Whether you chalk it up to coming back from a serious shoulder injury or not having protection in the lineup with Yoenis Cespedes, Jay Bruce and Todd Frazier injured, there’s no denying that Michael Conforto‘s performance through the first three and a half months of the season has been a major disappointment. The 25-year-old outfielder is batting .215 and has driven in just 26 runs thus far. And it’s not getting better as he’s batting .198 over his last 30 games and .146 over his last 15. Can he still salvage this season?
Two years ago when he struggled at the plate the Mets sent Conforto down to the minors to work out his swing. Last year, before a freak injury cut his season short, he looked like a star in the making, slashing .279/.384/.555 with 27 home runs in just 373 at bats. With three outfielders – Bruce, Cespedes and, oh yeah, remember Juan Lagares? – on the disabled list, and nobody worth mentioning in AAA, a demotion is not really an option this time.
At times, Conforto looks like he’s late on the ball and at times it looks like he’s having trouble squaring it up, missing or fouling off fat fastballs he should be crushing. On the positive side, he’s drawing walks at a career high rate and still has a solid .342 on base percentage. He also has 10 home runs. After time off for the All-Star break, Conforto should soon get some protection in the lineup again. Hitting between power hitters Cespedes, Bruce and Frazier will allow him to see more fastballs and strikes. If he can start making more solid contact, the hits will drop and his batting average will come up.
According to hitting coach Pat Roessler, Conforto is thisclose to regaining his swing. “We’re getting closer and closer and I really think he’s going to get back pretty soon,” he told the NY Post. Let’s hope he’s right because it would make the remainder of the season a little more watchable.
A solid last two months of the season will not only make the back of Conforto’s baseball card look a little better, but it will give the Mets coaches and front office reassurance that he can continue being part of the team in the seasons to come.