Even with his June struggles and wrist injury, Michael Conforto grades out as the best offensive LF in baseball. His OBP ranks first among all left fielders and his slugging his second only to Cody Bellinger. Among advanced stats such as wOBA and wRC+, he is first by a fairly decent margin. Conforto and Marcell Ozuna will likely be the primary contenders for the Silver Slugger Award. Conforto has the much better OBP, slugging percentage, and their difference in the advanced stats heavily favor Conforto. However, Ozuna has RBI and batting average to his acumen so he could easily win too. Conforto produces outs at a much lower rate than Ozuna and he’s a lead off hitter so his RBI total will not be all that high anyway.
One of the reasons Conforto slumped so much in June was due to his lack of pitches seen in the zone. Conforto only saw 38 percent of pitches throw his way in the strike zone. As a result, he was not expecting to see strikes and as a result, only swung at 54.6 percent of pitches in the zone. That number was 67.7 percent in May, arguably his best month of the season.
Some of the best hitters in baseball struggle to see pitches in the zone. Aaron Judge for example, only saw 37.9% of pitches in the zone but was still able to make contact on 67.4 percent of the pitches he did end up seeing in the zone.
You could hear the murmurs of Mets fans during the month of June. Many worried if Conforto is struggling again and thought maybe he will never be the player the Mets could build around. On top of a mini-slump, Conforto also got hit in the wrist by a pitch. Last year, Conforto had a lingering injury which certainly contributed to his struggles.
He came back right around the break and went down to the Miami for the All-Star game. During the game, he was seen chatting with Joey Votto. Votto is the king is attacking pitches in the zone while still drawing his walks. Some of his seasons very early in his career, are reminiscent of Conforto’s current one. His second full season in the big leagues, he slashed .322/.414/.567 with a 155 wRC+. Conforto is currently slashing .294/.408/.581 with a 157 wRC+.
Whatever Votto whispered in his ear must have worked for Conforto as well as the advice he received from Kevin Long. So far in the second half, Conforto is slashing .350/.435/.800 with five home runs and walking at a rate of 13 percent. He is still only seeing 39.8 percent of pitches in the zone but unlike in June, he’s swinging at 66.7 percent of them.
This is now two years since Conforto debuted for the Mets. He has broken out for the Mets this season and in a huge way. The only players in baseball with a high wRC+ than Conforto are Carlos Correa, George Springer, Jose Altuve, Bryce Harper, Justin Turner, and Aaron Judge. The only players with a higher OPS than Conforto are Votto, Charlie Blackmon, Turner, Harper, and Judge.
He has established himself as one of the best hitters in baseball quickly and has rebounded very well form last season. He is still just 24 and is still growing as a player. Watching him develop as a high caliber player and a very well spoken member of the Mets clubhouse has been a joy to watch.
Thoughts from Joe D.
Back in April, I wrote an article simply titled, A Star Is Born. In it I proposed that this could be the true breakthrough season that would launch Michael Conforto among the biggest young stars in baseball. Some may have felt I was premature in making such a claim, but I’m certain that everyone is on board with it now.
Only 24, Conforto isn’t just having a breakthrough season in 2017, but he is on pace to have one of the best seasons we’ve ever seen from a Mets position player.
If the season were to end today, Conforto would rank No. 6 all-time with a .982 OPS and No. 6 all-time with a .578 Slugging Percentage.
But what makes this all the more exciting is that given the current trends for Conforto, who has completely elevated his production since July 1, it is very conceivable that he could finish fourth all-time in OPS with a .986 mark leaving only Mike Piazza (1.024, 1.012) and John Olerud (.998) ahead of him.
And in Slugging Percentage, Conforto could easily finish at .595 to zoom past Darryl Strawberry (.583) and Carlos Beltran (,594), leaving just Bobby Bonilla (.599) and Piazza (.607, .614) ahead of him.
It just makes you wonder with excitement and amazement at what Michael Conforto can do once he begins to enter his prime years of production. Right now, what we are seeing is just the tip of the iceberg,