If there is one New York Mets starting lineup change, aside from some upgrades, it might be at the top. Brandon Nimmo has been the team’s leadoff hitter for several years and having him there makes a lot of sense for Buck Showalter’s boys. He gets on base a ton. Other than his lack of stolen bases, he does everything we expect from a leadoff hitter.
What Starling Marte? He’s a very good yet lesser OBP player. In a lot of lineups, he’d be the leadoff hitter.
You can’t really go wrong with either at the very top. But could Marte actually be the better fit?
The argument for the Mets starting lineup to bat Starling Marte first
It’s a simple argument and you probably either agree or disagree on it. Marte steals more bases and with the MLB rule changes, that should go up. Nimmo can also swipe the occasional bag but I’m not so sure he’ll have as big of an uptick as many of us hope to see in 2023. He made only 5 attempts last year, successfully stealing 3 times. Pete Alonso stole 5 in 6 tries.
Speed out of the way, let’s look at some other factors. Having the order to go from Marte to Nimmo maintains the same balance. When Omar Narvaez bats ninth, having Nimmo at the top also hitting left-handed does put back-to-back lefties in the order. It’s minor. The exact opposite argument could be made when Tomas Nido plays and fellow righty Marte is hitting first. It’s just something to think about.
The bigger consideration is how equally valuable Nimmo is batting second as he is first with the benefit of having a runner in front of him. Nimmo led the league in triples last year with 7 and had 30 doubles. A slower runner in front of him on base, either catcher for instance, won’t have the same results. He’ll be forced to settle for doubles that could’ve been triples. The Mets will have ducks on the pond instead of a run crossing the plate.
Again, those times are few but will happen.
In almost a reversal of arguments, Nimmo hitting directly in front of Francisco Lindor and Pete Alonso is tempting. Getting back to his .400+ OBP ways will give the middle of the order a larger guarantee to step up to the plate with someone on base. It might just be first base but a Lindor single puts runners on the corners and a double can tack on a run. Marte’s .346 OBP last year is about what he has had for his career. It’s good enough to bat first or second in the lineup. Nimmo, in most seasons, is much better. And with Marte grounding into a team-leading 18 double plays last year, a lot of opportunities were erased.
There is zero urgency for the Mets to make major changes at the top. It’s something to consider if there’s a slump from any of the top four hitters in the order. We won’t know the ramifications of a lineup change like this until we see it in place.
Don’t fix it until it breaks. Have a screwdriver ready.