Analysis

Published on December 29th, 2015 | by Josh Chapdelaine

6

In Michael Conforto, the Mets have replaced Yoénis Cespdes

The New York Mets will look to 23-year-old outfielder Michael Conforto to replace Yoénis Cespedes’ production in 2016.

Conforto batted .270/.335/.506 in 56 major-league games during his rookie season. After Conforto hit .200 over his first 48 plate appearances, he produced a .291 batting average in his final 146 regular season plate appearances. Despite a sluggish start, he finished sixth among MLB rookies in slugging percentage. Steamer projects the 2014 first-round draft selection will play in 135 games, bat .260/.321/.435 with 19 home runs and produce 2.3 fWAR.

The Mets will field an outfield of Michael Conforto in left field, a platoon of Alejandro De Aza and Juan Lagares in center field, and Curtis Granderson in right field. Conforto projects as the Mets’ everyday left fielder, but the team was reluctant to play Conforto against left-handed pitching in 2015 — he accumulated only 15 plate appearances against southpaws last season. He will presumably see an increased workload against left-handed pitching in 2016, but the Mets are still in the market for a supplementary outfielder that can spell Conforto against tough lefties.

Conforto’s nine home runs project to 26 over 162 games and 2.1 fWAR projects to 6.1, All-Star level production. Overall, he has the potential to not only equal Cespedes’ production over a full season, but perhaps surpass it with above-average defense. Though he was rated as an above-average defender in 2015, his major-league playing sample is not yet sufficient enough to create an accurate defensive profile.

Cespedes is projected to play in 146 games, bat .266/.312/.473 and produce 3.1 fWAR with 27 home runs, according to Steamer. The 30-year-old hit a career-high 35 home runs in 2015, including a torrid 17 during the season’s final two months after being dealt from Detroit to New York. Cespedes’ offensive surge helped lead the Mets to their first National League East crown since 2006, but his spike was unlike any other he had ever produced. His flaws — defensively, high strikeout percentage and low on-base percentage — stand out, but his ability to carry an offense is also well documented.

Michael Conforto will earn $500,000 in 2016, while Cespedes is seeking a long term contract valued annually between $20-25 million. If the Mets can add one-to-two additional wins through supplemental free agent signings, the team will have successfully replaced Cespedes’ production while avoiding paying Cespedes during his age 33-35 seasons, a time when the team will need to focus on impending free agency and rising salaries for its starting pitchers.

The Mets can be both economical and create a perennial contender — the two are not mutually exclusive. In Conforto, the Mets have a prodigal outfielder who will help adequately replace Cespedes.

Photo credit: Michael G. Baron

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About the Author

Josh Chapdelaine started Around Citi in Oct. 2010 as a high school senior looking to venture into new media. The original inception of the site ran through March 2011 before Chapdelaine looked to outside endeavors. He returned to his Around Citi roots in Jan. 2013.



  • Al

    If you can say this you know nothing about the dynamics of a baseball lineup.
    Or you are a Wilpon.
    When Ces came to the Mets he changed the entire lineup.
    Much like Piazza in 1998.
    Please go to Metsmerized to see how the real mets fans feel.

    • Josh Chapdelaine

      Al, I respectfully disagree. In allowing Cespedes to walk, Conforto is given greater opportunity to mature. With the addition of a supplementary outfielder to spell Conforto and perhaps Granderson, the a Mets create flexibility and depth — two key factors to the team’s 2015 success.

      His addition to the lineup unquestionably helped change the team’s production, but to discount moves that created depth surrounding him — Johnson, Uribe, d’Arnaud and Wright — you miss that the entire lineup became average-to-above-average major-league talent. He was a superstar for a month, without question, but he was not the sole reason the Mets made the playoffs.

      • Al

        Josh, Nothing personal even though it sounded that way.
        I do believe the feeling of the majority of fans out there are similar to mine. I don’t care if it’s cespedes or upton or another HR threat. I do believe that’s needed in a lineup. Mix that in with no additional relievers of substance (O’day etc ) Yankees getting chapman. Cubs going for it. Etc. and I believe the ownership has let fans down here even worse now because we’re capable of winning it all now. The promise of “if you support the club we’ll spend” has been tested and the Wilpons have lied. This is a ny market and last I looked they are not discounting tickets or other areas of revenue. This loyal fan base deserves better.
        It really is appalling and the players know it too. An example is that Sydergaard
        verbalized the desire for Cespedes as well.

        • Josh Chapdelaine

          No disrespect taken; I do understand a segment of fans feel betrayed by the team for committing to an increased payroll in correlation with a successful season and increased attendance.
          Despite that, I think the club is doing its due diligence and has recognized that it is in prime position to once again win the National League East. It is allowing itself flexibility to once again mid-season as it did last year. Though Syndergaard’s expression certainly echoes the sentiments of many, I think waiting to see how Sandy Alderson fills out the roster is important.

  • Al

    All good Josh,
    Good points. The rest of the off season and what they do during the year will be crucial. The season will be very interesting.
    Gotta love that pitching.
    You seem like a nice guy.
    Here’s to more Met debating this season. Lol.
    Happy and Healthy New Year to you and your friends and family.
    Oh yeah and Let’s go Mets!

  • The Big Chill

    I like Conforto, I like him A LOT! But he’s nowhere NEAR as scary as Cespedes was.

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