Off the bat (up the middle, pasta diving Jeter!), I don’t know if Michael Conforto will be a sleeper. I’m drafting him like he’s not a sleeper, and I see some other ‘perts drafting him like he’s not a sleeper, but, then I see some common folk drafts (I’m so highfalutin!), and I think how on earth did Conforto last that long? That’s a sleeper. For unstints, I ranked Eddie Rosario last year in the top 75 overall and called him a sleeper. In some leagues, that would not have been a sleeper. Michael Conforto is going to be samesis in 2019. On a more philosophical note and worth discussing briefly, what a sleeper is changes depending on what company you’re keeping. What a sleeper is is (stutterer!) amorphous. In some leagues, Adalberto Mondesi might be a sleeper. In other leagues, he’ll be drafted in the top 15 (I’ve seen it, don’t @ me). Last year, I named Eddie Rosario and Ben Gamel as outfielder sleepers. Gamel sucked donkey balls, granted, but can you see how different those are in terms of sleeper? Yes? Good, then I can begin to belabor some other point. Last year, Conforto went 78/28/82/.243/3 in 543 ABs. Sounds like a poor man’s Piscotty. I will call him Piss-on-a-cot-ty and move right along! OR WILL I?! Damn, you reversal question, you nearly gave me a heart attack. Oh, you best believe there’s more where this came from, Conforto’s on the come, which is a phrase that I would never say in front of my mother. She has virgin ears, don’t tell me different. So, what can we expect from Michael Conforto for 2019 fantasy baseball and what makes him a sleeper?
Let’s drill down each stat, I like that. Keeps things easy peasy, hair so greasy (no lie, at least five of my friends signed my high school yearbook with that phrase). Last year, Conforto’s runs were 78 and RBIs were 82, and the Mets stopped hitting from June through mid-September, and didn’t send hitters to the plate every fifth day for deGrom. So, just a slightly better offense and Conforto’s runs and RBIs will be upticking. (The past tense of that is uptuck, by the way.) But how much will be uptucked? Last year, Conforto saw more ABs at cleanup than third and over hundred at-bats hitting fifth or lower. This year, I’d bet he hits mostly third and not lower than fifth. Cano moves to the two-hole, while McNeil, Amed and/or Nimmo move down, depending on who’s still there in April, and if Realmuto comes over. Conforto and the Mets won’t be historically bad again, at least not the top half of the lineup. So, net-net, runs and RBIs will go up. Next up, his home runs. His HR/FB% was 19.7% and 27.3% the past two years, respectively. Last year’s feels a tick low, and two years ago feels very high, but if he can hit homers at a rate of 20%, and fly balls at a 40% rate, which is around his career average, then he will hit 165 fly balls, and 33 of them all go for homers. I didn’t have to work hard to get him 33 homers. If he hits for a higher HR/FB% or hits more fly balls, he will hit more than 33 homers. That would be top 20 in the league. Easiest stat to write off is his speed. He doesn’t have much, but maybe he can steal five bags, likely closer to three. That’s fine. Final stat is his average. Last year, it was .243. That was with a .216 1st half, when he was just coming back from injury (he also only had 11 homers vs. 17 in the 2nd half). His 2nd half average was .273. The year before he hit .279. In Double-A in 2015, he hit .312. He hit .422 in Triple-A in 2016 (in only 33 games). Are you seeing a guy who will hit under .245? Because I don’t. He was top 40 for how few pitches he swung at outside the strike zone; 56th overall for first pitches he swung at; he lowered his K-rate from 2018 to 2019; his entire garbage average last year was predicated on a low BABIP (for him) and injury in the 1st half. He likely won’t hit .300, but odds are he won’t hit below .260 either. Conforto is about to breakout, which makes everything we know about the Mets wrong. For 2019, I’ll give Michael Conforto projections of 87/33/98/.268/4 in 569 ABs with a chance for more. And apologies in advance for giving Mets fans hope. Hope is a dangerous thing.