New York Mets Player Evaluations: Right Fielder Michael Conforto

New York Yankees, New York Mets

The New York Mets got everything they could have asked for from Michael Conforto during the shortened 2020 season. Conforto amazed for the entire year and proved why he deserves an extension from new owner Steve Cohen. To put his season in perspective, his average dropped to .286 after ten games, and that was the lowest it got all season.

With 25 home runs in each of the last three years, there was no doubt that Conforto possessed good power. He has shown the ability to hit for a high average, only at .253 for his career coming into the season. Conforto came in with the approach that made him a highly-touted prospect back in 2015.

He sacrificed an abundance of home runs to put together more base hits. Conforto’s average launch angle in 2019 was 16 degrees, but it dropped to 11 in 2020. This resulted in Conforto putting together the lowest flyball and highest line drive percentage of his career. Conforto’s numbers prospered by hitting .322/.412/.515; all three were the highest of his career.

The adjustments were noticeable in his swing because teams could not shift against him anymore. Conforto had a .423 wOBA against the shit, and he consistently looked to use the entire field whether or not there was a shift. His power is legitimate, which resulted in the high slugging percentage because he can home from foul pole to foul pole. Another key part of Conforto’s strong season was his .284/.376/.486 slash line against lefties compared to .241/.316/.385 in the previous season.

Mets Go How Conforto Goes

Conforto’s success was in correlation with the Mets’ success. His average in wins was .419 compared to just .250 in losses, with seven of his nine homers coming in Mets victories. Conforto’s defense in the outfield also made a key difference in Mets wins. Despite some metrics rank his mobility below average, his throwing ability/tough play ability balance those out. Overall he is a solid right fielder who should get a chance in center field if the Mets do not sign a capable defender.

Overall, Conforto had an All-Star and fringe MVP caliber year. Among NL leaders, he finished sixth in batting average (.322), sixth in on-base percentage (.412), and seventh in hits (65). He deserves a contract extension and has turned the corner at the right time as he moves towards his career’s prime years.

2020 Grades On 20-80 Scale (2021 Projection)

Hitting: 80 (65), Still, a major question if he can hit over .300 for a full season, but he showed all the signs of becoming a complete hitter.

Power: 65 (65), The power numbers were right on part with the past two seasons. The most consistent part of his game.

Run: 35 (30), Lost some speed this season, which resulted in his lack of outfield range.

Arm: 70 (70), Six outfield assists, 3.3 ARM (Outfield Arm runs above average), which allows him to remain a capable outfielder.

Field: 55 (50), He will catch what he can get to and is fearless when making the tough plays.

Overall: 75 (70), Conforto’s best season in the big league, and excited to see what 2021 has in store for him.

 

Michael Conforto would ‘love’ to stay with the New York Mets

New York Yankees, New York Mets

The New York Mets have quietly assembled a feared lineup. They have a pretty good combination of young stars (Dominic Smith, Pete Alonso, Jeff McNeil, Brandon Nimmo and company) and established veterans, like Robinson Cano. Michael Conforto, who is somewhere in between if we evaluate age and MLB experience, may be the key for the unit’s long-term success.

The lefty-hitting outfielder will be a free agent after the 2021 season, which makes him eligible for a contract extension that could surpass $100 million in total value given how successful he’s been this year. After all, he has slashed .322/.412/.515 with a .401 wOBA and a 157 wRC+.

The current administration, led by the Wilpons, have only had “a really, really brief and preliminary chat this spring” regarding an extension despite the Mets’ star repeated statements about his desire to stay.

But with Steve Cohen set to take over the New York Mets in the short-term, things could change. The team could make a concerted effort to secure the services of one of the most talented sluggers in the National League.

For his part, Conforto wouldn’t go into details of his future in his latest chat with MLB.com’s Anthony DiComo, but he said again that staying would be his priority.

What will the Mets do?

“I don’t know what the new ownership is going to come in and do,” Conforto said. “I’m just a baseball player, so I’ll leave those things to my agent, and to the people that know more about that stuff.”

When asked if he still wants to stay, Conforto replied: “Of course. I love it here. This is everything I know.”

