Amidst a frustrating season for a Mets offense that is woefully underperforming, Michael Conforto has taken on the dubious role as the poster child of the team’s struggles.
While injuries have played their part in sapping any sort of momentum or consistency, the Mets ranked second-to-last in Major League Baseball with an average of 3.82 runs scored per game prior to their series opener Monday night against the Miami Marlins.
They’ve been held to three runs or fewer nine times over their last 13 games, which has played a major role in an inability to string positive results together. New York hasn’t won consecutive games since July 21-23 and hasn’t scored more than three runs in consecutive games since July 17-19.
This is a lineup that has recently lost Francisco Lindor with Jeff McNeil and Brandon Nimmo taking some nights off to recuperate nagging issues, but the remaining cast has done little as Conforto has received a majority of the ire.
In a contract year, Conforto is losing money by the fistfuls as he was slashing .196/.324/.324 (649 OPS) with six home runs and 24 RBI in his first 69 games this season.
A promising five-game stretch from July 11-19 that featured a .389 batting average and four home runs was quickly canceled out by his latest swoon; a 13-game stretch in which he’s batting .103 (4-for-39) with no RBI and 11 strikeouts.
The problem appears to be as basic as ever, according to Mets manager Luis Rojas.
“He knows what’s going on, his timing just isn’t where it was last year,” Rojas said. “I was looking at video late [Saturday] night… his timing from last year compared to this year [is off] and Michael is working on those things.
“You know Michael has a solid attitude. He’s simplifying things. He just wants to get past this mechanical part and getting back to being aggressive, staying simple.”
“That causes a lot of hesitation,” he continued. “When you’re not feeling right, there can be hesitation… It just affects everything. When it gets to the point where you’re not thinking, that’s when you’re hot.”
It’s well-known what Conforto can do when his game is simplified. From 2018-2020, he slashed 261/.365/.478 (.842 OPS) with 162-game averages of 32 HR and 93 RBI.
That promise was why the Mets bet on Conforto over the winter, foregoing an all-out pursuit of George Springer to ensure they could offer their homegrown product a contract that might have exceeded $200 million.
It would be quite a surprise if Conforto’s new contract this winter came anywhere near that number — regardless of where that high offer comes from.
For now, though, the Mets need one of their more valuable, healthy bats to find a way to get all the pieces working in unison to ensure they keep their perch atop a weak National League East.
“I think he’s close. We know Michael is a good hitter,” Rojas said. “What’s going to get him to that point is just getting him out there… He’s going to keep working hard.”