Brandon Nimmo has never been an All Star. He has never won a Gold Glove or a Silver Slugger. He has never placed in NL MVP voting. But Nimmo has, in many ways, been the heart of the Mets since debuting in 2016, holding down the leadoff spot and serving a core member of the roster for over half a decade. So it shouldn’t surprise anybody that Nimmo did all the things that make Nimmo special yet again in 2022.
Nimmo’s propensity for getting on base at an above-average clip, more than anything, has been his greatest asset, and the main reason he has become a staple in the leadoff spot. He remained adept at getting on base in 2022, albeit at a slightly lower clip that we’ve become accustomed to seeing. After posting better than a .400 OBP in three of the past four seasons, he posted a .367 OBP this year, the lowest he’s had in a full major league season. Still, it was good enough for fifth in the National League, sandwiched in between teammates Jeff McNeil (fourth, .382 OBP) and Mark Canha (sixth, .367 OBP).
Similarly, Nimmo’s 10.5 BB% was the lowest he has posted since his first go-around in the majors in 2016. But, with his .433 SLG, he finished with an even .800 OPS, making this the third straight year, and fourth time in five years, that he’s posted an OPS of .800 or greater. He always finished with a wRC+ of 134, making this the fourth time in the last five seasons that his wRC+ exceeded 130.
Nimmo, who has been hindered by injuries for much of the past few years, avoided any significant time on the shelf in 2022, which only helped accentuate his value when he is in the lineup. After appearing in just 92 games in 2021 and 69 games in his career-worst 2019 campaign—he did play 55 out of 60 games in 2020—he set career bests by playing 151 games and recording 673 plate appearances and 580 at-bats this season. That was huge for the Mets, as Nimmo, along with Pete Alonso and Francisco Lindor, were staples of the lineup pretty much every game, which prevented the team from needing to dig into their underwhelming depth.
There are a couple of noteworthy accomplishments that will stand out on the back of Nimmo’s baseball card. For one, he reached 100 runs scored for the first time in his career, finishing the season with 102 runs. That’s hardly surprising, as this was the best offensive team he’s been a part of, so there were good hitters to drive him in when he got on base. He also set career highs with 159 hits and 64 runs batted in. He hit 16 home runs, falling one short of his career-best 17 in 2018. He always finished the year with 30 doubles, the first time in his career with 30 doubles. His seven triples also led the NL, although it didn’t top the eight triples he contributed in 2018. He was also hit 16 times as the Mets set the MLB record—he did lead MLB with 18 hit by pitches in 2018. Of all the things he did this year, however, the biggest highlight will remain the comebacker he hit on July 9, which turned into an error that became a walk off on Keith Hernandez Day.
But the most surprising aspect of Nimmo’s game continues to be his defense. When the team signed Starling Marte in the offseason, most assumed he would be manning center for the club, with Nimmo slotting over to one of the corners. But with Marte’s age and the wear on his legs, the team decided to commit to him in right, with Nimmo continuing on as their center fielder. It was a move that was doomed for failure, but Nimmo’s continued improvement made it a good move in the end.
While the numbers don’t particularly stand out, the eye test showed that he was a perfectly cromulent center fielder. He finished with a 6 OAA in center, by far the best mark of his career. If the walk off on Keith Hernandez day was the highlight of his season at the plate, the catch he made to rob Justin Turner of the Dodgers of a home run in a pivotal August game was the highlight of his season with the glove. His fist pump, and Jacob deGrom’s reaction on the mound, really told the full story, and that play came at a time when it felt like the Mets really were heading towards a magical finish to their season.
BRANDON NIMMO STEALS A HOME RUN FROM JUSTIN TURNER!!! pic.twitter.com/ozPc89gRX6— SNY (@SNYtv) September 1, 2022
While Nimmo was on the roster in 2016, he didn’t appear in the Wild Card game. He finally got his chance to play in a postseason game in 2022, and made the most of it, collecting four hits in 12 at-bats against the Padres. His impact was felt most strongly in the team’s win on Saturday, when he reached base in four of his five plate appearances, including three hits and one walk out of the leadoff spot. And therein lies Nimmo’s value to the team: when he is at his best and doing the things you expect from him to do—namely, getting on base—the team succeeds. When the opposing team keeps him off the base paths, the Mets’ offense seems to falter.
It’s for that reason that the team will prioritize re-signing Nimmo as he prepares to hit free agency. It’s hard to predict the kind of contract he will get. As already noted, he has never received any award recognition or an All Star nod, so his value to other teams might not be as high as his value to the Mets. Could that potentially keep his price relatively affordable, allowing the Mets to swoop in with a friendly deal? That remains to be seen. The Rockies have already emerged as a strong suitor for Nimmo’s services, and given the hometown appeal—he grew up in Cheyenne, Wyoming, a quick 90-minute drive from Denver—they could represent tough competition.
But filling Nimmo’s shoes should he depart will be a tall task for the Mets. Beyond Edwin Díaz and Jacob deGrom, he is by far the team’s biggest free agent, and one they can ill afford to lose. The team knows his value, as demonstrated since his debut. Depending on the price, he is as close to a “must-sign” as it gets. It would be strange seeing Nimmo, the third-longest tenure Met on the roster, suiting up in another uniform, excitedly sprinting to first base after a walk.