Michael Conforto is a former first-round pick who had a major impact in the Mets’ making it to the World Series in 2015. Additionally, has an All-Star appearance in 2017 to his credit. But he’s also been busted back to the minor leagues in 2016, suffered a serious shoulder injury and spent half of last season underperforming, whether due to being rushed back from injury or some other reason. In back-to-back years he played in exactly 109 games both seasons. One year he had a 1.0 fWAR and the other he had a 4.4 mark. Conforto followed those up with a 3.0 rate in 153 games last year.
A person who didn’t know anything about Conforto other than his stat page might throw up his hands and say, “Who knows?” if asked about what to expect in 2019. But Mets fans seem united in expecting good things. Of course, it’s fair to say that was the expectation in 2016, 2017 and 2018, too.
The optimistic case is that he was a star fulfilling his potential in 2017 before the shoulder injury. And that either the team or the player – or both – rushed him back too soon in 2018. From June 13 until the end of the season, Conforto had an .854 OPS with a .237 ISO and a .301 BABIP in 419 PA. And the numbers were even better if we start from the All-Star break, as he put up an .895 OPS in the second half of the year.
The pessimistic case is that for one reason or another he hasn’t been good for a full season, well, ever. And until he actually does it, there’s little reason to believe that he can. Sort of the Travis d’Arnaud thing, in a way.
So, what do the computer models predict?
Marcel – 563 PA, .250/.349/.461, 25 HR, 74 RBIs
Steamer – 637 PA, .244/.345/.454, 28 HR, 80 RBIs
They essentially see the same player, differing mainly on playing time. To me, it seems odd that they’re not forecasting more in the AVG department. Steamer shows him with a .288 BABIP, exactly what he did last year but below his career average in the category. In the second half of last year, Conforto had a .315 BABIP.
It also seems strange to me that Steamer has Conforto playing a full season and producing an RBI total below what he did last year, when he had an unremarkable 14.15 OBI%, which calculates what percentage of runs are driven in without giving credit for driving in yourself with a homer. For some comparisons, Lucas Duda had a 15.38 OBI% last year while Conforto himself had a 17.83 mark in 2017.
Here is my completely biased forecast for Conforto:
You’ll have more credibility in the future if you chime in now with what you think Conforto will do this year. Plus, I’m curious to see how optimistic my forecast is compared to the rest of you.
Next week Noah Syndergaard will be under the forecast microscope.