Throughout the course of the past few years, the Mets have been building a youth movement in New York. And while the lineup and rotation are lined with a combination of budding and developed stars from top to bottom, one certain player has the chance to become the future of the Mets organization: Brandon Nimmo.
Nimmo’s name often goes overlooked in Queens, as the Wyoming native has served as the fourth player in a three-man outfield. Over the course of the past 3 years, Nimmo has had less plate appearances for the Mets than Michael Conforto, Yoenis Cespedes, and Jay Bruce. While all three of the aforementioned players outclass Nimmo on paper and certainly deserve a spot in the Mets lineup, Nimmo has proved himself to be a formidable part of an already talented team, and yet, has historically received minimal opportunities to showcase his talents.
Last season, Nimmo only played 69 games at the major league level with 215 plate appearances. When you consider that Conforto and Cespedes both had their seasons shortened by injury, and Bruce was traded to Cleveland in August, there were ample opportunities for the Mets to utilize Nimmo’s untapped potential. Still, the Mets continued to stunt Nimmo’s progression as veterans such as Juan Lagares, Curtis Granderson, and Nori Aoki headlined the outfield on most days in 2017, relegating Nimmo to the bench, or worse, the minor leagues.
However, in 2018, the New Mets have crafted a formidable roster that posts young players across the entire diamond. A new generation of players in Conforto, SS Amed Rosario, and of course the entire starting rotation has already proven that they can compete at the highest level, as back-to-back playoff berths in 2015 and 2016 solidified the Mets as legitimate contenders in the National League.
And now, in 2018, the Mets are looking incredibly strong, as the team won 5 of its first 6 games. However, with Michael Conforto returning from injury a full three months earlier than expected, Brandon Nimmo’s future hangs in the balance once again. It remains to be seen how the Mets will use Nimmo going forward, but if his .375 AVG and .615 OBP are any indicators, the Mets would be wise to find a slot for Nimmo in the lineup. With Cespedes in LF, Conforto in CF, and Bruce in RF, it would seem that Nimmo is the odd man out once again. However, with Nimmo being thrusted into the non-existent fourth outfielder slot, only one option remains for the Mets if their plan is to somehow work all four outfielders into the lineup on any given day.
If Cespedes, Conforto, Bruce, and Nimmo are all going to find their way into the lineup, one of them must move from the outfield into the infield. The obvious choice for New York would be to move Adrian Gonzalez from 1B to the bench and Jay Bruce from RF to 1B. However, Gonzalez has been hitting the ball incredibly well throughout the early stages of the 2018 season, as he’s hit .294 through his first 21 ABs, solidifying his spot as the team’s starting 1B. Additionally, Bruce hasn’t taken any reps at 1B since May of 2017, and has only played the position a handful of times in his career.
And while he might be the most fit of all the Mets outfielders to make a positional shift, it would still make sense for the Mets to run a lineup that features Cespedes, Conforto, and Bruce in the outfield, with Nimmo holding down the first position on the bench, as his unmatched ability to come up clutch in a big pinch hit situation will be much needed for New York throughout the course of the season. Collectively, the team has hit .203 in pinch-hit situations since 2016, whereas Nimmo alone has utilized pinch hit situations to hit for a staggering average of .311 since the start of his career.
Essentially, Brandon Nimmo is a major focal point when it comes to reaching base for the Mets. Only Michael Conforto held a higher OBP for the team in 2017, as Nimmo’s prowess in the box was a major catalyst for the team’s wild-card run only one year prior. And now, with the 2018 season fully underway, Brandon Nimmo’s future looks to be solidified as the clutch pinch hitter the Mets have desperately needed for so long.
For a team that was starting Nori Aoki and Travis Taijeron just six months ago, the Mets finally have a good problem: too much talent, and not enough spots in the lineup. And although the season is still young, Brandon Nimmo is already becoming a shining example of this concept. Hopefully, for the Mets, talent can bloom throughout the course of a season that has already looked incredibly promising.