Since their inception, the New York Mets have always been branded as the little brothers to the Yankees in this city. There’s really no way you can argue that, considering that the Bronx Bombers are the most successful North American sports franchise ever.
It seems as though the order has been restored, at least for the time being, given the Yankees’ solid start to the 2017 season and the Mets’, well, less-than-ideal beginning.
And while the Yankees’ Aaron Judge has stolen the headlines in the Big Apple, the Mets have seen a young star of their own develop into one of their most valuable bats.
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Almost a year younger than Judge, the 24-year-old Conforto looks as though he put his struggles from 2016 firmly behind him through the first quarter of the season.
Within a team that finds new ways to disappoint its fans, he has been a rare bright spot that has improved by leaps and bounds compared to last year when he was sent down to triple-A.
2016 stats: 109 games, .220 batting average, .310 on-base percentage, 12 home runs, 42 RBI
2017 stats: 40 games, .333 batting average, .425 on-base percentage, 13 home runs, 31 RBI
Those 13 home runs are just two off the major-league-leading pace that has been set by Judge in his first 41 games.
That’s pretty impressive considering the Mets were not even going to have Conforto on the MLB roster heading out of spring training. But thanks to Brandon Nimmo and Juan Lagares’ injury woes, the door was left cracked for the young lefty.
He kicked it down.
Regaining an ability to hit the ball to all fields for power, Conforto has looked considerably more patient while in the box. He’s been staying back and delivering power from his core instead of lunging at the pitch, which was an issue that plagued him last year.
While we are getting a bit ahead of ourselves, and it’s extremely unlikely that he could put up these numbers this year, Conforto is on pace to have the best, most well-rounded offensive season in franchise history.
That’s how good he’s been. So we dug up some the most well-rounded seasons in team history to compare it to:
Conforto (projected 2017 numbers): 150 games, .332 batting average, 48 home runs, 116 RBI
Darryl Strawberry (1987): 154 games, .284 average, 39 home runs, 104 RBI, 36 stolen bases
Howard Johnson (1989): 153 games, .287 average, 36 home runs, 101 RBI, 41 stolen bases
Bernard Gilkey (1996): 153 games, .317 average, 30 home runs, 117 RBI
Jon Olerud (1998): 160 games, .354 average (franchise record), .447 on-base percentage (franchise record), 22 home runs, 93 RBI
Mike Piazza (1999): 141 games, .303 average, 40 home runs, 124 RBI
Mike Piazza (2000): 136 games, .324 average, 38 home runs, 113 RBI
Carlos Beltran (2006): 140 games, .275 average, 41 home runs (tied franchise record), 116 RBI
David Wright (2007): 160 games, .325 average, 30 home runs, 107 RBI
David Wright (2008): 160 games, .302 average, 33 home runs, 124 RBI