Is it time for Mets to worry about Michael Conforto?

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Danny Abriano
·3 min read
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Michael Conforto Mets unhappy at plate 2021 TREATED ART
Michael Conforto Mets unhappy at plate 2021 TREATED ART

As the Mets' season has gotten off to a strange beginning, which has included six postponements and just eight games played, the start for Michael Conforto has some fans panicking.

Conforto, who last Thursday was involved in one of the most bizarre endings to a game you'll ever see, has started the season in a serious funk.

In 32 plate appearances over seven games played, Conforto has just three hits and has struck out eight times.

A stretch like that wouldn't get this kind of attention if it happened during the middle of the season, but that it transpired out of the gate has some people on edge.

So should the Mets be worried about Conforto?

Beware of ridiculously small sample sizes

More concerning than the results for Conforto has been the way he has looked at the plate.

He has been swinging and missing at a high rate, chasing pitches he usually takes, and making soft contact when he does put the bat on the ball. So it hasn't been bad luck for him.

Last Saturday against the Miami Marlins, Conforto twice failed to drive in a runner from third base with less than two outs -- striking out both times.

But again, we are talking about an incredibly small sample size here during an early-season where the Mets have been thrown off due to postponements.

Don't believe false narratives

As Conforto has struggled over the first eight games this season, especially with runners in scoring position, the narrative has been building that he is not a clutch player.

The only problem with that narrative is that it's nonsense.

Conforto is not only a very good clutch player, but one whose career numbers with runners in scoring position are better than his numbers without runners in scoring position.

In 628 career plate appearances with runners in scoring position, he is hitting .269/.392/.509 with 29 homers and 31 doubles.

In 1,406 plate appearances without runners on base, Conforto has hit .253/.351/.481.

Jul 9, 2020; Flushing Meadows, New York, United States; New York Mets right fielder Michael Conforto (30) swings a bat outside the batting cage during batting practice during summer camp workouts at Citi Field.
Jul 9, 2020; Flushing Meadows, New York, United States; New York Mets right fielder Michael Conforto (30) swings a bat outside the batting cage during batting practice during summer camp workouts at Citi Field.

Is a contract extension and free agency on Conforto's mind?

Maybe, but that doesn't mean it's why he's struggling.

It would be only natural for Conforto, who did not set an Opening Day deadline for an extension with the Mets to get done, to be thinking about contract talks and pending free agency.

And if Conforto doesn't sign an extension, he is playing right now for his next contract -- whether it comes from the Mets or a team on the open market.

But unless this seven-game stretch becomes an actual tailspin that goes far beyond what it is now, it's not fair to blame any outside factor for it.

Conforto recently had COVID-19

Conforto said on April 4 that he had COVID-19 two weeks before he reported to spring training, meaning that he is roughly two months out from having the virus.

Everyone is impacted differently by COVID-19, with some people never having symptoms and others dealing with them for months.

It is unknown whether Conforto is being hampered by anything COVID-related, but it's at least fair to note it as a possibility.

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When you look at what Conforto has done during the six seasons he played in the majors before 2021, and when you realize how foolhardy it can be to try to derive anything from a seven-game sample size, it's pretty easy to conclude that now is not the time to worry about the long-term outlook for Conforto.

Sep 9, 2020; New York City, New York, USA; New York Mets right fielder Michael Conforto (30) rounds the bases after hitting a solo home run against the Baltimore Orioles during the fifth inning at Citi Field.
Sep 9, 2020; New York City, New York, USA; New York Mets right fielder Michael Conforto (30) rounds the bases after hitting a solo home run against the Baltimore Orioles during the fifth inning at Citi Field.

Yes, Conforto has looked lost over the first seven games he has played this season, and he has been dropped to sixth in the lineup.

But the expectation should be that what is bringing Conforto down is at least partly mechanical and very fixable. And it will be surprising if this funk continues much longer.

If it does, and Conforto keeps making soft contact, looking indecisive at the plate, and swinging and missing at an alarming rate, it will be time to worry. But it is nowhere near that point.