Conforto carried a 3.7 GPA into his last semester of high school and scored 1740 on the SAT.
Michael was a star baseball player at Redmond High School in Washington state. And he was a quarterback and safety for the football team. His father, Mike, played linebacker for Joe Paterno at Penn State.
His mother, Tracie Ruiz-Conforto, won two gold medals in synchronized swimming at the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles. (She was so good the Japanese judge awarded her a perfect 10.) Tracie also dominated the Pan Am Games in 1983 and 1987, winning consecutive victories there.
Michael's mother, Tracie, won two gold medals in synchronized swimming at the 1984 Summer Olympics and a silver medal in 1988. She was later inducted into the International Swimming Hall of Fame. (Clair - mlb.com - 5/17/2020)
In 2011, Conforto's senior year at Redmond High School, he committed to Oregon State on a baseball scholarship.
When asked about what he'd do if drafted by a MLB team, Michael said, "I really want to go to college,” said Conforto, who planned on majoring in engineering. “It’s going to take a lot for me not to go to college. We’ll see if I change my mind.”
And Conforto's best friend and teammate at Redmond High, Dylan Davis, were set to play together for Oregon State.
"We wanted to come to school, we knew that,” said Davis, an outfielder/righthanded pitcher. “We still had a lot to develop, a lot to focus in on, and a lot to learn still. We've played together since we were about 11 or 12. We grew up together; he's like my brother. It's pretty special going here together, batting 3-4, being here three years now and rooming together, we've had a great time. We've had a blast. I love Oregon State, love Corvallis, love everything about it. It's been the best decision of our lives so far.”
It could hardly have played out any better. The pair helped lead Oregon State back to the CWS in 2013 for the first time since 2007, and they headed into this spring as preseason All-Americans.
At Oregon State, Conforto set the school's single-season RBI record his freshman year. That summer, he played alongside Kris Bryant, Carlos Rodon, and Marco Gonzales on the USA Baseball Collegiate National Team. Conforto was an All-American his sophomore year and a finalist his junior year for the Golden Spikes Award, given to the country's best amateur player. (Joe Trezza - 2015)
Michael is a tireless, dedicated worker who puts forth full effort at even the mundane baseball drills or workouts. And he brings energy to the field. He is a team leader. And he maintains a steady composure whether he gets three hits or three K's. He is enthusiastic on and off the field. "His work ethic is off the charts," said Oregon State Coach Pat Casey. And in 2014, Michael made a conscious effort to step into the leadership void, even though he is "not a big talker," as Casey put it. "He's kind of like E.F. Hutton: When he speaks, people listen,” Casey said.
“He's a pretty fiery guy,” teammate Dylan Davis said. “He played football, his dad played football at Penn State. He really has that football fire in him. If there's something that wrecks his gears, he's going to let you know. You're not going to see it emotionally, but you'll see it in his eyes, in his face, maybe missing a pitch or somebody mouthing off to him when they shouldn't mouth off to him, whatever it may be, he's just a competitor. He gets in that zone a lot, and that's why he's been so successful here.”
Conforto has always been something of an athletic outlier, starring in both baseball and football in high school. Offers poured in from Division I colleges around the country—some inviting him to play both sports, others asking him to play football alone. Oregon State suggested baseball.
Again, his family had an influence. "I could see the way that football affected my dad later on in life," Conforto said. "He's going to need double knee surgery, and he's having trouble walking around. I loved football, I really did, but baseball was always another big passion for me. So I made that transition over to just baseball, and my baseball career really took off."
Over the ensuing three years, Conforto transformed from an undrafted high school baseball player to a first-round talent. In three collegiate seasons, he batted .340 with a .560 slugging percentage, striking out 119 times against 120 walks in 668 at-bats.
For the 2014 season, he hit .345 with 16 doubles and seven home runs in 59 games, also walking an Oregon State-record 55 times. He led his conference in slugging percentage, on-base percentage and runs scored. (DiComo - mlb.com - 6/5/14)
A native of Woodinville, Washington, Conforto is a two-time Pac-12 Player of the Year and a finalist for the Golden Spikes Award, college baseball's top collegiate honor. He also played for the USA Baseball Collegiate National Team in the summers of 2012 and 2013, demonstrating the types of skills the Mets value throughout their organization.
