With Michael Conforto’s continuing success, perhaps it is time to examine why he has been so good this year for the Mets.
Last season, Conforto’s April was other worldly. His soft contact rate was 16.7%. May was a different story and thus began his oft-talked about struggles – His soft contact rate in May was 17.5%. The big drop off was his hard contact rate which went from 51.7% in April to 38.6% in May.
This year, he has followed up his great April with an even better May. His hard contact rate in April was 36.4% and in May it has been at 53.5%. He had a 169 wRC+ in April and has a 185 wRC+ in May.
Last year on the whole, Conforto struck out 25.6% of the time compared to 24.5% of the time this year. That 1.1% decrease in strikeouts is not the reason why he went from a Triple-A player to a MVP candidate, though.
Between this year and last year, he is putting the ball in play at roughly the same rate. Last year, Conforto hit 63.8% of his batted balls in the air. His exit velocity on balls in the air last year was 93 MPH. This year he’s hitting 62.7% of his batted balls in the air and those have an average exit velocity of 96.2 MPH. That is roughly the same as teammate Yoenis Cespedes, who is famous for hitting the ball very hard.
Conforto is also barreling the ball at a higher rate that last year. This year his barrels to batted ball events is at 14.9%, good for 12th in the league among hitters with at least 80 batted ball events. Last year he barreled the ball 10.6% of the time. His barrel to plate appearance ratio is 9.5%, good for 15th in the league among people with 80 batted ball events. Last year that number was 6.6%.
His ability to draw walks has been terrific too. His Weighted On Base Average is .443 compared to .312 last year. His overall OBP is .417 this year compared to .310 last season. His walk rate was 10.3% last year compared to 12.2% this year. Our own Matthew Brownstein tweeted that Conforto took 141 plate appearances to draw his 19th walk but took 204 plate appearances to draw his 19th walk last year.
Conforto leads all qualified left fielders in OBP, slugging percentage, and wOBA. He is second in wRC+ and fWAR and is third in batting average. You can make a solid argument that he has been the best left fielder in the National League (as our own Logan Barer does here).
Conforto’s season has been very promising after working all winter to fix his swing. He has won a starting outfield job despite the crowded presence of veteran outfielders. If he keeps this up, he will be in Miami this July as an All-Star. He seems to be getting better every day for the Mets. Let’s hope he sustains this success.