Michael Conforto will be a key to the 2019 season

Outfielder Michael Conforto under performed in the first half of 2018 for the Mets, followed by a very good second half. Which Conforto can we expect in 2019, the bad hitter of the first half or the sweet-swinging slugger of the second half?

Looking at his first half through the FanGraphs splits tool, we see he posted a .216/.344/.366 slash line, pretty dreadful. However he rebounded smartly for the second half with marks of .273/.356/.539. Put the two halves together and his slash line for the season was .243/.350/.448. To a certain extent in 2018, when Conforto played well, the team played well, and vice-versa when he did not play well. The Mets second half record was considerably better than their first half record. Also Conforto’s worst month was June with a .198 BA, and the Mets won only five games that month in their worst month of the season.

Conforto was the Mets’ first round draft selection in 2014, and he did not spend much time in the minors. He was called up to the big club in 2015, just in time to help the Mets in their successful pennant drive. He regressed some in 2016, even spending some time at the triple A level.

Conforto really seemed to come into his own in 2017 with a .279/.384/.555 slash line, with 27 homers. However that season was cut short when he suffered a nasty shoulder injury in August while swinging and missing a pitch. That injury caused him to play in only 109 games that year.

Several reports have indicated that his shoulder may not have been totally healed when he returned to action in 2018, probably playing a big part in his miserable start. However, since he stepped it up in the second half, it is reasonable to assume that the shoulder is close to normal or perhaps fully healed. That would certainly be a very encouraging sign.

With Yoenis Cespedes expected to be on the shelf for half or even more of the 2019 season, the Mets will be counting on Conforto to be the main power hitter in the lineup. Had Conforto not been hurt in 2017, he likely would have ended the year with a home run total in the upper 30s or maybe even 40 dingers, and hopefully that is what we see in 2019.

Conforto has good discipline at the plate, thus his good OBP figures. He is not a one dimensional pull hitter, he can go with the pitch and he is strong enough to hit homers to the opposite field. He fits well into the number three slot in the batting order, a spot made for a high OBP/SLG batter. Conforto turns 26 in 2019, which means he is heading into the normal peak years of production for ballplayers.

The Mets were run-challenged in 2018, when the team scored 676 runs, finishing 12th out of the 15 teams in the NL. A full season of the good Conforto would do a lot to upgrade the offense for 2019.

9 comments for “Michael Conforto will be a key to the 2019 season

  1. Pete from NJ
    November 13, 2018 at 10:28 am

    Of course he’s the real offensive star of the team. Hearing that he is a prospective trade chip in a Realmuto move gives me concern. Knowing to get value in a trade you must give value and moving a left hitting corner outfielder and a plus but losing a fan favorite?

  2. TexasGusCC
    November 13, 2018 at 10:54 am

    John, to expand Pete’s point, I found it difficult to pick between Nimmo and Conforto if one were to be traded. I like them both, but if I could only have one, I’d pick Conforto because he’s a more rounded hitter, but it’s awfully close as each player has different strengths.

    I agree with Pete that trading one of these guys for Realmuto is a waste since he only has two years of control remaining, and while Fangraphs expects a team to empty out the top three of their farm system for Derek Jeter, I think he should be happy with three good prospects for two years of a very good catcher. I’d give Dunn, Giminez and Dom Smith and if he brings up one of our outfielders I’d tell him what the Braves told him: Ramos, Grandal and Maldonado are free agents.

    • John Fox
      November 13, 2018 at 8:20 pm

      I’d keep both Conforto and Nimmo as a big part of the foundation for the next few years

  3. Pete from NJ
    November 13, 2018 at 1:40 pm

    And the Boras factor is in play here. There seems to be real animosity between the parties with young Michael becoming collateral damage.

    I hope not but we’ll see.

  4. November 13, 2018 at 9:09 pm

    I don’t want a Catcher if I’m sacrificing major talent— The Offensive Shelf Life, especially in the NL (with no DH Nights) is too short.

    It especially doesn’t make sense for the Mets to trade Performing MLB Talent for Realmuto….and it makes less for the Marlins to take Conforto, because he’s gonna start getting paid soon. Miami is probably aiming for near ready and deep Organizational Plums.

    The big Realmuto Guys Here—were you guys screaming for Lucroy 2 years ago?

    The recent trade Rumors, this one and Kluber, make absolutely no sense.

    • TJ
      November 13, 2018 at 10:17 pm

      It comes down to price. Realmuto is clearly the best catcher of those “available”, and he excels offensively and defensively. I would love him on the team at a managable cost. The problem is the other teams interested in him have more highly ranked prospects to offer, namely the Braves and the Astros. The Mets may be able to match the bid, but it would empty the cupboard.

      I’d keep Conforto over Nimmo, even though Nimmo has an extra year of control and is not represented by Boras. While he has been up and down, Conforto offers that middle of the order power bat which gives him the edge. If a package of Nimmo, Dunn, and Gimenez brought back Realmuto for two controllable seasons, I’d be very tempted, but that is the max.

    • Mike Walczak
      November 14, 2018 at 12:56 pm

      I dont want to see them trade Conforto or Nimmo for Realmuto. You add one and delete one. How much overall did you improve ?

  5. Metsense
    November 13, 2018 at 10:49 pm

    The 2017 Conforto was a very good player. The 2016 season and first half of 2018 he was below average. He needs to show much more consistency. I would not trade him because the Mets have control of him for the next three years and also the intoxicating potential shown in the shorten 2017 season. I believe he can duplicate his 2017 slash line of 279/384/555/939 in 2019.

  6. MattyMets
    November 14, 2018 at 8:54 pm

    At the same time Conforto was working his way back from a shoulder injury he had no lineup protection thanks to injuries. The Mets once had another outfielder who, due to injuries or slumps never seemed to put together two good halfs – Strawberry. Hopefully Conforto can do it this year. It would help to have Cespedes protecting him in the lineup, but that wil be missing, at least in the first half.

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