Walks are good; extra-base hits are better. The best approach for hitting has you looking for a pitch you can drive, whether that comes on the fifth pitch or the first pitch. Don’t expand the zone and take a walk if you don’t get a pitch to hit. No one personifies this approach on the Mets better than Brandon Nimmo. At times in his career, it seemed like Nimmo was hunting walks more so than pitches to drive. But it’s possible that he’s found the perfect balance here in the latter part of the 2023 season.
In his last 163 PA, Nimmo has a .313/.380/.551 mark. Yeah, the hits are falling in for him to some degree, as he has a .352 BABIP in this stretch, compared to a .332 lifetime mark in the category. But more important is that he has 18 XBH in this span, including 8 HR. Nimmo’s 9.2 BB% isn’t bad – it’s just not what we’re used to seeing from him. But when a player has a .238 ISO, you don’t want him hunting walks.
When it comes to sports, I’m a superstitious person. You don’t mention if a pitcher has a no-hitter, if you wear a yellow shirt and your favorite player has a four-hit game, you better wear a yellow shirt the next day, too. And if the Mets start a rally in the World Series and you’re doing something – you keep doing that exact thing for as long as possible.
Nimmo is having great success as a leadoff batter so my preference would be to keep him there and not upset the gods. But it does seem – at the very least on a theoretical level – that it’s okay to consider moving him to a different spot in the order. The most important thing, by 900 miles, a leadoff hitter can do is to get on base. And there’s no one who can challenge Nimmo’s .380 OBP here since August 11. But Nimmo doesn’t have the advantage of having someone like himself to drive him home, outside of the times he homers. Nimmo’s been on base at least 64 times (hits, walks, HBP and errors) and likely a few more due to fielder’s choices in the past 36 games, yet has only 19 runs scored. It seems like Nimmo should have more runs than that; yet, what’s a good ratio of times on base and runs scored?
In his MVP season of 1973, Pete Rose – another leadoff hitter without great SB numbers – reached base outside of FC 324 times and had 115 runs scored. That’s 35.5% of the time. Nimmo in his hot stretch here has scored 29.7% of the time he’s reached base. Now, Nimmo doesn’t have the Big Red Machine, with multiple Hall of Famers and MVP winners, batting behind him. But is it unrealistic to expect his numbers to be better in the midst of a hot streak?
It’s far from clear to me what the right thing to do is with regards to Nimmo’s position in the batting order. The only thing for sure is that Nimmo has been producing at a great clip. May those doubles, triples and homers keep coming at the same rate for the remainder of 2023, regardless of what his slot in the lineup is.