Mets outfielder Brandon Nimmo may be the new master of walk-off hits
By Tim Boyle
The New York Mets can no longer rely on Wilmer Flores for walk-off hits. However, Brandon Nimmo may pick up where he left off.
During his time with the New York Mets, Wilmer Flores developed a reputation for coming up with clutch hits late in games. Specifically, it was the walk-off hit he was able to master.
Flores won’t hit any walk-offs for the Mets in 2019 as he’s now a member of the Arizona Diamondbacks. However, the team does have another guy who may be able to pick up where Flores left off.
In 2018, Flores had the second-most hits in the ninth inning or later. Only Paul Goldschmidt, who had 12 more at-bats, had more. Flores’ .442/.446/.846 batting line with 4 home runs in these late-game situations was among the best. Not too far behind, we find Brandon Nimmo.
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Nimmo finished 2018 tied for second in RBI in the ninth inning or later with 15. Only Jason Kipnis drove in more runs, but he didn’t slash nearly as well as Nimmo did. The .400/.500/.760 batting line Nimmo posted blows Kipnis away. It competes closely with everyone else in Major League Baseball. As a guy who typically bats leadoff, it’s an underrated weapon to have.
Nimmo is still building his identity as a baseball player. We know he’s a happy-go-lucky personality willing to do anything to get on base. What I think most of us missed out on was how clutch he could be when the invisible baseball clock was ticking down.
Not all of this production came in late or close situations. Plenty of times, Nimmo came up with hits late when the Mets were either leading by a lot or on the short end of a blowout. His late and close statistics are closer to his season numbers with a slash line of .273/.403/.527 in those situations.
Last year, we saw more than a prototypical leadoff hitter when Nimmo was at the plate. He showed off a power stroke and ability to drive in runs. Similar in some ways to Curtis Granderson when he played for the Mets, he’s a guy who doesn’t balk at driving in runs. If he’s up at the plate with runners on, there’s a decent chance Nimmo drives them in.
It will take a lot to dethrone Flores as the king of walk-off hits in Flushing. Mets fans would gladly settle with Nimmo settling as a Duke or Baron.
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In his role, scoring the final run of games is just as important as driving them in. Nimmo can start rallies by getting on base as much as he can driving them in. I expect we see a continued mix of both this season and beyond.