“I’m proud of some of the things that I’ve been able to do this year for sure,” Conforto said. “I’m looking forward to building on some of the individual successes that I’ve had this year, but also, I play this game to win, and I know all those guys in there do, too. That’s the most important thing for us.”

But, for now, the Mets’ outfielder doesn’t have much clarity about what his next step will be.

“I can’t really look beyond today, tomorrow, the games we have left this year,” Conforto said. “Of course I’m aware of what’s going on and new ownership coming in, and you definitely think about what kind of things are going to change and what this team’s going to look like when we come back. But for right now, until I have a better understanding of what that’s going to look like, I’m just focused on playing the game today and making sure I do what I can to help the team win today.”

New York Mets Series Preview: Tampa Bay Rays (9/21-9/23)

New York Mets, Jacob deGrom

The New York Mets try to hold on to their small hopes of making the postseason as they take on the Tampa Bay Rays in a three-game series. The Rays are the best team in the American League, and the Mets need a sweep to keep their chances alive.

Probable Pitching Matchups:

Monday, (9/21) @ 7:10 p.m. ET: Pete Fairbanks (5-3, 2.74 ERA) vs. Jacob deGrom (4-1, 2.08 ERA)

Tuesday, (9/22) @ 7:10 p.m. ET: Blake Snell (4-1, 3.05 ERA) vs. Seth Lugo (2-3, 4.34 ERA)

Wednesday, (9/23) @ 7:10 p.m. ET: Tyler Glasnow (4-1, 4.21 ERA) vs. TBA

Jacob deGrom makes his first start after hamstring spasms forced him out after two innings. The poor start dropped him back in the Cy Young race, but two more great starts from deGrom could do plenty to get him his third straight Cy Young. Also, the Mets need a great start out of him as he tries to contend with the tough Rays offense.

Injuries were not the cause of reason for Seth Lugo’s last start. Balls flew all around Citizens Bank Park, and it was evident his swing and miss stuff was non-existent. Despite the Mets winning the game, it put the rotation for game one against the Braves in shambles.

Rays Pitching Depth

The Rays pitching is one of the biggest reasons they are a World Series contender this season. They have a 3.66 ERA and rank second in the AL in strikeouts. Twelve different pitchers have started games for them, and the same amount have recorded saves. Manager Kevin Cash has weapons to use at any time and is not afraid to use them in big moments.

Young upstart Brandon Lowe is emerging into a start this season. He leads the Rays in all three triple crown stats, hitting .272 with 13 home runs and 33 runs batted in. Lowe also leads the Rays in hits, walks, runs, on-base percentage, and slugging percentage.

Key Stats

Blake Snell vs. Todd Frazier: 1-for-8 (.182), Walk, Strikeout

Michael Conforto during Wins in 2020: .419/.537/.756, 8 Doubles, 7 Home Runs, 15 Walks, 17 Strikeouts

Brandon Nimmo w/2-Out during 2020: .341/.400/.610, 3 Doubles, Triple, 2 Home Runs, 3 Walks, 5 Strikeouts

Jacob deGrom Career vs. Rays: 2 Starts, 1.88 ERA, 14.1 IP, 15 Strikeouts

 

New York Mets: deGrom Exits Early, Gimenez Gets Big Hit in 5-4 Win

New York Mets, Andres Gimenez

Wednesday night’s matchup between the New York Mets and Philadelphia Phillies featured a matchup of two longtime teammates. Jacob deGrom and Zack Wheeler faced each other for the first time, but Wheeler lasted a lot longer than back-to-back Cy Young winner did. For the Mets, if they wanted any hope at a postseason birth, they needed a victory.

From the beginning, it set up like another disappointing Mets loss. They went down 4-0 early, deGrom only lasted two innings, and their offense struggled against Wheeler. The Mets overcame all of that to pick up a huge 5-4 victory to move within 1.5 games of the Phillies. 

From the second pitch of the game, it was evident deGrom was dealing with some issue. deGrom sent glares towards the dugout, trying to let them know something was not right. After giving up three runs in the second, he did not make it back out for the third. deGrom left the game with right hamstring spasms and was visibly frustrated in the dugout.

