Eventually, Michael Conforto will face left-handers, but not now
Michael Conforto has exceeded every expectation since he was promoted from Double-A Binghamton in late July, hitting .284/.360/.532 in 161 plate appearances over 47 games with 11 doubles, eight home runs and 23 RBI in that span.
But throughout his rookie campaign, Conforto’s exposure has been limited against left-handed pitching, as he’s received just 11 at-bats against southpaws in his first 47 games.
And Terry Collins does not expect that to change, either.
“I don’t think at this particular moment there’s a lot he can do to change it,” manager Terry Collins said early Tuesday. “Everything can change, but we’re looking at one lefty in the next seven days, maybe even the next 10 days.”
Collins has said before he expects Conforto to eventually face left-handed pitching, but that opportunity might have to wait until after the 2015 season.
“There’s some people here whose job it is to hit left-handed pitching. … Down the road this kid will be one of them,” Collins explained. “But right now I think we’ll stick with what we’ve done.’’
And for the most part, what they’ve done has worked, with Michael Cuddyer and Juan Lagares sharing the duties against left-handed pitching instead of Conforto.
In 30 games since July 6, Cuddyer has hit .312/.375/.581 with six home runs and 13 RBI in 104 plate appearances. He has a .736 OPS in 107 plate appearances against left-handed pitching in 2015.
Lagares has hit .274/.331/.444 in 127 plate appearances against left-handed pitching this season, far exceeding his totals against right-handed pitching (.254/.272/.331).
For now, Conforto is fine with the system, as it’s been a successful formula for the team since his arrival.
“That’s not my call, whether I’m in there or not. But we’ve been having success, we’ve been winning games and we’re in a good spot right now,” Conforto said on Tuesday. “The situation where I’m not hitting against lefties has worked, so until that stops working I don’t see a reason why we should change it.
“Whatever Terry and the rest of the coaches think is best for the team, I’m all in,” Conforto concluded.
There’s nothing to suggest Conforto won’t succeed against southpaws going forward. He was effective against them in the minor leagues this season, hitting .256/.341/.402 in 132 plate appearances between Single-A St. Lucie and Double-A Binghamton.
But this is simply a matter of not trying to fix what isn’t broken with the Mets right now, especially as the Mets attempt to push their way into the playoffs for the first time in nine years.
Next year will be a different story, and it sounds like that’s when his chance will come against lefties. They could simply make Conforto their full-time left fielder, and either go with a platoon of Cuddyer and Curtis Granderson in right field, or Cuddyer and Lucas Duda at first base.
That would be wise anyway, since Cuddyer is probably best suited as a part-time player at this point in his career.