The Mets are currently 7-6 and while that is a good record for early April, it could be better. One of the areas of concern for the Mets is their lineup, namely the lead-off spot and the lower part of the order.
Jay Bruce and Lucas Duda have performed very well thus far and Yoenis Cespedes is a star for a reason. Neil Walker has a strong track record and showed positive signs Sunday, yet those four need help.
There is one answer the Mets can try that they have not tried consistently yet: Play Michael Conforto every day.
So far in 2017, Conforto has hit .353/.409/.765 with two home runs and six RBIs in 17 at bats (22 plate appearances). He has produced and the Mets need to find a way to get him in the lineup by any means necessary.
Granderson has struggled thus far and while Jay Bruce has been one of the best offensive performers, his hot streak will likely end at some point. Granderson can sit for the time being and when Bruce cools off, he can play in place of Bruce more. It is imperative for Conforto to start at least 5 times a week. He could be the solution at leadoff for the Mets or he could hit in the middle of the order and lengthen the lineup. Regardless, he must play.
Can Conforto lead off? Most likely, yes. He works the count better than Jose Reyes and his OBP would be much better than Jose’s. At this point I know what’s on your mind; Conforto’s 2016 struggles. Yeah, outside of his April, Conforto was pretty bad last season. There is no getting around it. He had a 6 wRC+ in June, yet I think there are reasons to consider as to why he struggled so mightily.
For starters he had a wrist injury and its severity was never known. There is no denying the impact a wrist injury can have on a player. For example, it can decrease a player’s bat speed dramatically. Conforto’s swing so far has looked more like the swing we saw in 2015 and not the one in the Summer of 2016.
Another reason for his struggles could be a lack of luck. A FanGraphs article talked about Conforto and his lack of success when it came to barreling baseballs. Conforto was one of the best players at barreling baseballs. He barreled them 10.8% of the time. Number one on that list for people with at least 70 batted ball events? David Wright with 20.3%.
Conforto produced below average results on his barreled balls. Someone who produced the same barreled ball rate as Conforto was Jedd Gyorko. Gyorko had a .243/.306/.495 and a 111 wRC+ with 30 home runs. While Gyorko’s slash line is not great, we can say he had a better season than Conforto. A large reason is Gyorko produced 3.7 bases per barrel (he hit a lot of home runs per barreled ball). Conforto’s was 2.14 bases per barrel. In fact, Conforto even had a higher exit velocity on barreled balls than Gyorko.
Conforto is doing all he can to put his struggles behind him and remind the Mets why he’s the future of the team. So far, the results have shown for the young outfielder. The Mets and Terry Collins should reward him for his great play. Collins has often said, “You hit, you play.” Well, Conforto has hit, so he should play. The Mets must free Michael Conforto and let him help the team like he is capable of.