The Mets plan to "take things slow" with Conforto this summer, according to Paul DePodesta, Mets vice president of amateur scouting, but they could aggressively promote him through the system from there.
"Not only is he a college player, this is a pretty polished college player," DePodesta said. "We'll see how it goes. We do think he's an advanced hitter, and certainly has a chance to move quicker than the high school players that we've taken the last few years."
Most of that will depend upon how Conforto adapts to life as a professional. Waking up with the last lingering effects of an illness, he waited anxiously as the first nine names came off the board. Finally, the Mets stepped to the MLB Draft podium for pick No. 10.
"It was unlike anything I've ever experienced," he said. "When my name finally got called, it was an unbelievable moment, just one of those moments where you realize that everything you've worked toward for your entire life has kind of culminated in one event. I couldn't put the feeling into words if I tried." (DiComo - mlb.com - 6/5/14)
In June 2014, the Mets drafted Conforto. And on July 11, Conforto signed. He was visiting New York for the first time and, between seeing the sights, preparing for life as a professional ballplayer with Class A Brooklyn that summer, and meeting some of the Major Leaguers he grew up watching. Michael learned something pretty important about the Big Apple: The food is really good.
"We've been eating a whole lot since we got here," Conforto said during his introductory news conference at Citi Field, flanked by GM Sandy Alderson, scouting director Tomy Tanous, and agent Scott Boras. "We're Italian, and we've had some really good Italian food. Really good."
"You only need to look at me at this end of the table and Scott Boras at the other end of the table to know that we're probably two of the more stubborn people in the game," Alderson said. "Whatever delay occurred had absolutely nothing to do with Michael." (Tim Healy MLB.com, 7/11/2014)
In 2015, Baseball America rated Conforto as the 7th-best prospect in the Mets organization.
In 2015, Conforto was selected by the Mets to play in the Futures Game.
LITTLE LEAGUE WORLD SERIES
In 2015, Michael was watching when the Little League World Series began, each glance at the clubhouse television screen representing a nod to his past.
In 2004, Conforto was one of the kids on those Williamsport, Pa., fields, stepping into the national spotlight for the first time. The 11-year-old Conforto, playing for Redmond North Little League in Washington, had the chance to brush shoulders with the country's best players, some of whom would eventually make it to the big stage along with him.
"There are players-only barracks where you stay, and we're all together for two weeks," Conforto recalled. "Its pretty much paradise for a bunch of kids."
Conforto remembers one of those kids particularly well: Cardinals center fielder Randal Grichuk. Before having a great rookie year for baseball's best team, Grichuk spent his summers swatting home runs for Lamar National Little League (Richmond, Texas).
The 12-year-old Grichuk homered three times over Conforto's head on Aug. 21, 2004, when his Southwest Region team topped Conforto's Northwest squad, 18-7, in Williamsport, Pa. "I remembered his name," Conforto said.
Conforto also went deep that day with an opposite-field solo shot. When Conforto was promoted to the Majors on July 24, 2015, Grichuk contacted his old friend. "The kid from Washington," Grichuk thought.
Redmond was eliminated after three games, the last a 3-2 heartbreaker to an Owensboro, Ky., team lead by Red Sox farmhand Cole Sturgeon. But Conforto's impressive tournament line, 6-for-10 with four runs scored, continued the tradition of future big leaguers excelling in the national spotlight at an early age. For Conforto, the charged atmosphere in Williamsport provided an ideal training ground for his Major League career. Michael has shown impressive poise in late-inning situations for a player his age, an attribute he can trace back to Williamsport.
There, Conforto played in front of large crowds in games broadcast on TV for the first time. He also experienced his first interviews. "I was awkward," he says now. And ultimately, Conforto grew into a role model for a new generation of Redmond Little Leaguers hungry for his advice. Conforto goes back to visit the All-Stars at Redmond, who are still coached by Conforto family friend Darryl Beliel.
"[The kids] can say, 'Hey, this guy is playing pro ball now, and if I stick with it, maybe I can get there, too,'" Mike said.
