Kirk Nieuwenhuis; it’s almost as hard to spell his name as it is for pitchers to get him out. Kirk came up this year after Opening Day to replace the injured Andres Torres and has performed with the finesse of a seasoned veteran. Whether it’s in the middle of the order, or leading off, the 24-year old centerfielder has found a way to get on base.
He doesn’t particularly exceed in one or two parts of his game, but rather performs well in virtually every part of his game. He can field, he can throw, he can bat for power, contact or draw a walk, he can even steal a bag or two. After yesterday’s walk-off single, Kirk is now batting .333/.403/.517 in his short time in the majors. He can literally do it all and is doing everything he possibly can to show Terry Collins and the Mets organization that he belongs in that lineup every single day.
Because the team is comprised of such a young and mostly homegrown clubhouse, many of the other 24 Mets on the roster know Kirk all to well and are already familiar with his type of play. I got to speak with several of those players who have seen Kirk grow from the minors to now.
I first approached and asked Mike Baxter about Kirk’s catch in left-center in Game One of the Marlins series, the one that robbed Jose Reyes of an extra base hit in his first at-bat back at Citi Field:
“It was huge, that’s momentum, and momentum in baseball doesn’t just come at the plate, plays like that get the team going. Kirk’s been doing an incredible job of both sides of the ball hitting and playing the field extremely well, so watching him make that play set the ton for the game.” – Mike Baxter
Kirk himself was a bit more humble about it:
“It felt good to get some momentum our way. And then watching Johan do his thing was really great.” – Kirk Nieuwenhuis
Here is what some of the guys that have been with Kirk for several years in the minors had to say about him:
“He’s a great outfielder and a great defensive player, one of the many tricks out of the Nieuwenhuis bag.” – Robert Carson
“When you have Nieuy jumping into walls, it really sets the tone for a game.” – Mike Nickeas
“I’ve been playing with Kirk from Brookyln all the way to here and to see him going out there having success, he deserves it, he works hard, he’s actually been one of my best friends I’ve played with the past couple years, and to see what he is doing now is exactly what I want to do, to be able to go out there, have an opportunity and show what you can do.” – Zach Lutz
Kirk Nieuwenhuis has done the job of filing a hole in the outfield and so much more. He has quietly provided that “sprak” that so many thought would be lost with the departure of Jose Reyes. He has been an offensive juggernaut and done more than his fair share in the outfield. For so long we have been saying that Ike Davis and Lucas Duda are the two young bats who will be the future star offensive threats, but I think it’s almost time to add Kirk Nieuwenhuis to that list. He has done everything a player can do to show he belongs, and it looks as if Terry Collins and the entire Mets organization are starting to realize that.