This year, the Mets’ bullpen has been shaky, the defense poor, and the offense… well, just plain horrible. But somehow, outfielder Brandon Nimmo is leading the league in an offensive stat, and he is well ahead of the pace to set an all-time single season Mets record in that category.
As some of you may have guessed, that stat is HBP. So far this year, with a little over one third of the season complete, Nimmo has been plunked 10 times to lead the NL. The all-time single-season mark for the franchise is 14, set in 2015 by Lucas Duda. Tied for second in HBP totals for the Mets for a season are Ron Hunt in 1963 and John Olerud in 1997, both were hit 13 times in those seasons. So at this point, it would be a surprise if Nimmo does not set the single-season mark for the Mets this year.
Nimmo is having a fine year at the plate in general, sporting a slash line of .271/.413/.556, and he has smacked five triples. But his HBP totals are what will probably get him in the Mets record book.
There are some reasons why Nimmo has racked up a lot of HBP this year. He stands pretty close to the plate. That gives him good coverage on pitches on the outer part of the plate, but also opens him up to getting nicked, or in some cases drilled, by inside pitches.
Nimmo is tough, and you need to be to rack up those HBP. When he does get hit, he quickly tosses the bat away and then trots to first at a fast pace, flashing his trademark grin, even if it is a pitch that had to be quite painful.
Nimmo is fearless, as you have to be to practically stand on the plate with the opposing pitcher hurling those 90 MPH plus fastballs.
MLB rules say a batter must make an effort to avoid being hit by the pitch to be awarded first base. There are players, and Nimmo appears to be one of them, who can it make it look like they are trying to avoid a pitch without really doing so.
It was noted earlier that Ron Hunt is currently tied for second for the Mets season record for HBP. After he left the Mets, Hunt accrued some huge HBP seasons. In 1971, when the second baseman played for Montreal, he was hit an incredible 50 times that season, setting the modern MLB HBP record. Hunt ended up leading the league in HBP seven times, and he amassed a lifetime total of 243 HBP (ouch!).
If he can avoid injury, Nimmo could be a hard-hitting batting force for years to come with the Mets. He is also the kind of player who is literally willing to take one, or in this case 10 (so far) for the team.