Conforto's father, Mike, played football at Penn State and grew up in Altoona, Pa., which is about 100 miles from Williamsport. He spotted the Williamsport exit during a recent drive through his home state, and made sure to text his son. Michael Conforto, the only player from that Redmond team still lacing up his spikes every day, read the message and smiled." Brings back memories," Mike's text said. (Trezza - mlb.com - 8/20/15)
Binghamton skipper Pedro Lopez got his first chance to see Conforto during 2015 spring training before he eventually was assigned to high Class A St. Lucie. Lopez took immediate notice of the professional, authentic way he approached his job day in and day out.
“He just has an overall good approach in all aspects of the game,” Lopez said. “That’s what makes him successful, and that’s what got him a promotion to go to the big leagues.
“That’s the way he was brought up since he was playing Little League and college, and he just translated it over here to professional baseball.”
In 2015, Conforto was named the Mets' Sterling Player of Year.
October 2015: Conforto, at 22 years old, was the youngest player in either starting lineup for Game 1 of the 2015 World Series. And yet, this was his third World Series.
Conforto has now played in the Little League World Series, the College World Series, and MLB World Series. The World Series Triple Crown, people call it. Who else has done it?
Jason Varitek did it when he played in the World Series with the Boston Red Sox in 2004. And Ed Vosberg earned his "triple crown" in 1997 with the Florida Marlins.
Conforto played on the 2004 Little League team from Redmond, Wash., then the 2013 Oregon State team. (Mike Oz/2015)
A child's curiosity can uncover much in life. Michael's mother, Tracie Conforto, never crowed about her athletic accomplishments when her children were young. But there were a great many of them, and by the time Michael Conforto reached grade school, his friends were asking questions. Conforto searched for answers.
One day, Tracie—a double gold medalist in synchronized swimming at the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles and a silver medalist four years later in Seoul—brought some of her medals to a show-and-tell session at Conforto's school. As he grew older, Conforto recalls falling down a rabbit hole of YouTube videos, watching his mother swim.
"There was a sense of pride that came with who my parents were and what they had done athletically," Conforto said. (Conforto's father, also named Michael, was a Penn State linebacker. His sister, Jacqueline, played collegiate soccer. But it was Tracie Conforto who garnered the most attention as an athlete, winning dozens of medals in competition.)
Tracie and her son remain close in adulthood, mother often texting son nuggets of advice or inspiration: "You look fierce up there," or, "You look intelligent."
"Because she understands," Conforto said. "She knows. I think she kind of sees herself in me a little bit." For the younger Conforto, the same competitive nature that spurred his mother to success has always burned within him. Tracie Conforto recalls Michael once drawing the attention of a fellow parent during a youth soccer game in Washington.
"He was so determined to make a goal that he was just barreling over everything and everybody," Tracie said, laughing. And one of the dads on the sideline starts yelling at him, saying, 'Hey, hey, hey, this is not football; this is soccer.' He didn't really know. Instinctively, he was determined and bound that he was going to get down and get that ball in the goal. That's sort of how he has innocently played his whole life." (DiComo - MLB.com - 5/5/16)
When Conforto left home for Oregon State in 2011, Tracie did her best to stay connected via text messages. She does so less these days with her son thriving in the Majors, knowing "he really doesn't need me as much … he's doing it on his own." But that does not mean Tracie is fading to the background of Michael's life. To the contrary, the two share a bond on multiple levels—not only as mother and son, but also as a pair of high-level athletes. They both understand what Tracie calls the "obsessive" drive needed to succeed in a sometimes cutthroat world. They know the value of good coaches and dependable teammates.
She relishes the time she and Michael can spend together over the winter. "One thing that has been so awesome as a mom is that whenever I've come to a game, no matter how old he was, he would always give me a big hug," Tracie said. "He was never embarrassed in front of the other boys, even through the teenage years, the high school years. He does what he thinks is right."
But Tracie also understands the value of personal space, particularly for athletes, and so she's watched mostly from afar as her son has developed into one of the National League's burgeoning superstars. One day, Tracie hopes, the two will be able to spend even more time together—to "golf like crazy" and perhaps use their celebrity to aid what charities they can.
