Brandon Nimmo of the Mets strikes out in the ninth inning...

Brandon Nimmo of the Mets strikes out in the ninth inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers in the second game of a doubleheader at Citi Field on Tuesday, May 28, 2024. Credit: Jim McIsaac

Brandon Nimmo is as happy a Mets player as you will find, his off-field demeanor exactly matching that sprint-to-first-after-a-walk energy you see during games. He is cheerful, he is upbeat, he is positive even when others find it difficult to be that way.

But when it comes to this slump, one of the worst of his life, he won’t pretend. He does not have answers.

“It’s terrible,” he said on Friday afternoon before the Mets opened a three-game series against the Padres. “I don’t know. I’m trying to figure it out.”

Nimmo’s .215 average entering the weekend was the worst of his career. His .339 OBP and .369 slugging percentage were almost the worst, ahead of only 2016, when he first dabbled as a part-timer in the majors.

It’s even uglier during the past month-plus. Remember when he came off the bench to blast a walk-off home run against Atlanta on “Sunday Night Baseball” on May 12? Since then, he has an awfully un-Nimmo-like .188/.278/.281 slash line.

“Swinging and missing more than I’ve ever [done] in my career,” he said. “Throwing paint against the wall to see what sticks. It’s a process sometimes, it doesn’t just show up overnight. It’s frustrating. It’s really frustrating. It’s weird that after eight years you can still be experiencing new things. But it’s just the way baseball is.”

The short version of what ails Nimmo is: He doesn’t really know. It has something to do with the timing of his swing.

 

The long version is, well, long — and incomplete.

Nimmo pointed to a series of unfortunate events in mid-to- late May, from becoming violently ill (May 16) to getting hit in the head by a pitch (May 24) to minor shoulder and hand soreness. He couldn’t pinpoint any of those as an explanation or source of his problems. Maybe combined they did something? Possibly?

“It’s kind of weird how it all started,” Nimmo said. “You can have a start point from when I got sick to really, really good before and not great after. Just had a few things snowball. I don’t know if I developed bad habits where I got sick, then my shoulder was bothering me a little bit — not to the point of being out of games, but maybe to the point of maybe altering the swing a little bit. Then my hand started bothering me a little bit.

“So then you’re like, OK, did I make — subconsciously — too much of little adjustments that now have snowballed into bigger things? Then getting hit in the head, but I checked out well on all the tests and I feel fine. I’m not trying to use any of that for an excuse. And now it’s just like, OK, so where did we go wrong? How do I fix that?”

Nimmo is more of a science-of-hitting guy than art-of-hitting, diving into the video and data the Mets record of batters on the field and in their batting cage — most of which seem fine in his case, he said. He has deduced that timing is his primary issue, which leads to lots of whiffs and ground balls, two bad outcomes. But solving that issue is not easy.

Take his double-play grounder in the first inning Thursday as an example. He said if he had connected with the ball “one more frame” — frames on the video — earlier than he did, it would have been a line drive.

“What we’re trying to fix is, OK, there must be some little fat in the swing or little hesitation in what I’m seeing or whatever it may be that is making me [ever-so-slightly late],” he said. “We’re talking probably one or two frames, which is probably less than tenths of a second. But that’s the difference in being a good hitter and not being a good hitter.”

Manager Carlos Mendoza said: “It comes down to the timing. This is something that he knows, he’s aware and he’s working on it . . . When he’s on time, he’s a pretty special hitter. Right now, he’s off.”

Mendoza also said “he’ll get through it” and has provided the action to back up those words, sticking with Nimmo in the top third of the lineup. He has bounced from leadoff to third to, in recent days, second.

“I’m working at it,” Nimmo said. “But, yeah, it’s bad.”

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