Best Mets Of All Time: No. 30 Michael Conforto
Michael Conforto may have only been with the Mets for five years, but he has already established himself as one of the best outfielders in team history, and he is the best Mets player to ever wear the number 30.
On July 24, 2015, Conforto was finally called up to the majors after fans had been clamoring for him for at least a month. At that time, the Mets offense was injury riddled, and the back-ups of the back-ups just couldn’t hit. An early season lead turned into a deficit, and the team needed capable bats.
What was surprising about Conforto wasn’t that he was ready to hit despite spending little time in Double-A, but rather, it was the fact his defense was much better than advertised. More than anything, Conforto was Major League ready little over one year from being drafted in high school:
In that rookie year, Conforto hit an impressive .270/.335/.506 with 14 doubles, nine homers, and 26 RBI in 56 games. He spend that time platooning with the veteran Michael Cuddyer, and he would show he was ready for the highest level of competition in the postseason. In his first ever postseason at-bat, he would homer off of Zack Greinke:
That was nothing compared to what we would see in the World Series. In the five game series against the Royals, Conforto hit .333/.313/.733 with two homers and four RBI. In that World Series, Conforto led all players in slugging, and he trailed only Curtis Granderson in OPS. He also became the first ever Mets player to have a two home run game in the World Series:
With those homers, he became just the third ever player to play in the Little League World Series, College World Series, and the World Series. He is the only person to homer in all of them. This is how you set the stage for stardom.
It seemed Conforto was just doing that in the beginning of the 2016 season. That was until he suffered a wrist injury which hampered his ability to hit. It was mostly a lost season, but we did see Conforto begin to learn center and right that season in an effort to help the team. This is just an example of the type of team first player he is and the type of leader he would become.
With the wrist injury behind him, Conforto emerged as one of the best players in baseball in 2017. He would become a new style of lead-0ff hitter, and he would become an All-Star. It was one the way to becoming a historically great season in Mets history. At 24, he seemed to be scratching the surface of his immense talent. That’s what made his shoulder injury all the more devastating.
The good news is Conforto would recover. After rushing back from the injury (in typical Mets fashion), Conforto would have a good year with a 122 OPS+ and 2.7 WAR. Notably, he would go off on a tear to finish that season with a .286/.365/.616 batting line in September.
Last year, Conforto re-emerged as a top player on the Mets. Again, to help the team, he played right field everyday instead of his natural left field. He was unheralded for his work there. While he was not even a finalist for the Gold Glove, he would tie Jason Heyward for the best OAA among National League right fielders.
More than the defense, we saw his bat return to what we expected from him all along. In 151 games, Conforto would hit .257/.363/.494 with 29 doubles, a triple, 33 homers, and 92 RBI. It wasn’t just that he hit well, it was the fact he got the big hits when the Mets needed them from him. That was especially the case late in the season when he had a walk-off hit which began the Mets bizarre streak of ripping off each others’ jerseys:
What is amazing with Conforto is while he is beginning to etch his name into the Mets record books, he has yet to enter his prime. At the moment, he has already made his way onto the Mets top 10 all-time rankings in SLG, OPS, and OPS+ (8th). By WAR, he is already the Mets third best left fielder trailing just Cleon Jones and Kevin McReynolds.
Honestly, he is one good season away from over taking both. He is also seventh in WAR among all outfielders. In his next full season, he will very likely jump to fifth, and he will soon be among the ranks of Carlos Beltran and Darryl Strawberry as the best outfielders to ever wear a Mets uniform.
That’s exactly what Conforto is and will continue to be. He is one of the best players to ever wear a Mets uniform, and he is the best Mets player to ever wear the number 30.
3. Curtis Granderson
4. Lenny Dykstra
5. David Wright
6. Wally Backman
7. Jose Reyes
8. Gary Carter
9. Todd Hundley
10. Rey Ordonez
11. Wayne Garrett
12. John Stearns
13. Edgardo Alfonzo
14. Gil Hodges
15. Carlos Beltran
16. Dwight Gooden
17. Keith Hernandez
18. Darryl Strawberry
19. Bob Ojeda
20. Howard Johnson
21. Cleon Jones
22. Al Leiter
23. Bernard Gilkey
24. Art Shamsky
25. Pedro Feliciano
26. Terry Leach
27. Jeurys Familia
28. Daniel Murphy
29. Frank Viola