Michael Conforto breaks out at home, prime players struggle, Philly matchup

Michael Conforto has homered in three straight games, two behind the club record of five straight contests, set by Richard Hidalgo back in 2004, when three of them came against the Yankees. Conforto hit his first two against the Phillies and then last night’s blast came against the Marlins. But Conforto’s hot hitting extends further than just three games. Since the All-Star break, he has an .857 OPS in 206 PA. In the first half of the season, Conforto managed just a .710 mark.

The homers in three straight games are nice but what’s really significant about them is that they all came at Citi Field. Home has been anything but friendly for Conforto this year. Even with this latest outburst, he has just a .641 OPS at Citi Field this year, compared to an .874 mark on the road. His away numbers match his output from 2017 near perfectly, as he had an .871 OPS last year. But the difference in his home numbers are striking. A season ago, Conforto had a 1.000 OPS with a .298 ISO. This year, it’s just a .143 ISO in Citi.

The offensive struggles in Citi Field extend far beyond Conforto. As a team, the Mets have an OPS 120 points lower at home than on the road. Three of the top four hitters on the club in home OPS have been out of action for months and the fourth, Jeff McNeil, has just 70 PA. Brandon Nimmo is the only player with significant ABs in Citi with an OPS over .800 and that’s just barely, as he has an .818 mark. Four players with at least 100 PA have a lower mark than Conforto and Adrian Gonzalez missed making that five by a total of seven PA.

PRIME PLAYERS STRUGGLE – Baseball-Reference has age-based splits, with four classifications. The first is those 25 and under, essentially guys getting established in the majors. Next is 26-30, which should be the prime of a player’s career. Then comes 31-35, which is the beginning of the end. Finally is 36 and up, when most players are running on fumes. In three of the four categories, the numbers on the Mets are virtually indistinguishable from one another. The outlier is the players from age 26-30. But instead of standing out in a good way, these prime players have just a .670 OPS, which ranks 14th in the National League.

The only reason the prime players numbers aren’t worse is because of McNeil. So, what happened? Nimmo was Sandy Alderson’s first pick and he’s 25. The Mets went more with high school hitters in their early top picks under Alderson. Omar Minaya sacrificed some top picks to sign free agents, went pitching with others and the less said about his high school hitters, the better. And this is another area where the Mets’ failure in international signings shows up. Neither Wilmer Flores nor Juan Lagares – the offensive success stories – have been able to establish themselves as regulars.

LONG-TIME CURSE HURTS – The Mets currently have nine players on the 60-day disabled list. Is this a lot? Don’t know – it seems like a lot. Let’s check to see how the other NL East clubs fare in this department: Braves – 9; Marlins – 5; Nationals – 3; Phillies – 0. Of course it’s not just quantity, it’s quality. The Mets are without Yoenis Cespedes. The best player on the shelf for the Braves is Aroyds Vizcaino. Four of the nine players the Mets have on this list – Cespedes, David Wright, AJ Ramos and Juan Lagares – pull down a combined $64.725 million – ouch.

CAN’T GET NO RELIEF – Everyone knows the Mets’ bullpen has been bad and last night was no exception, as two relievers allowed three runs in two innings pitched. But, just how bad has it been? Despite being below average in innings pitched – because of the strength of most of the starters – the relievers rank dead last in the National League in fWAR with a (-1.4) mark. Overall, 14 different relievers who pitched for the club posted a negative fWAR, led by Hansel Robles and his (-0.7) mark. Theoretically, the Mets could get seven freely available pitchers and assemble a better pen. That’s better than paying multi millions to Anthony (-0.5 fWAR) Swarzak and then have him make his first appearance since being activated from the DL be in a one-run game.

NO LUCK AGAINST NOLA – In recent years, the Mets have owned the Phillies. And this year was more of the same, even though the Phillies were up and the Mets were down. The Mets are 10-6 against the Phillies, with three games to play. Hopefully, they won’t square off against Aaron Nola in the last series. Nola is 4-0 against the Mets this year with a 1.97 ERA. They did manage to beat the Phillies in Nola’s first start, as he was removed after just five innings and the Mets made hay against the Philly pen. So, the Mets are 1-4 in Nola starts and 9-2 against the rest.

5 comments for “Michael Conforto breaks out at home, prime players struggle, Philly matchup

  1. September 12, 2018 at 11:01 am

    Can we assume Conforto came back too soon? And is healthier now? The bullpen is just awful. Can we expect the team to sign a decent closer (Familia?). Finally can the FO stop rewarding pitchers who have had success in the pen. Its a a high risk low reward gamble they can ill afford. I say this every year. Its not who’s on the DL. But how much salary is tied up there. Keep signing aging home run hitters in a pitchers park. How is that being logical? This team is not that far away from being competitive. I just think they need their key players on the field for at least 90% of the time. What’s the point of shoring up the defense when the pen gives up gopher balls extraordinaire? No defense for that.
    Brian still not getting confirmations to my email.

    • September 12, 2018 at 12:30 pm

      I’d be more likely to believe he came back too soon if he didn’t hit at all in the first half. But he had a 36-game stretch where he had an .828 OPS. Maybe not up to last year’s standards but significantly better than his overall first half numbers. His final 23 games of the first half, he was hitting for neither AVG (.169) nor power (.112 ISO). I wouldn’t rule it out completely but it seems to me that answer is just a little too convenient.

      As for you emails – I have no answer for you. No settings have changed on my end. I’d suggest looking at your end.

  2. Metsense
    September 12, 2018 at 8:28 pm

    I was beginning to be suspicious Conforto as I thought the league must be solved him. Thank goodness the haven’t .
    In 2019, the prime players may struggle because only Nimmo will graduate into class. Conforto, Rosario, Alonso and Gimeniz are pre prime. This is why I’m so optimistic (and deGrom,Wheeler and Syndergaard of course).
    $64.725 million – ouch
    I’m going to harp all winter that Mets sign a set up sign and a closer as good as when Reed and Familia held those spots. The money should spent if they want to win the division.
    Just shit in the Phillies shish kabob and establish winning culture.
    Boy I like reading your articles.

  3. Steevy
    September 12, 2018 at 9:41 pm

    I don’t get why Nimmo gets dropped down batting fifth or below for this last month plus.

  4. Madman
    September 12, 2018 at 10:13 pm

    I’m betting the Mets sign one of Murphy,Donaldson and McCutcheon to a two year deal. Aging power hitters , poor defensive players, and a ball park not conducive to sluggers. Let’s hope I’m wrong.

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