The New York Mets are currently worried about somehow scratching their way into the 2019 NL Wildcard game. Should they make it, this would be considered one of their most miraculous runs to reach the playoffs. Should they not, it still will not be seen as a completely lost season for the team. It is the first time since 2016 where September baseball and the Mets can actually be used together when a discussion of relevancy comes to mind. That, and it was a complete season for Pete Alonso, Jeff McNeil, and J.D. Davis, a trio that the Mets should look to build around.
While they are all offensive dynamos, both Alonso and Davis are more of the middle of the lineup type sluggers. So, out of the trio, it seems like easy math that McNeil should be the leadoff hitter for years to come. Not so fast. Lost for most of the season, but back on the scene with the same gigantic grin and speedy home run dash, Brandon Nimmo has rapidly put his name back into the conversation to be remembered for the leadoff position in the batting order. He has been electric since returning to the lineup, stroking a .297 batting average to go with an OPS of 1.183. This kind of electricity has Nimmo back in the leadoff spot, just like last season.
The third horse in this race for the leadoff spot is Amed Rosario, who was long thought to be the leadoff hitter of the future as he was coming up through the Mets minor league system. In 172 plate appearances in the leadoff position this season, Rosario has displayed a .297 average and a .784 OPS. The only position in the lineup where both of those numbers is the eighth spot. Each individual hitter brings something different to the table when they come in to leadoff a game.
For Jeff McNeil, you can expect him to take hacks. You can especially expect him to take hacks on the first pitch, which has become a staple of his. Although his average has not hovered in the .330’s like it was early in the season, McNeil has now established a new level to his game at the plate: Power. The reason that McNeil started to gain attention in the minor leagues was because of his power stroke. That stroke somewhat evaporated when he reached the majors, until recently. A cool stat to exemplify his recent power? According to a tweet from @tpgMets, Alonso has 21 home runs and 51 RBIs in his last 300 plate appearances. In his last 300 plate appearances, McNeil has 19 home runs and the same number of RBIs.
While not as much of a power threat, Nimmo brings a more traditional feel to the leadoff position. He is a patient hitter, who takes a great number of walks. Perhaps this is why manager Mickey Callaway has opted to put Nimmo in front of McNeil so far. The strategy to put someone on base before a dynamic hitter like McNeil, and then eventually Alonso, makes sense.
As for Rosario, he is the least likely to get the leadoff spot, especially if he is battling McNeil and Nimmo. While he has been electric at the plate this season and shown that he has matured offensively, he still does not have the tools like McNeil and Nimmo. He doesn’t have a power bat, nor does he walk a ton. However, in a pinch, Rosario would not be a bad option to start the game off with.
In all, the Mets are blessed with a good problem. They have three players that they could put in the leadoff spot, and depending on who the Mets are facing, they might each see some time there next season.