The Mets will go where Brandon Nimmo takes them
Being a New York Mets fan is an exercise in duality. No other team suspends its supporters in a constant state of both hope and terror, both belief and despair, quite like the boys from Flushing. For every incredible comeback punctuated by a cry of "Ya gotta believe," the specter of an LOLMets moment is always right around the corner.
Less than a month into the season, this is very much the case. The team enjoyed a 14-9 record following a 7-3 West Coast road trip, but despite being on a 99-win pace, the season has already felt like a rollercoaster ride with more lows than highs.
For the sake of our sanity, Mets fans need to decide what we want to be.
Are we glass half-empty? Is it possible to shake the nagging feeling that the pitching injuries will be too much to overcome? Edwin Diaz, Justin Verlander, Jose Quintana, Carlos Carrasco: the list goes on and on. It was three weeks ago, but the Brewers treating the Mets like a Beginner difficulty opponent in MLB the Show still stings. Max Scherzer is suspended 10 games. Eduardo Escobar has been in a season-long funk. Top-rated prospect Francisco Alvarez has seemed overmatched at the plate.
I don't know about you, but I can't spend over six months and 162 games wallowing in misery and doubt. I'd much rather bask in the glow of winning two of three from the Dodgers at Chavez Ravine. Thrill me with Pete Alonso hitting baseballs into the upper deck. Show me David Robertson and Adam Ottavino locking games down from the back end of the bullpen. Let me enjoy Joey Lucchesi making his triumphant return. Give me snuggle buddies.
Give me Brandon Freaking Nimmo.
It's impossible not to believe in a team that employs Brandon Nimmo. When the center fielder signed an eight year, $162 million contract this offseason, I rejoiced. I thought what we were getting was the player we've seen for the past seven or so years: a professional hitter, a great locker room guy, and a dude that gives max effort every play. Instead, what we got was one of the most complete players in baseball.
The fear when players sign big contracts is that their production will slip once they've cashed in. Baseball contracts are guaranteed, so even if you age overnight like Albert Pujols, or forget how to hit like Chris Davis, the team is just out of luck. If ever there was a player to inspire confidence in his continued post-contract production, though, it's Brandon Nimmo.
Nimmo is the modern reincarnation of Pete Rose (minus the, well, you know). He hits for contact. He works the count. He hustles on every play. His very presence energizes the entire team. In a game that is so enamored with stats, he brings an element that can't be quantified by mere numbers.
For a guy whose stats are so incredible, that's really saying something. Let's run down the list. Entering the week, Nimmo was hitting .350, good for fourth in the National League. His .455 on base percentage is tied for second in the majors. He leads all outfielders with three defensive outs above average, and the eye test corroborates that he's been the best defensive center fielder in baseball, an incredible improvement even from last year. He's even already matched his 2022 total of three stolen bases on the season.
The little things are what really elevate Nimmo in the hearts and minds of Mets fans. Call it corny, but I can't get enough of how he sprints down to first when he draws a walk. For someone that plays in the New York pressure cooker that has chewed up and spit out lesser men, the dude is always smiling. He's unflappable. The season is still young, but he's been better in nearly every way, and he was already very, very good.
The season is still young, but Mets fans have to be happy that the team has overcome so much to be near the top of the National League. It's been anything but a smooth ride, but whereas in the past it often felt like one step forward and two steps back, this team seems to gain ground even in the face of mounting adversity.
The biggest reason for that, in my opinion, is the man at the top of the order. On a star-studded team just teeming with bigger, flashier names, Brandon Nimmo is the straw that stirs the drink. The Mets have lofty ambitions this season, and Nimmo is the biggest reason we should be optimistic the team can achieve them. I know it can be hard to push aside the negatives and just enjoy the ride, Mets fans, but Brandon Nimmo is smiling. You should be, too.