Wacha to the Rescue

Michael Wacha gave the Mets everything they could have asked for when called into long relief duty. He gave the Mets four innings and held the Phillies to one run and kept the Mets in the game. Wacha worked around some trouble, allowing five hits, but his performance cannot go overlooked.

The comeback started with a simple Robinson Cano ground out, making it a 4-1 game. J.D. Davis made it a 4-3 game with a two-run opposite-field off Wheeler. As the game move into the late innings, Davis left his mark on this game.

With Michael Conforto on first base, his double tied the game in the eighth inning. The ball hung in the air forever, and it just made it over the glove of the leaping Adam Haseley. Conforto also had no clue on the number of outs, which made the play at the plate closer than it should have been.

Clutch Bullpen

In the bottom half of the eighth, Miguel Castro stranded runners on first and second with back to back strikeouts to move the game to the ninth inning. The Phillies made a couple of mistakes in the ninth inning to benefit the Mets. With a runner on first, Hector Neris balked to move the runner to second base.

They decided to intentionally walk Jeff McNeil to set up Andres Gimenez in his biggest spot with the Mets. The rookie came through to line a single to center field, giving the Mets a 5-4 lead. Edwin Diaz worked around a base hit to strike out three batters and pick up his biggest save of the season.

The Mets send Seth Lugo to the mound for the rubber game of this three-game series. Aaron Nola opposes him at Citizens Bank Park for the 7:05 p.m. ET start.

 

New York Mets: 10 Run Fourth Inning, Gives deGrom Plenty in 18-1 Win

Worrying about the New York Mets providing Jacob deGrom run support seems to be a thing of the past. Their 18-run effort gave more than enough for their two-time Cy Young winner in the 18-1 win over the Toronto Blue Jays.

deGrom did not have his best command but put up deGrom-like numbers. He threw six innings, holding the Blue Jays to one run on three hits with nine strikeouts. deGrom continues to make a strong case for a third consecutive Cy Young award as his ERA dropped to 1.67.

Erasmo Ramirez picked up the rare three-inning save in relief of deGrom. Ramirez held the Jays offense scoreless on two hits and only threw 30 pitches in the effort. His ERA is 1.13 through his first eight innings with the Mets.

Relentless Offense

Vladimir Guerrero Jr.‘s RBI single in the first inning was the only bright spot for the Blue Jays. After that, the Mets got things going with four runs in the third inning, highlighted by a Michael Conforto three-run home run.

The offense went bezerk in the fourth inning with ten runs. J.D. Davis started things off with an RBI fielders choice, then Dominic Smith hit a grand slam to break the game open to 9-1. Wilson Ramos contributed a three-run double, making it 12-1. The final two runs of the inning came in on a Conforto single, and Davis double.

Every starter in the lineup recorded a hit other than Pete Alonso. McNeil, Ramos, and Robinson Cano led the way with their three hits. 8 of the Mets 19 hits were for extra bases, and those same numbers (8-for-19) are how they hit with runners in scoring position.

The Mets hope to put up another similar offensive output with Seth Lugo on the mound for the second game of the series. Toronto has not named their starter for game two, but game time is 6:37 p.m. ET from Buffalo.

 

New York Mets: Michael Conforto is mashing his way into a possible extension

The New York Mets are, before the Friday games, a couple of games from a spot in the playoffs. They have played poorly, as their 20-24 record suggests, but if things break right, they could sneak in as one of the wild card teams or maybe even as a second-placed team, although that’s very unlikely.

If the New York Mets are alive by now, it is in large part thanks to the offensive excellence of Michael Conforto. If the 2020 season has been rough for many players in MLB, it has represented another step forward for the lefty-hitting outfielder.

In 44 games and 187 plate appearances, Conforto has hit eight homers and has a shiny .340/.428/.562 slash line, with an excellent .423 wOBA and a 170 wRC+. He has accumulated 1.7 fWAR.

He has even had a few defensive highlights. Truth be told, Conforto has been the heart and soul of the team and the offensive star in a roster filled with top performers such as Pete Alonso, Robinson Cano, Jeff McNeil and others.

