New York Mets: Brandon Nimmo vs. Jeff McNeil in the Leadoff Spot

Daniel Marcillo
Sep 29, 2019; New York City, NY, USA; New York Mets center fielder Brandon Nimmo (9) at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Mets have one of their most dynamic lineups in years, but one of their biggest questions is on who the leadoff hitter will be. Brandon Nimmo and Jeff McNeil both have been successful leadoff hitters, but both offer different approaches at the plate. Which one will be the best table-setter for the Mets?

Brandon Nimmo

Nimmo struggled in 2019 due to his neck injury. During 2018 he emerged as an everyday player hitting .263/.404/.483. Nimmo is the best the Mets have at getting on base and working into deep counts. Even in a down season, he still managed to put up a .375 on-base percentage.

He is not going to hit above .270 due to his approach. Nimmo will be good for over 100 strikeouts, but he will also be good for close to 100 walks as well. If Nimmo hits leadoff, McNeil will be the two-hitter, which makes an easy fix for where McNeil hits. Nimmo has a career .378 on-base out of the leadoff spot, but his highest is .430 out of the six spot.

Jeff McNeil

During Nimmo’s absence, McNeil took over the role as the Mets leadoff hitter. He slashed .320/.386/.521 out of the leadoff position and only struck out 60 times in the 93 he hit leadoff. McNeil’s added power to go along with his Tony Gwynn-like ability to find base hits making him an enticing option as the Mets leadoff hitter.

Should McNeil leadoff, Pete Alonso would likely hit second as he did in 2019. This would move Nimmo to the lower part of the order behind the power bats the Mets have. McNeil will likely play in more games than Nimmo, which should make him a more enticing leadoff option since he will play there every day.

Approach is Key

The Mets could not have two more polar opposite options. McNeil swings at the first pitch more than anyone on the roster, and Nimmo does his best work deep in the count. There is no wrong answer to the leadoff hitter. It will fall on Luis Rojas’s preference out of a leadoff hitter along with his plans for the rest of the lineup. The best part of this year’s Spring Training is that the Mets have options throughout their team, which they have not been able to say in a long time.