clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Michael Conforto is looking like an MVP

New, 22 comments

The all-around slugger is in midseason form

Washington Nationals v New York Mets Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

Michael Conforto is healthy, settled in, and looks every inch an MVP. He’s hitting .302/.419/.593 in 105 plate appearances and shows no signs of slowing down after his hot start to the season.

What is so remarkable about this run for Conforto—and why his 1.012 OPS is actually sustainable—is that he’s firing on all cylinders, putting up career-best numbers in almost every category. He is one of the most well-rounded hitters in the National League and will be giving pitchers fits all summer long.

The power boost is perhaps the most exciting facet of Conforto’s season. He’s on pace for 42 home runs and 49 doubles this year, both of which would smash his previous career bests. He’s achieving this not so much by hitting the ball harder than in the past—his career hard hit rate is quite good—but by hitting the ball in the air. Over half his batted balls are fly balls and just a quarter are ground balls. And these are not dinky pop-ups, as Conforto is pummeling the ball like he’s always done, just with the ideal launch angle to rack up extra-base hits.

Conforto’s power is not coming at the expense of his plate discipline, though, which is the best it’s ever been. He’s drawing walks at a Brandon Nimmo-esque 15% rate, which tops his previous high in 2018 by almost two percentage points. On the flip side, his 19% strikeout rate is a personal best and well below league average. In particular, he is swinging at fewer out-of-zone pitches and better able to make contact when he does.

One other notable uptick for Conforto has been his baserunning. His two stolen bases on the year are just one shy of his career-best three from last year, with no pick-offs or caught stealings either. He is not a speedy player, with a Statcast sprint speed that places him just about exactly at the midpoint for major league players. But he’s a smart player who can pick his spots carefully and an athletic one with quick reaction times to help him get back to first after taking a long lead or to slide under a tag.

Going forward, pitchers will probably start to keep a closer watch on him on the basepaths, but otherwise their defenses against what Conforto is achieving with the bat are minimal. The strike zone has been much narrower this season, rendering it difficult for pitchers to take advantage of his modest vulnerability on inside pitches. His adjustments that have brought his swing better lift haven’t left any significant holes to try to drive up his strikeout rate, and there are no hallmarks of an unusually lucky streak that suggest imminent regression.

Simply put, Conforto is the player he appears to be, and that player is very special. He is on track for a career year and at this rate should absolutely be in the mix for MVP. Whether you’re looking at the 168 wRC+ or the nearly 100 RBI pace, he’s giving the Mets a lot to like.