Conforto is peaking at the right time if we consider his earning potential. He will go to his third and final arbitration year in 2021, so the Mets may consider extending him.

What would it take? In this fine analysis by Mets’ beat writer for MLB.com Anthony DiComo, he notes that he averaged .257 with an .855 OPS and 29 home runs from 2017 to 2019. Those numbers should also enter the discussion of his next deal.

The Mets’ outfielder keeps evolving

Given that Conforto is hitting lefties with authority and mashing to all fields, we can say he has advanced as a hitter. He is also young, at 27, so he won’t be cheap.

While he is a Scott Boras client, and those tend to wait to reach free agency, it will be Conforto’s decision if he signs an extension with the Mets.

“Everyone always says that Scott is a big free-agency guy and he’s a big fan of that, but Scott … is obviously going to give me the best advice that he feels he has for me as a player and for my career,” Conforto said in February. “Ultimately, it’s my decision. I think it’s somewhat of a misconception about Scott and his clients. He wants what’s best for us. He’s going to give us his best advice. But at the end of the day, he’ll tell you, ‘It’s my client’s decision.’”

Similarly-rated players, like Charlie Blackmon, Justin Upton and JD Martinez, have gotten between five and six years, ranging from $100 million to $110 million.

Will the New York Mets look to extend Conforto?

New York Mets: Alonso’s Bat, Conforto’s Glove Lead to 7-6 Comeback Win

The New York Mets just won the game that could change their season dramatically. After the Mets pitching struggled to slow down the Baltimore Orioles, a Michael Conforto catch of the season turned the game around. The Mets rode that momentum to a 7-6 victory.

The catch was one of the best made by an outfielder over the last decade. Also, the situation was a game-changing moment; the bases were loaded with the Mets trailing by one in the bottom of the sixth inning. The ball struck by Rio Ruiz was destined to land for a three-run double to bury the Mets. It would not have just buried their hopes to win tonight but to make a postseason push.

In the half-inning prior, Conforto’s homer and Robinson Cano‘s RBI single put the Mets in a position where one swing would tie the game. Andres Gimenez kept the momentum rolling as his opposite-field home run tied the game. Most impressively is that the homer came off a left-handed pitcher.

Keep On Fighting

In the eighth inning, Jeurys Familia battled out of a first and third jam to keep the game tied. It gave Pete Alonso the chance to give the Mets a 7-6 lead with a home run over the right-center field fence. The home run was reminiscent of the 53 home runs he peppered all over the field during 2019.

With the late dramatics, Jeff McNeil‘s great start to the game goes overlooked. He drove in the first run then hit a two-run homer for his fourth consecutive game with a homer. This was his first that was hit to the opposite field.

On the pitching side, Rick Porcello put the Mets in an early 5-1 hole. Those five runs were allowed in four innings pitched, and he also allowed ten hits. Porcello could not keep the ball out of the middle of the plate against an aggressive Orioles offense. It was another start that proved the Mets have nothing behind the arms of Jacob deGrom and Seth Lugo.

After a day off on Thursday, the Mets face the Toronto (Buffalo) Blue Jays in their minor league field upstate. Jacob deGrom makes a start against Chase Anderson, the first pitch is at 6:37 p.m. ET.

New York Mets: deGrom Holds Phils, Offense Does The Rest in 14-1 Win

New York Mets, Jacob deGrom

The New York Mets had their best all-around win of the season as they ride seven strong innings from Jacob deGrom to a 7-1 victory over the Philadelphia Phillies. Sunday’s matchup set up as a pitchers duel between deGrom and Aaron Nola, but deGrom showed why he is the best pitcher in the game.

deGrom held the Phillies to one run over seven innings with 12 strikeouts. Out of his 108 pitches, 35 of them were swing and misses. deGrom pitched with two different game plans, using his fastball predominantly in the first three innings then shifting to his slider. The lone Phillies run came on an Andrew Knapp home run in the second inning.

Aaron Nola did not have anywhere near the success he had during his last outing against the Mets. His defense hurt him at times, but he allowed six runs (three earned) in 5.1 innings pitched. Nola surprisingly struck out 10, despite allowing two home runs. He also allowed seven hits to left-handed batters after allowing only six hits to them all season.

