New York Mets: Michael Conforto, Backbone of the Outfield (and Lineup)

Daniel Marcillo
Aug 9, 2019; New York City, NY, USA; New York Mets center fielder Michael Conforto (30) is congratulated by manager Mickey Callaway (36) after hitting a walk off RBI single to beat the Washington Nationals 7-6 at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

Even with the possibility of a universal designated hitter, the New York Mets still have several different outfielders they can plug in and out of the lineup. With constant change throughout, Michael Conforto has the be the one constant the Mets have in their outfield.

Conforto suffered a grade one oblique strain during spring training, and it was supposed to keep him out for part of April. The season delay plays in his favor since he can rehab the injury without the rush to get back on the field. After his shoulder injury in the 2017 season, he has played at least 150 games in the following two seasons.

Why Conforto is Important

It seems odd to think about him as a veteran, but he is at this point in his career. Despite only 27 years old, he is a former All-Star, heading into his sixth season and is one of the six remaining Mets from the 2015 World Series roster. He has also visited the lowest of lows personally and team-wise. Conforto had to recover from the troubling shoulder surgery and played in almost every game from a disappointing 2018 season.

He has also played at least 145 games in every outfield position but has made a home in right field after beginning his career in left field. His consistency as a left-handed power presence is also something the Mets need. Brandon Nimmo, Robinson Cano, and Jeff McNeil are all critical parts of the Mets lineup but do not carry the power presence of Conforto.

Over the last three seasons, Conforto is hitting .257/.363/.492 and is averaging 29 home runs and 81 RBIs over that period. Digging deeper into the stats, he also led the Mets in average batted-ball distance. Out of all players in the Mets lineup, he will play the most against same sided pitchers. The power numbers drop against left-handers, but the average is enough to keep him in the lineup.

The win/loss splits are also telling of Conforto’s importance. In 2019 victories, he put up an MVP slash line of .330/.443/.642 while in Mets losses, he dropped mightily to .181/.274/.341. No other Met on the roster has a split this dramatic, and J.D. Davis is the only one who comes close.

Conforto’s previous teams show he is on the brink of superstardom, and in the words of Reggie Jackson, he is “the straw that stirs the drink.”