Michael Conforto is stepping into a role as the face of the New York Mets gracefully, and with a force. Move over David…here’s Michael.
Since the day when Michael Conforto was drafted by the Mets in the 1st round (10th overall) of the 2014 MLB June Amateur Draft from Oregon State University (Corvallis, OR), the road has been as bumpy as ever for a fledging All-Star. Five years later though, the journey is complete, and 2019 will set the pace for many years of production in a Mets uniform.
Sometimes, it takes a while. Not every player (think Dwight Gooden, Darryl Strawberry, et al) bursts on the scene in a flair, capturing headlines that catapult him into the stratosphere of stardom. But in the case of Michael Conforto, a key player in the Mets future, there was not one, but two demotions to the minors in 2017, serving as a wake-up call each time, that there ain’t no such thing as a free lunch in the major leagues.
Rebounding from those potential demoralizing demotions, Michael Conforto reported to Spring Training last year, fresh off shoulder surgery. Though pronounced as cleared by doctors and ready to play, the first three months decidedly indicated he wasn’t (ready).
Nevertheless, Conforto plodded through at a time when the Mets were in a freefall after starting their season 11-2. His second half production became a prelude to what would happen with the opening of the 2019 Season.
Michael Conforto – Realizing Himself
Fast forward to today and Michael Conforto is among National League leaders batting .348 going into Friday’s game against the Braves with a .455 on-base percentage, and an over-the-top slugging percentage of 1.085. Screaming line drives like this one…
None of this is surprising and it’s what the Mets (and Conforto himself) have looked forward to. As we know, “potential” is probably the biggest swear word in baseball. Some make it and some don’t.
Michael Conforto goes beyond the numbers though. His importance to the Mets extends to a need to (eventually) replace David Wright as the face of the team, and perhaps as the appointed captain of the team.
Because of his explosive power, Pete Alonso is establishing himself as a major producer in the Mets lineup, as well as a fan favorite (Alonso received the second loudest cheers to Jacob deGrom on the Mets home debut earlier this week).
Baby Bombers – Who?
With little or no flair, the New York Mets have their own version of the Yankee’s Baby Bombers. Call them the Metsies Darlings (or whatever), but the influx of players like Alonso, Conforto, Jeff O’Neill, Brandon Nimmo, and Amed Rosario form the nucleus of a team Mets fans can enjoy for the next decade, and in some cases even beyond.
Everyday players like Michael Conforto will never be replaced, even by a superstar starting pitcher such as Jacob deGrom or Noah Syndergaard, whose contributions to the team are limited to every fifth day, no matter how magnificent they are.
Mets manager, Mickey Callaway, sums up the difference this year in Michael Conforto this way:
Confidence – A Baseball Day To Day Challenge
Confidence, confidence, confidence. There’s no replacement for it when you are standing in there against a Justin Verlander with an arsenal of four pitches, any one of which he can spin up there to get you out…Michael Conforto has been there – and failed.
The trick, though, is to learn from failure, even with the understanding that it’s likely you’ll fail on an average of seven out of ten times you walk up to bat in the future, with an eye on joining those with a plaque in Cooperstown.
Michael Conforto is a long way from even dreaming about the Baseball Hall of Fame, but the journey to get there begins now. He’s a member of a team that is on the upside of transforming themselves into a viable contender in the NL East, this season and on into the remainder of this decade.
For Mets fans, whether the team wins or loses, Michael Conforto is worth a check of the box score for that game. Not to mention the opportunity to follow a career of a Mets player that is just in the budding stage…