There is actually a portion of the Mets fan base who still refer to Nimmo as a fourth outfielder, even though he has quite simply been one of the most valuable outfielders in all of baseball since 2018.
Some of this has to do with Nimmo’s career batting average, which is just .262. But batting average is not nearly as important as it used to be when it comes to measuring success, especially when put up against on-base percentage, slugging percentage, and other stats.
Even for those fans obsessed with batting average, what Nimmo has done so far this season (and what he did in 2020) should open their eyes.
In 31 plate appearances in seven games in 2021, Nimmo is hitting .435/.581/.565, with his .581 OBP leading the majors.
And Nimmo, who has looked absolutely locked in at the plate so far, appears to be building off what he did in 2020, when he slashed .280/.404/.484.
Since the start of the 2018 season, Nimmo has hit .262/.402/.467, and those numbers are actually skewed a bit low due to the fact that he played through an injury in 2019 before hitting the IL and getting right after returning.
But while Nimmo has been very good for years, what he has done so far in 2021 has been otherworldly.
Nimmo looks as comfortable as ever at the plate, his always-elite pitch recognition has been off the charts (he is literally in the 100th percentile when it comes to chase rate), and he has been coming through in key spots.
And Nimmo is of course not going to stay this hot for the rest of April, let alone the rest of the season.
But what the Mets appear to have with Nimmo is a player who is still getting better as he plays during his age-28 season.
It also feels like ancient history that Nimmo hit eighth in the lineup on Opening Day as Kevin Pillar led off. That was bizarre, and will likely not happen again this season (nor should it) as Nimmo becomes a fixture in the leadoff spot.
BIG DECISIONS COMING
Going forward with Nimmo, the Mets will have to make two big decisions.
The first will revolve around where he fits defensively.
Unfortunately for Nimmo and the Mets, he is in center field this season due to the lack of the DH, but the expectation is that there will be a universal DH starting in 2022.
That would allow the Mets to slide Nimmo to left field, add a true defensive center fielder via free agency or trade, and slide Dominic Smith to the DH spot.
While the Mets should be set up well for 2022, Nimmo is set to hit free agency after the season.
Perhaps if the Mets extend both Conforto and Syndergaard, a long-term deal for Nimmo would become less likely. But it really shouldn’t.
In a world where there is a DH in the National League, the Mets can afford to go defense first (and less expensive) in center, with Nimmo in left field and Conforto in right.
For now, though, the Mets and Nimmo will enjoy the ride as he appears to be blossoming into a true star.