Things haven’t been going great for Michael Conforto since returning from the injured list on June 23 after missing just over five weeks with a “significant” right hamstring strain.
In 53 plate appearances since rejoining the Mets, Conforto’s gone 5-for-42 with 16 strikeouts and seven walks (and three HBP), dropping his line on the season to .200/.335/.284. Not great.
Two of those hits came in his first game back. Surprisingly worse.
Even before hitting the IL, Scooter was struggling to find consistency this year (.230/.356/.336 over 135 PA; that OBP never wavers, huh?).
An encouraging stretch to start May (.255/.386/.340 in 57 PA) was cut short by that hammy, and here we are.
Timing has been elusive for Conforto, obviously. Some of his at-bats look absolutely foreign compared to what we’ve grown accustomed to seeing from him.
That’s got to change. And it could be.
As we heard from Mets skipper Luis Rojas as the team was dealing with what felt like weekly COVID or weather postponements, the value of game-speed reps can’t be understated.
Missing five weeks then getting tossed back into the lion’s den of MLB pitching is no easy tree to climb.
And yes, Conforto’s had a generous handful of plate appearances to find his rhythm since returning. But, sometimes, it’s not as easy as Brandon Nimmo swinging a bat for the first time in a month and hitting the ground running.
It’s more than fair to start getting anxious waiting for the player we’re all familiar with (.262/.369/.462, 44 HR, 126 wRC+, 5.8 fWAR over 254 games since 2019) to show up in force.
Conforto is an integral part of this Mets offense. If he’s right, it makes the job that much easier for the rest of the lineup. And considering the lofty goals this team has, Scooter re-emerging sooner rather than later would be absolutely ideal.
We have been down this road before with the 28-year-old former first-round draft pick (2014, 10th overall).
After undergoing major shoulder surgery (torn left posterior capsule) in September 2017, Conforto returned ahead of schedule (then-Mets GM Sandy Alderson pegged him for a May return) to hit a big, opposite-field homer in a win at Washington on April 5.
He’d finish out April hitting .222/.390/.317. Sound familiar?
An 0-for-13 to start May led to a .299/.379/.519 stretch over 87 plate appearances to finish out the month. Conforto would cool a bit before the All-Star break but finished the season on a .273/.356/.539 tear over his final 68 games (292 PA).
That uptick bled into his watershed 2019 campaign (.257/.363/.494, 33 HR, 3.7 fWAR), which presumably helped him evolve into the player we were all in awe of last season (.322/.412/.515, 157 wRC+, nine homers in 54 games).
As evidenced, once Michael Conforto finds his stride, he freaking rakes. The Mets could use some of that.
As we saw with Jeff McNeil over the last few weeks before finally breaking out with his 2-for-4, two-RBI effort in the Mets’ Game 1 win over Milwaukee on Wednesday, these things take time.
Since returning from his left hamstring strain on June 21, McNeil’s been struggling at the plate but quietly been making very loud contact.
His 41% hard-hit rate over 59 plate appearances since June 21 is well above his career mark (35.4 percent). We’ll take that.
You’d assume that would produce a more impressive line than the .245/.322/.245 he’s put up over the last two-plus weeks, but it’s all part of the process.
Well-struck balls are usually indicative of a groove being found. Per the metrics, Conforto is on a similar trajectory.
Since coming back from the IL, Scooter has a 37% hard-hit rate compared to his 35.4 percent career average. One would hope that means his own little turnaround is following close behind.
What this season’s inconsistency means for what figures to be quite an exciting offseason for Conforto is to be determined. But that’s neither here nor there, at this point.
Winning cures all that ails ya, even impending free agency. And with Michael Conforto playing like Michael Conforto, the Mets’ chances of winning increase exponentially.
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