For now, Tracie is thrilled simply to live vicariously through her son, who is experiencing the same sort of dream she did three decades earlier. "You think of your young kid dropped in the middle of New York City by himself," Tracie said. "It really as a parent now makes me feel good that he's surrounded by so many good people and coaches and players and friends, and it just seems like such a wonderful family that he's developed out there. As a mom, that's probably the best thing that could have ever happened to me." (DiComo - MLB.com - 5/5/16)
Conforto and Matt Boyd grew up in Washington and were roommates at Oregon State. They also work out together in the offseason.
In 2017, Conforto represented the Mets in his first MLB All-Star Game.
Aug 17, 2018: Back when Conforto was a fresh face in the big leagues, and the Mets were making their 2015 National League pennant run, Conforto would often hear his name as the answer to a trivia question: He, Ed Vosberg and Jason Varitek are the only players to appear in the Little League World Series, the College World Series and the MLB World Series. "I'm sure I'll hear it a lot," Conforto said as he prepared to return to Williamsport, Pa., for the first time since competing in the 2004 Little League event. "It's pretty special."
At the time, Conforto recalls, the Little League World Series "just felt like the biggest thing in sports." As he and his Redmond, Wash., teammates competed, Conforto went through the usual rituals of befriending rivals—trading souvenir pins, and hoping for as much screen time as possible on ESPN. And he forged a particular bond with members of a team from Saipan.
This time around, that last part won't be a problem for Conforto, one of three former Little League World Series participants who will compete in the Little League Classic on Sunday Night Baseball. (Todd Frazier and Scott Kingery are the others.) A recently founded tradition, the Classic pits the Mets and Phillies against each other at Bowman Field, following a day of interacting with Little League players across town. Having not returned to Williamsport for 14 years, Conforto is curious to see how much he remembers, how much déjà vu he'll experience, what emotions he'll feel.
"It will be fun to hang out with the kids," Conforto said. "It will be refreshing. We're getting into the middle of August, getting toward the end of the year, just a short amount of days and games. It can wear on you a little bit, so I think just having those kids around us will energize us a little bit. I just think it will be unique. It will be different than the day-in, day-out grind of the season. So I'm excited about it."
Although Conforto reminisces about the Little League World Series from time to time, he was a year younger than most of his teammates that season, and did not remain close friends with many of them. Only one of his Redmond teammates played baseball past high school, according to Conforto, who marvels at what that group was able to accomplish.
Years before the days of YouTube, Conforto says he's never actually watched his own performance, despite the fact that his grandparents recorded it on a VHS tape. (He went 6-for-10 with four runs scored.) . He is curious to see what footage ESPN unearths from its own archive, and airs on Sunday. More than that, Conforto is eager to relive his experiences of 14 years ago.
"Just the fact that they can bring kids from all over the world, it's really unique," Conforto said. "For me personally, it made me want to continue my career in baseball. It's just a really special tournament, and I think they're doing a good thing pairing it with MLB. There's a lot of travel ball and stuff, and some kids are moving away from Little League, but I thought that was a good progression into moving into that next level of baseball." (A DiComo - MLB.com - Aug 18, 2018)
For years, Conforto’s Mets teammates have called him “Scooter,” a nickname they gave him because they thought it was funny and because he didn’t already have one.
2020 Season: The 27-year-old slashed .322/.412/.515 with 9 homers and 31 RBI in 54 games.
2021 Season: The slugger slashed .232/.344/.384 with a 106, slightly above average production thanks, mainly, to all the walks he took. While swinging the bat, he didn’t inflict too much damage, with 14 home runs in 125 games and 479 plate appearances.
It was an uncharacteristic down year for Conforto, a career .255/.356/.468 hitter with a 124 wRC+. He couldn’t replicate his 2019-2020 form, when he slashed .274/.376/.499 in 205 games combined. (Andres Chavez - October 10, 2021)
June 2014: Conforto was the Mets first round pick in the draft, the 10th player chosen. And Michael signed for a bonus of $2,970,800, via scout Jim Reeves.
Jan 11. 2019: Conforto avoided arbitration, signing a one-year deal with the Mets for $4 million.
Jan 10, 2020: Conforto and the Mets avoided arbitration by agreeing to a $8 million deal.
- Jan 15, 2021: Conforto and the Mets avoided arbitration by agreeing to a $12.2 million deal.
|Birth City:||Seattle, WA|
|Draft:||Mets #1 - 2014 - Out of Oregon State Univ.|
Conforto displays some impressive lefthanded power from his strong, compact frame at 6-foot-2, 217 pounds. He is an RBI machine. His power comes at a price—contact. But, he has 60 power on the 20-80 scale.
