ATLANTA — Brandon Nimmo began spring training determined to become a better base-stealer.
Six months later, the Mets outfielder considers it a losing battle.
As players across the sport have thrived stealing bases, thanks in part to new rules implemented this year that include larger bases and limits to the number of pickoff attempts at a pitcher’s disposal during an at-bat, Nimmo has not enjoyed the bounce and has largely stopped trying, despite his well-above-average speed.
The MLB average stealing bases entering Wednesday was a 79.8 percent success rate.
Nimmo stood at 3-for-6 (50 percent).
Last season Nimmo was 3 of 5 (60 percent) in stolen-base attempts.
“I am just not good at stealing bases,” Nimmo said before the Mets completed their series against the Braves. “It’s either instinctive or bad luck, I have no clue. But when I go, the throw is on the base and I am toast most of the time.”
Nimmo’s most recent foray came Saturday when he was thrown out attempting to steal second base in St. Louis.
He became only the fourth base-stealer thrown out this season by Cardinals catcher Andrew Knizner in 44 attempts against him.
A confluence of circumstances have dissuaded Nimmo from attempting more steals.
In spring training he jammed his hand sliding into a base and didn’t want to aggravate it further.
Once the season began, he bruised his knee on a sliding catch during the team’s West Coast trip in April and began wearing a pad.
And then there was the frustration of getting nailed attempting to steal second for the final out of the game on May 4 in Detroit with the team behind by two runs.
Nimmo admitted that failure led him to further question whether he should be attempting to steal.
“I’m always willing to change, but when the numbers keep telling you this is not benefiting the team, that is when it’s like, ‘OK, we either need to abandon it or move in another direction where, OK, you are on first base, you are in scoring position,’ ” Nimmo said. “I am not saying I won’t take chances in the future, there might be more times when it makes sense and we go, but it’s just that it hasn’t worked out. It’s something we tried working at.”
Though Nimmo’s sprint speed has dropped to 28.1 feet-per-second this season from a peak of 28.9 in 2021, according to Statcast, the outfielder still ranks in the 70th percentile among MLB players.
But Nimmo said the issue in regards to stolen bases is his relative lack of quickness.
“I am not the quickest guy on the team, but I am one of the fastest,” Nimmo said. “It’s something that probably with a lot more time and homework, if there was a lot more emphasis put on it it’s probably something we could improve, but how much percentage I don’t know. But any time with what we’re doing there’s only so many hours in each day, so there are more important things.”
If fewer stolen-base attempts means staying on the field, Nimmo deems it a worthy trade-off.
“Last year I was available every day except for four or five,” Nimmo said. “This year I hope to as well. For me availability is the key.”