In 2020, New York Mets hitting coach Chili Davis needs to work with Michael Conforto to help him hit better in losses which could aid the team in making the playoffs.
In the 2018 offseason, there were a lot of mixed opinions when the New York Mets re-hired Chili Davis to be their hitting coach. His history, especially with the Chicago Cubs during the 2018 season, rubbed some people the wrong way. However, some liked the hire and were excited about how he could transform the Mets roster to have a more well-balanced offensive approach.
In 2019 the Mets offense did quite well. Some attributed it to the work Davis did with players like Amed Rosario, J.D. Davis, and Dominic Smith, and some attributed it to the talent of the Mets players rising to the top and everything clicking at the same time.
Chili Davis was re-signed to be the Mets hitting coach going forward and received a three-year deal. Now it is time for him to prove his worth and show that 2019 is what he can really bring to the table and that his time with the Cubs and Red Sox were just aberrations.
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In 2019 the Mets won 86 games and there is clearly room for improvement. It is unclear how much they will spend in the offseason but is history is any indication it will not be much, so it is up to the current team to improve on their weaknesses from 2019 and be even better in 2020.
The way this happens is through Davis and what he can do in year two. However, this all starts with Michael Conforto.
Conforto is one of the core players for this team and year after year he continues to be unceremoniously underrated and perform offensively near the top of the league. His numbers are undoubtedly some of the best among all outfielders in Major League Baseball.
So, if he is so good, how can Davis make him that much better to make the team significantly better in 2020?
He can. And the way he does this is by shrinking the gap in his splits between wins and losses.
What does this mean? Take a look at how Conforto performed in wins in 2019 and how he performed in losses.
In wins, which consists of 1,144 plate appearances, Conforto had an offensive line of .330/.443/.642/1.084 with 18 doubles, 23 home runs, and 69 RBI. He also walked 52 times and stuck out only 63 times. This is an all-star and maybe even MVP type performance.
However, look at his numbers in losses. Conforto, in 1,124 plate appearances, had an offensive line of .181/.274/.341/.614 with 11 doubles, 10 home runs, and 23 RBI. He walked 32 times and stuck out 86 times.
This is an incredible differential between wins and losses and needs to be fixed for 2020.
Obviously, players will perform worse when the team loses but no other player of Conforto’s stature in the national league has this kind of differential.
The biggest shockers are the .470 difference in OPS, the 46 RBI difference and the strikeout difference. Conforto is striking out 18% in wins and 28% in losses. That’s just unbelievable.
This is not just a 2019 issue for Conforto. He has had this issue his whole career.
Looking at those same differentials for his career are staggering. He has a .478 OPS differential, a 164 RBI differential, and a 10% strike-out rate differential.
This needs to be improved and Davis must be the guy to do it.
If he can close the gap for Conforto and have him hit better in losses, then maybe some of those close losses become wins.
How many games does Conforto come up in key spots when they are losing and strike out? Too many.
He does not have to be the same hitter in wins vs losses, but he needs to be league average at a minimum when the team loses.
He is so vital to the success of the team he cannot be striking out nearly 30% when the team loses.
This has been a problem for Conforto for a long time and if Chili Davis is going to improve one thing for the Mets in 2020 it must be Conforto win/loss splits. This has gone unchecked for far too long and it is conceivable that despite the poor bullpen in 2019, the Mets could have reached 90 wins had Conforto turned some of those late loss 9th inning strikeouts into RBIs.
This is time for Chili Davis to show what he is capable of and to prove he was worth the deal he was given.
The 2020 season is make or break time not only for Chili Davis but also the Mets as a whole. Hopefully, they seize the opportunity.