Batting cleanup for just the second time in his career, Brandon Nimmo looked the part last night, slugging two home runs and a double. But, while this unexpected power surge might not last forever, he is showing a steady glove and, most notably, legitimately elite plate discipline...
Is that enough to keep Nimmo on the field?
By far Nimmo's biggest strength, what got him drafted and has kept him on a steady trajectory for the majors, is his ability to get on base. Among all batters with at least 100 plate appearances, Nimmo's .416 on base percentage ranks 6th. Even more impressive, his 18% walk rate ranks 3rd, a metric that is relatively stable in a sample size this small. He swings at the 4th fewest pitches outside the strike zone and sees the 3rd most pitches per plate appearance.
Nimmo doesn't just have a "good" eye at the plate, he may have one of the best eyes at the plate in the league. But even after last night's explosion, he has below-average power and strikes out in a quarter of his plate appearances.
Is Nimmo a starter, a bench player, or a fringe major leaguer?
Nimmo's .283 average rests on a .379 batting average on balls in play that is certain to come down. And when it does, what will remain? As a starter, much will depend on his ability to either add at least a little power or stick in center field. It's difficult to get away with Nimmo's level of power in a corner spot, unless you're getting above average from other spots in the field, which the Mets are not.
Still just 24, it's entirely possible that he will do that, but his career line in the minors suggests it's not too likely. Lagares's defense all but ensures he is first in line for the Mets for center field, so Nimmo's future in the starting lineup is still very much up in the air.
On the bench, it's clear that Nimmo provides significant, if unusual, value. Bench bats tend to favor power over patience because of the need for a big hit late, but there are plenty of late and close situations where you just need a guy to not make an out. Currently, Nimmo is one of the best players in baseball at not making outs. His speed isn't exceptional, but good enough to pinch run here and there and he can adequately cover all three outfield spots. That's a recipe for an excellent bench player and there's no reason to expect less based on what he has shown thus far.
What to watch for in September...
The next month of at bats won't tell us everything there is to know about Nimmo, but it will show us how he adjusts to playing every day in the majors for the first time. Much of his future rests on Lagares's bat and Conforto's rehab, but Nimmo is proving that he has a truly exceptional ability to read pitches and there is always a place in the majors for that kind of talent. And with youth and playing time on his side, he has the chance to be even more.
Maggie Wiggin has been a Mets fan since birth and a MetsBlog contributor since 2013. She loves throwing hard and hitting hard and hates the DH. When baseball is out of season, she fills her days with data analysis and evaluation and patiently waits for Spring | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Archive Posts