Scattered Scoring

The Mets offense showed how potent they could be in their 14 run, 17 hit, 12 extra-base hit, and four home run effort. Seven different Mets recorded hits, and out of those, four of them had multiple-hit games. They scored in six out of eight innings, capping it off with a seven-run eighth inning.

Brandon Nimmo and Michael Conforto were anchors at the top of the order. They had three hits each, including a home run for Nimmo and two doubles for Conforto. Dominic Smith had four hits, including three doubles and three RBIs. Pete Alonso homered twice for two of his three hits, all of them hit at high velocities.

It was the laugher of a game the Mets have searched for, and their offense also went 5-for-16 with runners in scoring position. After a tough streak of losses, the Mets now have wins in four out of five games and are just three games under the .500 mark.

David Peterson hopes to get the Mets their third win and final win of the series. He faces former Met Zack Wheeler, who is making his first start as a visitor at Citi Field. The first pitch is another 1:10 p.m. start.

New York Mets: Lugo’s Best Start of the Season Gives Mets a 5-1 Win

The New York Mets needed Seth Lugo to pitch as long as he could, and it was exactly what he did. Lugo gave the Mets five strong innings, holding the Phillies to one run and throwing a season-high 81 pitches. The Mets offense came together to give them a relaxing 5-1 victory.

The command that Lugo lacked with his fastball he made up for with his curveball. It helped him record eight strikeouts and keep the Phillies to four hits. Their only run came off a Rhys Hoskins home run on a fastball in the first inning. Lugo recording the win was the first Mets starter to earn a W in 19 games.

Team Effort On Offense

Six different Mets recorded hits and half of them had multiple-hit games. Michael Conforto made use of the opposite field for two hits, including an RBI single. Jeff McNeil did not have an RBI but had a double to continue his hot hitting.

Andres Gimenez was the best player for the Mets on both sides of the ball. He had four productive plate appearances. Two hits, a walk, and a sacrifice fly that was a gift from the Phillies defense as Bryce Harper’s laziness forced a backpedaling Neil Walker to make the catch.

The strong play on offense and defense is showing why he should play more than Amed Rosario. With the Mets needing every single victory they can get, Gimenez will likely continue to play as Luis Rojas rides the hot hand.

The struggling Mets bullpen also hurled four shutout innings and recorded five strikeouts. The entire staff also held the Phillies to 0-for-6 with runners in scoring position and stranded 10 Phillies on base.

Sunday afternoon’s matchup is a battle of the aces as Jacob deGrom faces Aaron Nola at a 1:10 p.m. ET start from Citi Field.

New York Mets: Conforto Leads Offense to a Much Needed 9-4 Win

The sad news of Tom Seaver’s death puts a damper on the New York Mets victory. Despite the tragic news, the Mets clawed their way through the game and used an excellent offensive output to defeat the Baltimore Orioles 9-4.

Michael Conforto had a big day at the plate. He recorded four hits, including a double and home run, and drove in five of the nine Mets runs. Pete Alonso also hit a majestic home run into the second deck at Camden Yards at a scorching 113 miles per hour. Jake Marisnick and Jeff McNeil also recorded RBIs for the Mets.

Peterson Saves Bullpen

It was another poor start for Michael Wacha, who allowed only two runs in three innings but had little command throughout. Manager Luis Rojas showed the urgency he lacked on Tuesday and immediately turned to David Peterson, who was assigned to the bullpen on Wednesday.

Peterson stabilized the game and kept the Orioles from scoring against him. He pitched four innings, allowing two hits and two walks while only striking out one batter. With his ERA dropping to 3.03, it makes it very surprising that the Mets still opted to move their second-best starter to the bullpen. 

Miguel Castro made his Mets debut throwing a scoreless eighth against his former team. Todd Frazier did not have the same success as Castro in his Mets return. He went hitless in five at-bats, leaving four runners on base.

On Thursday, the Mets play a makeup game with the New York Yankees at Citi Field. J.A. Happ faces Robert Gsellman at 4:10 p.m. from Citi Field as the Mets try to even up the season series with their crosstown rival.