In his final 60 games of 2019, Michael Conforto had a .913 OPS. In his first 42 games of last year, he had a .926 mark. So, what happened in the middle of the year? In the May 16 game, the one that ended the opening hot streak, Conforto collided with Robinson Cano and ended up with a concussion. He returned in 10 days but the middle third of the season, he was just a shell of himself. Instead of performing at an All-Star level, Conforto was below average, with a .729 OPS.

Since he hit well in an extended stretch to end the year, it’s a slam dunk for a prime-age player to put up the numbers from the beginning and end of the season over a full year, right? Ordinarily that might be the conclusion. But with Conforto, it’s always something. There were the unexpected struggles in 2016 after his strong debut in the pennant-winning year. There was the shoulder injury that interrupted the breakout year of 2017 and contributed to a miserable start in 2018. And now the concussion that torpedoed 2019.

Gamblers always bet the streak. Let’s say a team has won five games in a row. You bet them to win the sixth and if they win the sixth, you bet them to win the seventh. The logic is pretty easy. As long as you bet the streak, you have a chance to go on a roll. If the team ends up winning 10 straight games and you hopped on at the sixth – you amassed five straight winning bets. If you bet against the streak, the best you can do is one win.

We’ve seen four consecutive years where Conforto has failed to hit like we expected over a full season, with the last two coming over 153 and 151 games. Now, he was good in three of the four years but Mets fans (if not all baseball fans) expected him to be better than that. So, what should we expect in 2020? Let’s see what the computer models forecast:

ATC – 623 PA, .256/.359/.500, 33 HR, 89 RBIs
Marcel – 588 PA, .259/.361/.494, 30 HR, 83 RBIs
Steamer – 603 PA, .251/.358/.490, 31 HR, 85 RBIs
THE BAT – 602 PA, .259/.359/.491, 30 HR, 84 RBIs
ZiPS – 607 PA, .256/.361/.492, 31 HR, 96 RBIs

You can’t get more unanimity on the triple slash and HR categories than you do here. And it’s not like there’s a lot of varied projections in PA or RBIs, either. The computer models don’t know and don’t care about the 2016 BABIP or the shoulder or concussion injuries. They just look at what he’s done and five different systems see a guy with an expected OPS right around .855 here in 2020.

Again, that’s a really solid year. Steamer sees Conforto putting up a 3.1 fWAR while ZiPS sees him at a 3.4 mark. If Pete Alonso and Jeff McNeil can repeat what they did a year ago, that leaves Conforto and Brandon Nimmo fighting for third and fourth banana on the Mets. And a 3-3.5 fWAR is just fine in that spot. Last year the Nationals’ third-best offensive player was Trea Turner with a 3.5 fWAR and their fourth-best was Howie Kendrick with a 2.9 mark.

It’s just that we thought Conforto was going to be a first banana type of player in his prime.

In the 20th Century, conventional wisdom was that you batted your best hitter third in the lineup. Modern thought is that while lineup placement is generally overrated, the ideal spot for your best hitter is second in the order. Regardless of where you come down on batting order placement, it’s unlikely you would put Conforto in that spot. At this point in time, it seems more likely that McNeil or Nimmo will bat second, while Alonso or Cano will hit third. My order for Opening Day would have him hitting fifth.

Here’s my totally biased forecast for Conforto:

590 PA
35 HR
95 RBIs

You’ll have more credibility if you chime in now with what you think Conforto will do this year. Next up to undergo the forecast microscope will be Rick Porcello.

21 comments on “Mets 2020 projections: Michael Conforto

  • Boomboom

    38 HR
    101 RBIs

    All star selection

  • Michael Koehler

    I don’t see him as a regular high-average hitter, but adequate with plenty of power and able to draw walks. .260 average with 29 home runs. We had dreams of him becoming a superstar player, but at age 27, I’d settle for having a borderline All-Star regular. Hope they can sign him to a fair, long-term deal.

  • MattyMets

    I think Conforto willl put up very similar number to 2019. A very good, but not great year interrupted by an injury or cold streak. I hope we lock him up long term, but my concern is that Boras will try to get him paid like a superstar which he is not. 5/100 sure, but 7/200 no way.

    I like him batting cleanup after McNeil and Alonso, followed by Davis/Cespedes. That’s a potent meat of the order.

  • Eraff

    The fact is that Conforto is an incredibly ordinary player versus Lefties with a sub 700 OPS performance. He gets 5 abs every day, and he shouldn’t with that performance.

    My opinion is that he’s Sold Out on HR Power, and I believe he’d find himself with a more balanced approach. He’ll make an incredible amount of money doing just what he’s doing, so I’m becoming less optimistic that he will reach a decision to change.

