New York Mets outfielder Michael Conforto has been a valuable piece to the team for several years. However, the 2020 campaign needs to be the year where he takes the next step forward in his career.
Put a group of New York Mets fans in one room and you’ll probably get a few fists thrown, plenty of arguing about the team, and maybe a few swears when the topic of ownership comes up.
One of the subjects which often splits the fans is the value of outfielder Michael Conforto. At this stage of his career, many expected he would have been an undeniable superstar. Meanwhile, others already think he is.
Conforto is probably somewhere closer to the middle. There are members of the Flushing Faithful who overrate him. Non-Mets fans likely have no idea who he is or what he’s even capable of. His lack of major awards and accomplishments has helped make him a beloved New York athlete and limited his reach from going much beyond the Hudson.
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For a few years now, Conforto believers have thought an MVP chase was in the works. He certainly has the skills to make a run at the league’s best player award. Unfortunately, Scooter has yet to even sniff a chance at the award.
Heading into his sixth big league season and age 27 campaign, it’s time Conforto confirms what many believe and embarrasses the doubters.
We know the things Conforto cannot do. He won’t hit .300. He won’t strike out less than about once per game. There’s also zero chance we see him suddenly take a major slide back to where he was in 2016 when he was sent down to the minors to figure things out.
If there’s one thing Conforto has proven to us over the last three years it’s that he belongs in the middle of a big league lineup. His power, which includes an average of 31 doubles and 31 home runs per 162 games, is impressive. With the right lineup around him, Conforto should be able to increase his 87 RBI per 162 game rate up to something challenging triple-digits.
Thus far, Conforto’s best year was in the injury-shortened 2017 season when he crushed 27 home runs in only 109 games played. He did it with a personal-best 148 OPS+. This is the kind of season Mets fans have been hoping to see out of him again in the future. Although he has yet to have a repeat in the two full seasons played since hope is still alive.
Something which will hopefully help Conforto in 2020 is a little more stability in the field. Over the years, he has played all three outfield positions. There’s a great chance we see him stay almost exclusively in right field this year. This could benefit him in all aspects of the game, allowing the young man to dig his heels in at one spot on defense.
Although the Mets didn’t make drastic changes to their lineup from last year, knowing what they have could benefit Conforto.
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The Mets have an opportunity to head into the year with a clearer plan. Doing so could help Conforto have the kind of year we’ve been waiting for.