Michael Conforto, a game-changer for the Mets
The Mets have added six players from outside the organization since July 24, during which the Mets are 24-11 and have netted 9 1/2 games on their division rival, the Washington Nationals.
Certainly, the three position players in Kelly Johnson, Juan Uribe and Yoenis Cespedes can be credited for the Mets second half revival, and Tyler Clippard has been invaluable to the club’s beleaguered bullpen since the All-Star break.
But then there’s the sweet-swinging Michael Conforto, who Sandy Alderson himself was skeptical would perform if promoted from Double-A Binghamton with only one year’s worth of professional experience and being just 14 months removed from his junior year at Oregon State.
Even his own agent, Scott Boras, felt it more appropriate Conforto be promoted today when rosters expanded, rather than five weeks before.
Even the subject-matter experts aren’t right all the time. And everyone got this one wrong.
In a good way, of course.
The day before the Mets made the bold and difficult decision to call-up Conforto from Double-A Binghamton on July 23, the club had John Mayberry Jr. batting cleanup in a 3-0 loss to the Dodgers. Since Conforto was promoted on July 24, the Mets have gone 24-11, which was the day before both Uribe and Johnson even had their uniforms printed in the Mets clubhouse.
Needless to say, Conforto has been a very underrated part of the Flushing renaissance. And he’s getting better with each game he plays in the major leagues. He walked and went 2-for-2 with a go-ahead, opposite field home run in the fifth inning for the Mets on Monday, as he sent the Mets sailing towards a 3-1 win over the Phillies.
“I needed to make some adjustments,’’ Conforto said, according to Kevin Kernan of the New York Post. “I do feel comfortable and a lot of that has to do with the guys in the clubhouse. There’s always going to be work to be done.’’
His work is paying off, as Conforto enters play on Tuesday hitting .293/.392/.537 with eight doubles, four home runs and 14 RBI and 21 runs scored in his first 29 games played in the big leagues.
He has reached base in each of his last 13 games, and is hitting .368 during that stretch. Three of Conforto’s four home runs have either tied or given the Mets the lead.
“We continue to very quietly talk about what a great player this guy has a chance to become,” manager Terry Collins said on Monday night. “An outstanding hitter. He’s got a great swing, great hand eye coordination. All the things you look at good hitters, what they do right, he does it.’’
But while he’s impressed with his bat, his work in left field has been equally, if not more impressive, especially since left field is a very new position for Conforto. He has made all of the routine plays, he takes good angles on balls going back, and has shown off a good arm at times as well.
Conforto has had limited exposure to left-handed pitching so far in his big league career – he’s only faced a left-hander six times over his first five weeks with the Mets. That figures to change, presumably in 2016, as the Mets seek to maximize their lineup with right-handed hitters against southpaws down the stretch of the 2015 season.
While Conforto may have survived several instances in which he seemed certain to be optioned to the minor leagues during his time to date, he has not only survived those rosters crunches, but proved he wasn’t deserving of those demotions, either.
He has ascended into an everyday solution and a force from the left-side of the plate, arguably serving as the actual game changer for the Mets, undoubtedly serving as a big piece of their October puzzle this season.