Though there’s no statistic for these sorts of things (not yet, anyway), it’s a good bet that Brandon Nimmo’s walks are the fastest in all of baseball.
He’ll take ball four — as he’s done 18 times already this season — and sprint to first base, as if he’s worried the home-plate umpire will change his mind. It’s not just walks, either. He bounds onto the field when he’s taking his place in left. And when he hit Dan Straily’s 2-and-2 fastball 410 feet to the second deck in rightfield Wednesday night in the Mets’ 2-1 loss to the Marlins, he booked it to first, dashed to second, galloped to third and scampered home.
He also singled on the second pitch he saw from Adam Conley in the eighth.
“He’s really happy,” Mickey Callaway said by way of understatement Monday. “When he walks, the way he runs to first pumps everybody up in the dugout. When they walk, they walk, when he walks, he sprints to first, and everyone goes, ‘Oh, way to go!’ ’’ His enthusiasm brings a lot to our team.”
There are things that could have threatened Nimmo’s happiness. When Yoenis Cespedes, Jay Bruce and Michael Conforto are all healthy, he often gets demoted to the bench. There have been slumps — before his home run Wednesday, Nimmo went hitless in the previous two games, but that’s nothing compared to the long stretches with inconsistent playing time in his first two years in the majors. Even someone with his general optimism and good nature must have paused — even for a fleeting moment — when the Mets signed outfielder Jose Bautista.
But nope. Still happy. Nimmo is usually beaming when he walks into the clubhouse. His Twitter feed, @You_Found_Nimmo, is awash in encouraging Bible verses (Wednesday’s was a selection from the Gospel of Matthew) and, recently, a video of him talking about how fortunate he is to play the game. Whereas some opt for intimidating tunes in their walk-up music, Nimmo trots to the plate to an inspirational ballad called “Fear is a Liar.” (No word yet if he’s trying to encourage the opposing pitcher, too.)
Whether it’s his good outlook, his skill, or a mixture of both, it’s working. Recent injuries mean that, for the time, leftfield is his. Nimmo has flourished in his 18 starts this year, with a double, three triples, two homers, three RBIs, 13 runs and 13 walks, and he came into the game with a .412 on-base percentage in leadoff plate appearances. His average is up to .259.
“It just comes from the joy that I have playing and just how thankful I am to be in this situation,” Nimmo told Mets.com, trying to explain that enthusiasm. “I try to take myself back from it and see the pieces that went into getting here and how fortunate I am to be healthy and be playing my game as a job.
“I think you see that joy and thankfulness coming out into the games. I try to be a positive influence to my teammates. I try to be a smile that’s around — especially when things aren’t going well, like they were — to just try to be some kind of light in the clubhouse.”
That light is so bright that these days, it’s all but impossible to miss.