Brandon Nimmo’s latest homer robbery another high point in ascending defensive play

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Brandon Nimmo phillies
Fans react after New York Mets’ Brandon Nimmo (9) caught a ball hit by Philadelphia Phillies’ Nick Castellanos for the out during the fourth of a baseball game Tuesday, May 30, 2023, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

QUEENS — Brandon Nimmo is starting to make a habit of these gravity-defying home-run robberies. 

The New York Mets’ center fielder added another web gem to his highlight reel during Tuesday night’s series opener against the division-rival Philadelphia Phillies, robbing Nick Castellanos of a go-ahead solo home run in the top of the fourth inning.

“I knew there was going to be a possibility [of making the catch] so when I got to the track, I was able to start timing it up,” Nimmo said. “That’s when I was just saying ‘OK, if I can time this right then I’ll get it.’

“But everything has to work out perfectly and that timing has to be just right and that timing had to be just right. Luckily, I was able to time that up.”

It was the only mistake that Mets starting pitcher Kodai Senga made on a night he went seven shutout innings in which he allowed just one hit, struck out nine, and didn’t walk a single batter. He left an 86-mph cutter in the middle of the zone which Castellanos was able to turn on it and send it 102 mph off the bat and 388 feet into the alley in left-center field that would have landed just beyond the orange home-run line.

“It was an amazing catch,” Senga said. “Not only me but the rest of the pitching staff have been saved by Nimmo’s defense a lot of the times and I really appreciate him being in center field patrolling.”

Nimmo, who signed an eight-year, $162 million deal to stay with the Mets this winter, has steadily improved his defense over the last four seasons, especially on balls that are hit behind him. After posting minus-2 outs above average on chances hit over his head in 2020, he was a plus-2 in 2021 and a plus-5 last season, according to Baseball Savant, including a home-run robbery of Justin Turner to preserve a late-August 2-1 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers.

“We targeted it as something to work on and I’ve gotten more comfortable with it,” Nimmo said after admitting that his catch last season was the more difficult chance to pull off. “I’ve gotten more comfortable with taking my eye off the ball and kind of running to spots. So I think it’s allowed me to get to more balls.”

Brandon Nimmo Mets Dodgers
New York Mets center fielder Brandon Nimmo catches a ball hit by Los Angeles Dodgers’ Justin Turner during the seventh inning of a baseball game Wednesday, Aug. 31, 2022, in New York. (AP Photo/Adam Hunger)

Such an improvement continues to send the right message to manager Buck Showalter, who has often lauded Nimmo’s work ethic as the reason why he’s been unable to unlock new levels to his game. 

“He’s one of those guys who sees something that he may not be as good as they’re capable of being and they attack it instead of constantly going out there and working on the things you’re good at,” Showalter said. “It takes someone very team-oriented to go out there and work on the things that might keep you from being a complete player. He works hard at it and he’s gotten comfortable playing a lot of baseball.

“As he’s grown, you’re seeing a guy who has come into his own as a baseball player. That’s one of the reasons why we trusted him with the contract.”

For more on Brandon Nimmo and the Mets, visit AMNY.com