Home News Brandon Nimmo doesn’t need All-Star nod to prove his value to Mets

Brandon Nimmo doesn’t need All-Star nod to prove his value to Mets

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Here’s an oldie but a goodie:

This was Dec. 10, 2017, at the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort in Orlando, Fla. Word had just begun to percolate that the Yankees were about to rock the winter meetings but good: they were about to trade Starlin Castro, Jose Devers and Jorge Guzman in exchange for Giancarlo Stanton.

Stanton, who’d clubbed 59 homers and driven in 132 runs, who’d edged out Joey Votto for the 2017 National League MVP, would join a lineup that already featured Aaron Judge, who’d swatted 52 homers as a rookie in ’17. And the Marlins were picking up a huge chunk of the contract, too. It felt like “No, No Nanette” all over again.

Brandon Nimmo rounds the bases after hitting a three-run homer in the second inning of the Mets’ 7-5 win over the Nationals. Corey Sipkin for New York Post

Mets fans, of course, were taking this well.

The man who ran the Mets at the time, Sandy Alderson, wasn’t averse to wetting his finger and seeing how the social media winds were blowing. And when he did, amidst a gaggle of writers, he smiled.

“With Brandon Nimmo in right field,” he said, “we just didn’t feel that we had a need there.”

Now, it would be nice to think Alderson knew something nobody else did. He was, after all, the man who took Nimmo in the first round in 2011, 13th overall, eight months after Alderson took over the team. More likely, Alderson was just being Alderson, quick with a quip and quicker with a wink.

To that moment, after all, Nimmo had played exactly 101 games in the major leagues. He’d taken exactly 250 at-bats. He had credible numbers, a .264/.367/.392 slash line. He’d hit seven homers. At that moment he wasn’t even the Mets’ most prized young outfielder, and it wasn’t particularly close between him and Michael Conforto.

Funny thing, though.

Conforto is long gone, hitting .240 for the Giants. Stanton’s time as a Yankee has, to put it kindly, been star-crossed. Since 2018, Stanton’s slash line is .244/.326/.485. That’s an .811 OPS, and a 121 OPS-plus.

Francisco Lindor and Brandon Nimmo celebrate in the dugout after Nimmo’s three-run homer in the second inning of the Mets’ victory. Robert Sabo for New York Post

Nimmo, in the same time: .268/.380/.453. That’s an .834 OPS, and that’s an OPS-plus of 133. Stanton has more homers since 2018, 153-95. But it’s hard to hold a serious debate about who’s been the better player.

Maybe Sandy knew.

To watch Nimmo now is to see a player who is playing, at age 31, with an inordinate amount of confidence. As the Mets won for the 17th time in the 26 games since they began a crucial 35-game stretch against scuffling teams, holding off the Nationals 7-5 and returning to .500 at 45-45, Nimmo got the evening started with an opposite-field fly to left in the second inning that kept carrying and kept carrying until it cleared the wall.

“A hitter’s park home run,” he said, laughing.

He and Francisco Lindor — who also homered Tuesday — have become a formidable 1-2 duet at the top of the lineup, and though neither will be going to Arlington, Texas, next week for the All-Star Game, for the Mets perhaps that’s for the best. They’ve done an awful lot of the heavy lifting lately.

“First off, they’re great players,” Mets manager Carlos Mendoza said. “They’ve been doing it for a long time and it’s impressive the way they’re controlling the strike zone, the way they’re impacting the baseball, going the other way. They’re just seeing the ball so well.”

That tracks. Because lately, it seems Nimmo has contributed a key hit every day. The idea that he isn’t an All-Star is beyond puzzling. But the Mets know who he is. They know what they have. He was hitting .209 as recently as May 30. In the 40 days since he’s at .320/.483/502. Tuesday’s was his eighth homer in 32 games, with 26 RBIs.

Brandon Nimmo belts a three-run homer in the second inning of the Mets’ victory. Corey Sipkin for the New York Post

“I thought I had a darn good shot and I was pretty surprised when I wasn’t in there,” Nimmo admitted after his three RBIs, which added to his team-leading total of 58. “Statistically speaking I’m usually pretty truthful with myself and in a lot of categories that matter I’m up there.”

He’s already won over the Mets, and he won over Mets fans even earlier. They might not have believed Alderson when he ribbed them seven years ago — who did? — but right from the jump Nimmo’s smile and his evident joy playing ball were contagious. He is the best kind of homegrown player. Mets fans really have grown up with him.

And here’s something to think about: he may be on the fast track to nudging his name into the top-five everyday players in Mets’ history, a list that right now looks something like this: Mike Piazza, Carlos Beltran, David Wright, Keith Hernandez, Darryl Strawberry. If nothing else, he’ll make a great case for the top 10.

He may still be waiting to make his first All-Star team. But he’s already got the star part down.

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