His power is to any part of the park, and his homers are equally distributed. But Michael's powerful lefthanded stroke is yet to really be unlocked. Wait until he learns to turn on inside fastball and pull them for home runs. The Mets say he has the most usable power in their system.
One scout in 2015: “Conforto’s got a little bit more of an uppercut and an uphill swing, and I mean that in a very good way. It’s a leveled bat that’s in the zone a long time, and it’s a classic lefthanded power swing to all fields. He’s going to hit home runs to all fields.”
Michael does a very good job of delivering the bat head to the ball.
He has a good set-up with an easy, fluid, balanced lefthanded swing. His hands are short and quick to the ball. But his bat stays in the zone a long time. He covers the plate and doesn't get cheated, keeping his lefthanded swing under control. He uses his hands well.
He is a fine hitter who wins games when there are two outs. He is a special hitter and competitor. He is an excellent hitter with two strikes on him.
Michael is not willing to chase a ball out of the zone.
Conforto has a compact righthanded swing with above-average bat speed and plus raw power to the pull side. Scouts like his mature approach, though he occasionally gets caught out front and chops through the ball, as one scout put it.
"He's matured as a hitter and simply gotten better. Early in his career, he got fooled on balls out if the zone, and off-speed, but he just kept getting netter and better. The numbers show that," said Pat Casey, Oregon State coach.
Michael will very rarely chase pitches into the dirt. He is strong enough to hit the ball out of any park. But he swings and misses a lot.
But in 2014, Conforto showed a much more disciplined approach. He is now patient at the plate.
"One of the strengths is the patience, but he also has power," Mets VP of Scouting Paul DePodesta said in June 2014. "He is going to make a pitcher come in with a pitch that the pitcher doesn’t want to come in with. And then he’s really going to unleash on the ball. That’s probably one of his biggest strengths.
“This is a guy who has the ability to lay off pitches and the ability to really hurt pitchers when they make a mistake with him."
Pitchers throw him something off-speed and he’d make an adjustment once he saw it. Good hitters can do that. Michael uses the whole field.
His bat will have to carry him. His glove's not that impressive. "It's a real fit for what we like as a hitter—the patience, the discipline," Tommy Tanous, the Mets director of amateur scouting, said. "This is a hitter with very few weaknesses."
Like any young position player, Conforto will need experience against same-handed pitchers and to become deadly versus breaking balls. He’s got a short swing. He’s got a quick bat through the strike zone.
Michael needs to do a better job turning on hard stuff over the inner half, but he has the special hand-eye coordination and feel for the strike zone to be a plus hitter with above-average to plus pop.
August 3, 2015: In his first game appearance since a one-day quasi-demotion to Triple-A Las Vegas, Conforto hit his first career homer—a monstrous, three-run blast to center field that was projected to land 435 feet away, with an exit velocity of 112 mph.
Conforto is a well-proportioned athlete with the look of a football linebacker. His strength is a tremendous asset, but he is very measured in his approach at the plate. Conforto drives his strong hands through the ball, and he generates plenty of loft and backspin with his uppercut swing.
Using the entire field, Conforto is good at taking the pitch where it is thrown and hitting the gaps. His approach results in a consistently good batting average, making hitting his best overall current tool.
A patient and well-disciplined hitter, Conforto sees lots of pitches, makes loud contact and isn't at all hesitant about accepting a base on balls. (Pleskoff - mlb.com - 8/4/15)
Keith Hernandez compares Conforto's short, compact swing to Don Mattingly's. Michael's swing was sculpted in the late nights of Northwest winters.
As a teenager, Conforto played for Ray Atkinson's Seattle-based travel teams in the summer. When the temperature dropped, Conforto showed up after football practice (he played quarterback and safety) several times a week to Atkinson's batting cage in nearby Maltby, to swing as his teeth chattered. Regulars nicknamed the poorly insulated warehouse "The Rocky Balboa Training Facility."
"You could have put the beef in there it was so cold," Atkinson said.
The fastball has never given him much trouble.