    He’s a very nice player….. it’s tough to criticize the overall production, but I think he could be more.

  • JImO

    I think that shoulder injury was really a freaky type of thing. I think that he should have a solid year.

    31 HRs
    95 RBIs

  • José

    If you remove that middle third (or however long that deadspot was) and extrapolate the leftovers to all of 2019, what would Conforto’s final numbers have been like?

    That would be my projection for 2020.

    This may have been my best non-answer ever!

    • Brian Joura

      Jose – did you see the comment I made yesterday on the Wednesday catch-all thread? B-R is having a free preview of their Play Index tool through the end of April. I thought you might enjoy playing around with that as sometimes you have questions that can be answered with searches there.

      • José

        Thanks for the recommendation, Bri, but that assumes I have the ability/skills to undertake such a study myself. I’m a mathematician, dammit, not a statistician!

  • footballhead

    After five years, I’m over the hype over Conforto. Yes injuries have slowed him down, but it’s part of the game although he’s another example of the horrible track record the Mets have on dealing with injured players. He’ll be injured/ineffective about 1/4 of the season….if Eraff is correct, maybe he should sit versus lefties.

    HR 31 RBI 85 AVG .265 Solid player but not an All-Star.

  • TexasGusCC

    Two months ago, I wrote that only once has Conforto had a BIBIP over .300 (.302, I believe?) and he is on the Daniel Murphy track. Hence:

    .315/.395/.545: MVP candidate.
    36 HR, 100 R, 128 RBI
    .371 BABIP, Lady Luck owes him.

  • Pete

    What the computer forecasts fail to understand is that this is his ‘walk” year. I expect a lot more from Conforto. For him millions are riding on the outcome of 2020. With that being said if he remains healthy I expect big things from him.
    PA 600
    BA .295/365/535
    HR 37
    RBI 105

    • TexasGusCC

      Pete, earliest free agent is 2022 for Conforto. But, he says that he’s open to an extension and he will make the call, not Boras.

  • Pete

    Thx Gus

  • Peter

    I get the GM ego and I get “value” but teams can harm themselves by not putting the most productive 8 on the field.

    • TexasGusCC

      Peter, this is just another person’s opinion. Cano actually was pretty decent against righties and better in the second half. While there isn’t a single Mets fan that prefers him over other options, I’m willing to give him a chance provided he bats lower in the lineup and gets the same treatment as the other players.

  • Edwin e Pena

    MC will hit .270, 33 HR’s with 100 RBI.
    Those will be his core stats while hitting 5th and sometimes 4th.
    All the new fangled analytics numbers be damned, this is what his core will be and he will be clutch.
    Very good in RF also. He is heading toward a contract year and is steady as they come. I will hate to see him go after this year, but with the Pain in the Butt Boras being his agent, well, he may not be a Met for long.
    Let’s enjoy him while we can and appreciate his talents. Maybe he’ll consider a hometown discount when the contract is up.

  • Eraff

    I’d like some feedback on my statement that He has a 700 OPS against Lefties. No matter that I believe he could address that with a different Approach that would make him better against all splits,,,,,, if he’s a 700 ops against lefties, maybe he shouldn’t be guaranteed starts against lefties.

    I saw a top 10 hitter when I first saw MC…I’m a big fan of that perception. He’s less than He could be…a nice player, but everyone gets 80/90 or so Ribbies starting 155 games in the middle of a Major League Lineup

    • Brian Joura

      It makes more sense to platoon Conforto than it does to platoon Nimmo, which for some reason people are eager to do.

      Still, I wouldn’t platoon Conforto. He’s been ok versus them the last three years (.747 OPS) after being dismal against them in 2015-16. Also, his K rate against LHP has gone from 37.6 to 30.9 to 25.9 the last three years.

      As a Kole Calhoun fantasy owner, I can tell you not everyone gets 80+ RBIs playing every day and batting in the middle of the order. He had 632 PA last year and 74 RBIs.

      • Eraff

        I won’t argue that Canforto batted almost exclusively 2/3/4, while Calhoun considerable ab’s at 1/6/7. I won’t point out that Calhoun had just 8 rbi in almost 130 PA’s as a number 4 hitter…even a 740 OPS (batting 4) should get you more–something else was not happening in that lineup when he was 4th.

        I will argue that you did an absurd amount of research to refute my statement.

        • Brian Joura

          No research was necessary. I’m a Calhoun fantasy owner.

  • Metsense

    Conforto has been a very consisted outfielder in fWAR for last three years and two of three years he was ranked in the top ten outfieders of the NL. The Mets should extend him now and not wait.
    PA. 598
    HR. 32
    RBI. 94

    I hope his injury from last Saturday heals quickly.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *