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Brandon Nimmo looks to expand his role with the Mets in 2018

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The young outfielder showed promising signs at the end of last season and should see more at-bats with Michael Conforto sidelined to start the year.

MLB: Cincinnati Reds at New York Mets Andy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports

In light of Michael Conforto’s continuing recovery from shoulder surgery, Brandon Nimmo should be seeing more at-bats for the Mets to start the 2018 season. After a brief cup of coffee in 2016, the former first-round draft pick made a strong first impression with the Mets last season. In less than half of a big league season, Nimmo accrued 1.1 fWAR with a very solid 117 wRC+, displaying the same patient eye at the plate he showed as a prospect.

I wrote about why Nimmo is a potential breakout candidate for the Mets in 2018. His on-base skills make him a good choice to be a leadoff hitter on a roster that lacks an obvious fit for the role. However, Mike Puma recently reported that the early indication is that Juan Lagares will get the majority of the playing time in center field, which would mean that the Mets may try a variety of players in the leadoff spot.

In some ways, an understandable choice. Juan Lagares may stand to have a breakout year himself. And while Nimmo put up very good defensive numbers in left field last season, whether he can be a good defensive center fielder is still an open question.

Both Steamer and PECOTA predict more pedestrian offensive numbers from Nimmo than what he showed last season. Steamer projects a .241/.333/.371 line with a 92 wRC+ and 0.6 WAR in 325 plate appearances, while PECOTA projects a .245/.340/.379 slash line and 0.8 WARP also in 325 plate appearances. So while both systems think Nimmo can sustain his strong OBP, they seem skeptical of his ability to produce power.

Eno Sarris recently painted a more optimistic picture of the player Nimmo could be for the Mets. It is certainly true that 2018 is shaping up to be a very important season for the newly married Brandon Nimmo and he may be a key component for the team’s success this season if he can seize the opportunities he is given.