Mets Monday Morning GM: Brandon Nimmo must've made a deal with the devil to get this good

New York Mets v San Francisco Giants
New York Mets v San Francisco Giants / Thearon W. Henderson/GettyImages

Every offseason New York Mets outfielder Brandon Nimmo takes a little walk to the edge of town and goes across the tracks. You know the place. Where the viaduct looms, like a bird of doom as shifts and cracks? Where secrets lie in the border fires in the humming wires?

Maybe you haven’t been there before. Nimmo, meanwhile, seems like he does every winter. The Mets must know of this annual trip because they’ve kept faith in him over the years, never wavering from allowing him to play.

Nimmo has been a valuable part of the Mets offense since 2018 when he became a full-time player. His weaknesses were obvious early on. He couldn’t hit well against lefties. His defense in center field was weak. He was all OBP, not batting average. Has Nimmo gotten some help at improving his game from a tall handsome man in a dusty black coat with a red right hand?

Improvements for NY Mets outfielder Brandon Nimmo continue to arrive with each season

Disguised behind that smile is a tenacious athlete who definitely seemed to grow up this offseason even more. Nimmo has been one of the more quiet leaders of the Mets for several seasons. He isn’t as boisterous as Pete Alonso. His presence isn’t felt the same way on the field as Francisco Lindor.

There is no denying the longest-tenured Mets player has a lot of say in the locker room. It’s publicly known. It just never really gets seen. Some of the best leaders hide their talent in that department. We may never fully understand how Nimmo has gone from “fourth outfielder” to a judge in any behind-the-scenes kangaroo court. What he can’t hide is how much he has improved and become an amazing overall player.

The 2018 campaign was a huge year for him. Nimmo played in 140 games and hit .263/.404/.483. His strength was getting on base. His weaknesses were much more.

There weren’t too many improvements in the following season. In fact, because he played in only 69 games, his reputation as a part-time player grew. It was probably around this time when he set out on some sort of a mission. Could this low average, high OBP hitter who belonged in the corner outfield and only against right-handed pitchers become all that much more?

The rise of Brandon Nimmo began in the shortened 2020 season

Nimmo thrived at the plate over the last three years. Batting averages of .280, .292, and .274 came. He’s hitting well over .300 in 2023 now and while it’s unlikely to stay there, he is well ahead of setting a new personal best.

Improving his batting average is one thing. The bigger “ask” from fans was for Nimmo to become a competent defender in center field. From 2021-onward, he has been sharp. No statistic does as much to confirm this more than the eye test, but for the sake of providing some information, he had 0.6 WAR in 2021, 0.2 in 2022, and is putting up positive totals again in 2023. This comes from a guy who went as low as -0.6 in 2018 on defense.

It’s a big change. The largest of all was the deal Nimmo made to stay healthy. He missed significant time in 2019 and 2021. By appearing in 151 games last year, those thoughts of Nimmo not being able to stay on the field have dissipated. It’s great news for the Mets. They’re paying him a lot of money.

Nimmo has become a well-rounded baseball player. He even hits lefties. In 717 plate appearances, he’s slashing .265/.375/.411 compared to the .274/.393/.455 versus right-handed pitchers.

Was it a deal with the devil? A late bloom? Or is Nimmo one of the hardest working men in the game? Let’s go with a combination of all three.