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Mets: Brandon Nimmo wins the leadoff hitter battle with Amed Rosario

PHILADELPHIA, PA - AUGUST 16: Brandon Nimmo #9 of the New York Mets in action against the Philadelphia Phillies during an MLB baseball game at Citizens Bank Park on August 16, 2020 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images)
PHILADELPHIA, PA - AUGUST 16: Brandon Nimmo #9 of the New York Mets in action against the Philadelphia Phillies during an MLB baseball game at Citizens Bank Park on August 16, 2020 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images)
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Through his amazing ability to get on base, Brandon Nimmo has defeated Amed Rosario in the battle to become the regular leadoff hitter on the New York Mets.

Two players who have seen their name at the top of Luis Rojas’ lineup cards often in 2020 are Brandon Nimmo and Amed Rosario. Lately, Nimmo has been the prime choice and the one getting first at-bats for the New York Mets each day.

The two men entered the season in a battle for the bulk of the leadoff hacks. Nimmo has left the winner.

How has it happened? Despite some obvious shortcomings from both players, Nimmo has found a way to make up for his weaknesses while Rosario’s seem to have grown.

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Nimmo continues to find ways to get on base this season. A large portion of the time it’s via the walk. He is still working the count, seeing ball four, and running down to first base as much as anyone in the league. Through 26 games, he has 22 walks and a fat .430 OBP.

Meanwhile, Rosario isn’t walking at all. Quite literally, in fact.

The Mets’ shortstop has yet to draw ball four in any of his 80 plate appearances so far this season. His .213 OBP is lower than everyone other than Wilson Ramos’ batting average at .211.

For the longest time, the ideal leadoff hitter was a guy who could get on base and steal a bag. Rickey Henderson is what I think of when I envision the perfect leadoff hitter. And no, I don’t picture him in the home clubhouse at Shea Stadium playing cards with Bobby Bonilla during a game.

Unfortunately, very few players are built like Henderson. The Mets experimented with what they have, two very different kinds of leadoff hitters. There’s Nimmo, the OBP guy, and Rosario, the one with some flashier speed.

Nimmo and Rosario both have wheels to a degree. We can expect Rosario to steal more bags but Nimmo isn’t racing around like the bases like he’s Bengie Molina. He’s speedy enough to justify a spot atop the lineup.

Rosario is different. He’s all about his batting average. Last year he hit .287 yet his .323 OBP hardly compared to the .375 posted by Nimmo. The difference is Nimmo hit just .221.

This theme has continued into 2020 with Nimmo only recently raising his batting average above .250. It’s not superb, but paired with a dominant OBP, we can excuse a few extra outs from his bat.

It is becoming more obvious that this is how these two play the game. There’s time to develop further, with Rosario especially, but I wouldn’t count on a major difference from either. Their approach to each at-bat is much different. Nimmo is looking for his walks. Rosario aims to make use of his bat.

Neither is the perfect leadoff hitter. Those are hard to find.

For a peek behind the curtain, I originally intended to write a comparison between the two about a week and a half ago. In that short period of time, Nimmo began performing a whole lot better while Rosario battled through an illness and struggled at the plate.

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The Mets have been a lot more committed to sticking with Nimmo in the one-spot regardless of the pitcher on the mound. It’s probably for the best. He has proven that no matter how his bat performs there’s still a great chance he’ll clog up the bases.

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