Michael Conforto has taken another step in his track towards stardom
From the very first defensive inning in this World Series for the Mets, the common theme has been, for lack of a better phrase, lackluster defense.
In essence, for every play the Royals can and have made through the first four games of this series, the Mets have not.
Look no further than the first pitch Matt Harvey threw five days ago to Alcides Escobar, who should have been out on a routine flyball to the wall in left-center field, but instead was gifted an inside-the-park home run on both a mental and physical mistake by Michael Conforto and Yoenis Cespedes.
At that point, a debate has raged as to whether or not Michael Conforto should be in left field. And as the series shifted to the National League park in New York, some people even wondered if Conforto should be playing at all, thanks to that mishap and his extended postseason slump, which was 2-for-22 through his first ten postseason games.
But good things come for those who wait, and who keep the faith in a program that got the Mets to this point. Terry Collins insisted leading into Saturday’s game he was sticking with the program that got the Mets here, and that was to use Conforto in left field and Cespedes in center field against right-handed pitching.
Those good things came for Conforto and the Mets on Saturday night.
In Conforto’s first at-bat of the night, he launched a home run around the fair pole in right field against former Met Chris Young in the third inning on a fastball right down the middle of he plate.
It was only his third hit in the postseason, two of which were home runs.
But he wasn’t done proving the naysayers wrong.
He hit another hope run in his next at-bat against Danny Duffy, the left-handed reliever who had just entered the game in relief of Young.
“The feeling after the two home runs was tremendous,” said Conforto, who entered the game with just two hits this postseason. “You dream about those moments, but you’re also conflicted. You want to get that win.”
In a way, Conforto even proved his manager wrong with his fantastic performance on Saturday.
Since he came up in late July, Collins has limited Conforto’s exposure against left-handed pitching. He had amassed a total of 15 plate appearances against left-handers since his promotion.
And he had never hit a home run against a left-handed pitcher in the big leagues.
Until Saturday night.
“He’s going to be a very, very good player,” manager Terry Collins explained. “He’s had a rough postseason, he hasn’t had a lot of hits. But I’ve said before, he’s had good at-bats. He’s dangerous, and tonight he showed that.
“So this guy is going to be an outstanding offensive player. I mean this is a great experience for him to get a lot better fast.”
Collins has said Conforto will transition into an everyday player beginning in 2016, which means Michael Cuddyer is all but certain to resume his new role off the bench.
And based on how comfortable he looked against Duffy in his one plate appearance on Saturday, it’s hard to not get excited for what Conforto can bring to the table over a full 162-game schedule.
Pretty impressive for a kid who was playing college ball 17 months ago.