nimmo’s number is represented by a small sample size of games.
Little did the Mets know, Nimmo was about to reach a milestone in 2018. He had a breakout season in 2018. He played in 140 games (115 starts) and slashed .263/.404./.483, reaching an OPS of .886.
What really stands out is Nimmo’s elite ability to reach base. His on-base percentage was second in the National League only to OBP legend, Joey Votto.
An on-base percentage above .400 is MVP caliber. Therefore, the fact that the Mets have 4 more years of control on Nimmo and owe him less than 600K next season is an absolute gift.
Nimmo’s hitting ability is nothing to scoff at either. His 17 home runs, 28 doubles, and 8 triples show that he is capable of driving the ball and may even develop more power in the future. This will also keep pitchers from challenging him and should allow him to maintain his gaudy OBP.
Furthermore, his above average speed and unparalleled hustle are endearing tools that make him even more of a threat to opposing pitchers and fielders alike.
Not to mention, Nimmo is basically smiling 24/7. This is a welcome intangible paired with heart and hustle that the Mets have needed the last couple of seasons and will continue to need moving forward.
It would be foolish to label Nimmo a candidate for next season’s MVP award. But, it would be equally foolish to assume he is not an all-star caliber player.
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Mets fans should look forward to watching Nimmo in 2019. His top-tier offensive ability coupled with having one of the best smiles in baseball are enough to be optimistic about for now.