PHILADELPHIA — Brandon Nimmo is mostly satisfied with his performance in 2023, but he thinks he has another element he can add to his game next year: Stealing more bases.
Nimmo swiped three bags this season, all in the month of April. Then he attempted one in Detroit in the top of the ninth with the Mets down 2-0 to the Tigers. He was caught. It was an ill-timed try and Nimmo was extremely remorseful.
He’s only tried twice since. But that’s not exactly unusual. Nimmo runs the bases well and he does possess strong speed, but he’s never exactly been a prolific base stealer. His career-high is only nine, which came back in 2018, his first full season in the big leagues.
There are two reasons Nimmo hasn’t attempted many steals, with the primary reason being health. The centerfielder has been prone to muscle injuries like strains in his hamstrings and quads. The trainers have worked with him over the last two seasons to monitor his energy expenditure and figure out a formula to limit those types of injuries and now that they seem to have figured it out, he doesn’t want to do anything that could affect his health.
“There were a lot of times during the middle of the season that my legs just weren’t quite there,” Nimmo told the Daily News.
The other reason is timing. Nimmo looked at his times and realized that they weren’t where they needed to be. He assessed the numbers and realized that it was better for him to stay on base than risk an out.
“Looking at the times and whatnot, I’m just a little bit like slower, so I’m not helping the team anymore — I’m actually hurting the team,” Nimmo said. “Unless it unless you’re going to 100% be safe, then you’re just better off being being there.”
Base stealing is more than just spring speed, which Nimmo has (69th percentile, according to Statcast). He has to be able to get the proper jumps needed to get to max speed before reaching base.
“My big mantra is ‘Know thyself. I know that I’m fast, but I also know that I’m not super quick,” Nimmo said. “Being quick helps a lot in stealing bags because, by the time I get to full speed, I’m past the bag.”
Nimmo thinks that with time and work in the offseason, he can better prepare himself to steal more bags. He has good awareness on the basepaths, often going from first to third on shallow singles and can score from first on fly balls that others wouldn’t test. His instincts and awareness are there, which is why he feels that he can add that tool to his skill set.
If he does, it’s an added bonus for the Mets. But if he doesn’t, the Mets are fine with that. The 30-year-old Nimmo, who is signed for seven more years beyond 2023, has already added power to his bat hitting a career-best 24 home runs this season and becoming an elite defensive centerfielder. The Mets are satisfied with what he brings and don’t want to risk injury, though they do like the motivation and the search for improvements.
“He doesn’t have to,” said manager Buck Showalter. “Brandon is a splendid player as he is. He’s always attacking something. A little more power this year. He attacks things. He’s a guy who is a really good self-evaluator and steps back and says, ‘I need to do this.’ But you’ve got to be careful about robbing from Peter to pay Paul.”
Outfielder Starling Marte (right groin strain) should join Triple-A Syracuse on a rehab assignment this week, but that plan could change with the weather. The Mets are hesitant to specify a date for a return but he’s expected to be back with the Major League club next weekend for the team’s final few games.
Outfielder DJ Stewart (left forearm bruise) is eligible off the bench and will likely be back in the lineup Saturday.
RUMBLING TO THE NEXT ROUND
Double-A Binghamton defeated the Somerset Patriots to capture the Northeast Division title Thursday night and advance to the Eastern League Championship Series. Right-hander Dom Hamel gave the Rumble Ponies 7 2/3 scoreless innings and hasn’t allowed an earned run in 27 2/3 September innings.
The Mets called up right-hander Peyton Battenfield from Triple-A Syracuse on Friday night and optioned right-hander Jeff Brigham, who would have been unavailable for a few days after going multiple innings Thursday night.
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