"He was 13 years old and we cranked up the pitching machine to 90 mph," Atkinson said. "We had 18-year-old kids in there working out and trying to hit. Michael walks in there and turns on a 90-mph fastball."
"Oh my God," Atkinson thought. "How did a 13-year-old do that?" (Joe Trezza/2015)
He spent most of his life playing above his age, but not over his head. Conforto was the only 11-year-old on the Redmond, Washington team that represented the Northwest Region in the 2004 Little League World Series. As a 15-year-old, he played on 18-year-old summer teams. And once he blasted four home runs in a tournament game in Reno, Nevada. (Joe Trezza - 2015)
Aug. 27, 2018: Conforto has the longest recorded home run for the Mets.
Distance: 472 feet.
Conforto got all of one against the Cubs' Jon Lester, crushing a 109.8 mph, 472-foot home run way, way out to dead center at Wrigley Field. With that sweet left-handed swing, Conforto surpassed fellow Mets slugger Yoenis Cespedes for the team's longest home run since Statcast™ began tracking. Cespedes hit his earlier in the same season with a 463-foot homer on April 24.
March 14, 2019: The aesthetics of Conforto's swing were on display in Port St. Lucie. Taking batting practice in a short-sleeved hooded sweatshirt, Conforto drove a ball to the right-field fence in one sharp, compact motion. His next swing sent another ball diving toward center. Then left. Then right. Then center again. There is no jerkiness to Conforto’s motion, no apparent wasted effort. Growing up northeast of Seattle, Conforto idolized Ken Griffey Jr. His own swing elicits similar reactions.
“It is a pretty swing,” Mets hitting coach Chili Davis says. “A lot of lefties have pretty swings. If you have an ugly lefthanded swing, you’re not going to hit.”
One of the few remaining questions for Conforto is how much higher he can rise. Earlier this spring, Mets manager Mickey Callaway gushed that Conforto “can be one of the best lefthanded hitters in the league.” Google a list of 2019 Major League breakout candidates and Conforto is likely to be on it. “He has a very unique and cool ability to put together the next 10 to 15 years in the league and be a superstar-caliber player,” said Curt Nelson, Conforto’s offseason swing coach.
“We’ve all seen articles from people expecting the breakout, MVP-type kind of a year. A lot of things have to go right for that to happen, but at the end of the day, he’s fully capable of being one of the top 5, top 10 hitters in the game right now.”
Nelson, who met Conforto when he was a middle schooler at the Atkinson Baseball Academy in Kirkland, Wash., has witnessed few wholesale changes in his swing since that time. Video from the 2004 Little League World Series reveals the same compact stroke, the same steady bat path capable of spraying balls to each third of the field. It is a swing, Nelson says, that works best when unleashed at 70-percent effort, when it’s free and easy and athletic. While Nelson doesn’t buy into the notion that a pretty swing is necessarily an effective one, he knows the aesthetics can’t hurt. Prettiness hints at the athleticism within.
“It actually makes some people mad,” Nelson said. “When other hitters are watching him, they’re going, ‘Oh my God, this guy’s not even trying and the ball’s going so far. How is that possible?’ It’s a gift. It really is. He’s exceptionally gifted, and he does a lot of things really well.”
What Conforto does better than just about anyone is hit to the opposite field. Since he debuted in July 2015, only eight Major Leaguers—four of them lefties—have hit more opposite-field homers than him, according to Statcast. Nearly 40 percent of Conforto’s extra-base hits have gone to left and left-center.
“You stop thinking about what’s going on and start focusing on what’s coming at you,” Conforto said. “You relax a little bit. You’re not so tight up there. You’re just hitting.”
That is when his swing is at its best. With Nelson, Conforto analyzes video of his motion from side and back angles, sometimes hitting in front of an array of mirrors so he can adjust mechanical flaws on the fly. He pounds them into his muscle memory and then, once the season begins, tries to avoid video as much as possible. The swing is enough.
“It’s natural,” Davis said. “And we try to keep it natural with him.” (A Dicomo - MLB.com - March 14, 2019)
Dec 9, 2020: Conforto made the All-MLB Second Team, in recognition of a season that saw him hit .322/.412/.515 with nine home runs and 31 RBIs, setting career highs in batting average and on-base percentage.
