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Michael Conforto is not overrated

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You can call Michael Conforto many things, but overrated is not one of them.

New York Mets v Philadelphia Phillies Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

If you’ve spent any amount of time reading about the Mets on Twitter and elsewhere online, you’re bound to have seen a few people calling Michael Conforto some variation of a bust or overrated. Recently, some have even called for the Mets to trade him due to a failure to reach expectations. If you really find yourself hanging around the alleys of Twitter, you’ll even find MetsBlog discussing whether he should be dealt before Dominic Smith. With enough of these takes and tweets being fired across your screens, you might be under the impression that Michael Conforto actually is overrated, but the reality is, he isn’t.

To start, it is a fact that Michael Conforto is one of the best offensive players to suit up for the Mets for any reasonable length of time. Right now, Conforto is in the middle of his age-26 season and has stepped up to the plate for the Mets just over 2,000 times during the regular season. If you cut that qualifier in half and take all 99 players in Mets history with 1,000 or more plate appearances and arranged them by wRC+, Michael Conforto finds himself comfortably tied with Lucas Duda—who is also underrated—in 10th place with a 123 wRC+. If you’d rather look at slugging percentage, Conforto is also 10th in that statistic, sandwiched between Cliff Floyd and Robin Ventura with a .475 slugging.

Maybe you like when a batter can get on base, so on-base percentage is more your bag. While he’s a bit lower in that category, Conforto finds himself tied with Carlos Delgado for 21st place in Mets history with a .351 on-base percentage. If you’d rather look at fWAR to make your judgments, despite having played less games with the Mets than all but one of the players in front of him, Michael Conforto and his 12.0 fWAR are in 22nd place in the history of the franchise. If you’re going to point fingers at Conforto for being a bust or not good enough for all the hype he gets, you might be barking up the wrong tree.

Perhaps you’d rather look at how Conforto stacks up against the other outfielders in baseball rather than the mass of hitters in Mets history. If you take all the outfielders in baseball through all of 2018 and this first chunk of 2019 with more than 750 plate appearances, you have yourself a sample of 63 different players. During this bit, it’s worth keeping in mind that Conforto struggled coming back into form early last season after his shoulder injury and still managed to end up where he did on these lists.

Sticking with the same stats as before, Conforto has a 120 wRC+ over the past season and a half, putting him on his own in 24th place, within two points of names such as Andrew McCutchen and Charlie Blackmon. Conforto takes a bit of a dip in slugging percentage with a .456, but still finds himself tied for 32nd place, just behind Tommy Pham and well ahead of Andrew Benintendi. Conforto also ranks 25th out of all the outfielders in on-base percentage with a .353 mark. Putting it all together and moving to fWAR, Conforto finds himself as the 24th best in baseball over the past season and a half, ahead of names like Joc Pederson, Marcell Ozuna, and Charlie Blackmon.

If you’d rather just look at this year and ignore anything beyond that, Conforto still ends up in 23rd place among all 65 qualified outfielders with his 120 wRC+, his .469 slugging ranks 36th, his .358 on-base percentage is the 20th best, and his 1.8 fWAR is good for 23rd place in the game. Stick whatever biases or perceived lack of clutch you want on Conforto, but the fact is that he is easily a top 25 outfielder in each of the past two seasons on their own and when they’re put together.

For the Mets franchise, Conforto is one of the best hitters to ever wear the orange and blue and one of the truly elite homegrown talents over the Amazin’s 57+ years of existence. To declare Conforto overrated or a bust and advocate for moving on from him would be to exile one of the better outfielders in the sport.