Table-Setters: Starling Marte, Brandon Nimmo
The case for having outfielders Starling Marte and Brandon Nimmo at the top of the batting order doesn’t leave much debate. The real question is which one should lead off and which is better suited for the second spot.
Marte took all but 18 of his plate appearances in 2021 batting second in the order, but interestingly, had a better slash line when leading off innings compared to his overall numbers. Splitting the season between Miami and Oakland, Marte hit .311 overall with a .383 on-base percentage (OBP) and .458 slugging percentage (SLG). In 100 plate appearances leading off innings, his slash line grew to .322/.390/.500 with eight extra-base hits.
Meanwhile, Nimmo has made a living as the catalyst of the Mets lineup, with 89 percent of his 2021 plate appearances batting first in the order. His overall slash line (.291/.401/.437) matches well with Marte’s, but the key difference lies in their approach. Nimmo has built a reputation for working the count (38 percent of his plate appearances went more than four pitches) and his 54 walks surpassed Marte’s 43 despite 140 fewer trips to batter’s box.
Taking their approach into account, Nimmo profiles as the more likely to start the year leading off with Marte hitting second. With that said, it shouldn’t be a surprise to see both used interchangeably throughout the season, especially when considering Marte’s speed (league-leading 47 steals last year) and the potential for Nimmo to get better pitches to hit if slotted behind Marte. Either way, new manager Buck Showalter will have a dynamic table-setting duo at his disposal.