2020 Season: “It’s an anxiety level sometimes that a team can get to when they have runners in scoring position,” Rojas said. “They just want to do a little more.”
For both Conforto and the Mets, that was an issue throughout the 2020 season.
Conforto’s 2020 batting average: .322, 8th in MLB
With runners in scoring position: .277, 85th in MLB
With runners in scoring position and two outs: .240, 161st in MLB
OPS: .927, 20th in MLB
With runners in scoring position: .807, 110th in MLB
With runners in scoring position and two outs: .687, 180th in MLB
As a team, the Mets led the league in batting average in 2020 but ranked 22nd with men on base. Although some modern theories state that hitters’ averages with runners in scoring position don’t matter, because the sample sizes will never be big enough to normalize in a given season, most players strongly disagree with that take. Conforto is one of them, calling the idea of hitting in clutch spots “incredibly important.”
“It’s much easier to feel good about a game when you’re 0-for-4 but you put a ball in play to bring in a run, or you sacrifice fly, or you did something to help the team win,” Conforto said. “I think it’s a huge part of this game. That’s how you win games. That’s how you stay in games. I would say it’s one of the most important things, and that’s why we’re focusing so hard on trying to be better at it.”
And so Conforto will look to improve, knowing the Mets’ season depends upon it. On paper, Conforto is by far the most complete outfielder set to hit the free-agent market next winter: a 28-year-old former first-round draft pick who can hit for both power and average, with enough defensive skills to remain at a corner spot for years to come. Given all that, he’s likely to receive a significant contract no matter how he performs in 2021. (A DiComo - MLB.com - April 7, 2021)
- As of the start of the 2021 season, Michael's career Major League stats were: .259 batting average, 118 home runs with 341 RBI and 556 hits in in 2,145 at-bats.
- Conforto plays all three outfield positions. (2018)
- Conforto has an average arm.
Michael has worked hard to become a solid defender with a knack for making big plays, and his arm is solid-average, as is his range, average for left field (a 50 grade on the 20-80 scouting scale).
Slow afoot, Conforto is best suited to play left field, with average arm strength and average overall defensive ability. Conforto will likely reach most balls hit in his area. And he plays fearlessly.
But Michael needs to improve his routes and jumps. He's not going to win any Gold Gloves, but he is not a liability out there.
The Cubs were aggressive sending Jake Arrieta home on a single from second base. Playing his first career game in right, Conforto came up throwing when Arrieta, who had doubled with two outs in the fourth inning, came barreling home on a Tommy La Stella single.
Because Conforto's throw beat Arrieta home, Jake had to reroute his path to try to tag the plate with his left hand. Though home-plate umpire Eric Cooper initially called Arrieta safe, a replay clearly showed that Mets catcher Rene Rivera had tagged him.
"Great throw," Mets manager Terry Collins said of Conforto. "He's got a good arm and we know he's an accurate thrower. We've seen it in the past." (DiComo - MLB.com - 7/19/16)
- Sept 14, 2020: Conforto’s spectacular over-the-shoulder leaping catch against the Orioles has earned him the Play of the Week Award. With the bases loaded and the O’s leading 6-5 in the top of the sixth inning, Baltimore’s Rio Ruiz hit a two-out drive directly over Conforto’s head in right field that threatened to break the game open. But Conforto kept the ball in his sights, jumped, and made a full-extension grab over his shoulder to end the inning.
- Michael has below-average speed. But he steals a handful of bases each year. And he is an above-average baserunner.
Summer 2012: A stress fracture in his shin hampered his productivity. But he played through it for Team USA without ever complaining.
July 2017: Conforto landed on the 10-day disabled list with a lingering left hand bruise.
Aug 25, 2017: Conforto was on the DL with left shoulder dislocation.
September 2, 2017: The Mets announced that Conforto would undergo surgery to repair the torn capsule.
March 26-April 5, 2018: Conforto was on the DL with left shoulder dislocation.
May 16-26, 2019: Conforto was on the IL with a concussion. He collided with teammate Robinson Canó as the pair attempted to catch a fly ball in a game against the Nationals. He was placed on the 7-day concussion list.
Sept 24-28, 2020: Conforto was on the IL with left hammy tightness.
- May 17-June 23, 2021: Conforto was placed on the 10-day IL with a hamstring issue.