NEW YORK -- The last on-field image of Brandon Nimmo's breakout season was an ironic one: the outfielder, known for always sprinting, stumbled rounding first base. The right hamstring strain Nimmo sustained at that moment, in the seventh inning of Saturday's 1-0 win over the Marlins, effectively ended the outfielder's 2018 campaign a day early.
"He won't play tomorrow," Mets manager Mickey Calloway said. "I'm sure he feels like he ended the season on a great note. It's better to do it right now than it would have been to do it a month ago. We have that positive outlook on it."
Able to put weight on the strain, which the Mets characterized as mild, hours later, Nimmo allowed himself to reflect on his season in a similar way. The Mets surely will as well, after Nimmo spent the summer emerging as one of the more productive outfielders in the National League. That the 25-year-old seems likely to garner some down-ballot MVP votes rings all the more impressive given where he started the year: in a platoon with Juan Lagares as New York's part-time fourth outfielder.
Nimmo had shown flashes of his on-base ability and talent for commanding the strike zone during his 69-game rookie season in 2017, but he did not start regularly this year until mid-May, when multiple leg injuries to Yoenis Cespedes cleared space on the Mets' crowded outfield depth chart. Weeks of elite-level production followed, with Nimmo emerging as an All-Star candidate by posting a .905 OPS across May and June.
Though he wasn't selected to the Midsummer Classic (due to his bench role to start the year, Nimmo was not included on the fan ballot) Nimmo nonetheless became a fixture for the Mets, hitting all over the lineup and playing all three outfield positions. He ended up pacing the club in doubles (28), OPS (.888) and tied for the team lead in runs scored (77). Nimmo ranks among the NL leaders in on-base percentage (.404), walk rate (15 percent), wOBA (.385), weighted runs created plus (149) and fWAR (4.6).
"This has been a great year for me," Nimmo said. "There are a lot of positive things to look at, and a lot of things to build on, a lot of things I can get better at. That means there is still more potential for me, and room for improvement, and that's exciting, that I can become a better player."
By his own admission, Nimmo had hoped to avoid pondering his progress until after the weekend. But it became clear he wouldn't play in the Mets' season finale shortly after pain shot through his hamstring Saturday, which he called "a little bit what I would imagine a knife going into the back of the hamstring would feel like."
Nimmo hobbled, in obvious pain, back to first base, where Mets medical staff met him before helping him off the field.
"Running sounds pretty terrible to me right now, but we're hopeful this won't take too long and wont affect things headed into the offseason," Nimmo said. "It's been a great season. This isn't how you want it to end. There is never a good time for this to happen, but if it had to happen, I guess this is the best time. I'm really happy and proud of the season I had."