It was roughly one year ago that Michael Conforto's All-Star season with the Mets was interrupted after dislocating his shoulder on a swing at Citi Field.
Finally, after months of struggling to get going, it appears Conforto is back to being the intense, competitive, classic left-handed No. 3 hitter the Mets took pride in last summer.
Since his batting average dropped to a season low .216 on July 15, Conforto is batting .320 with a .400 BABIP, a .400 OBP, .570 slugging percentage, six HR, seven doubles and 17 RBI in 26 games, during which the Mets are 13-13.
I've been saying since 2015 that Conforto is capable of being the face of this franchise and a perennial contender for the batting title. The thing is, despite already being 25 years old with 1,443 plate appearances under his belt, he's only just now getting a chance to play a full season in the big leagues. Unfortunately, it hasn't been a full, healthy season in the big leagues.
Last August, Conforto left a game against the D-backs with a dislocated left shoulder after he swung and missed at a pitch and fell to the ground, clutching his shoulder in pain.
"It turns your stomach," Conforto's manager last season, Terry Collins, said at the time of the injury. "A young player who's having a tremendous year, really making a name for himself, to go down with an injury like that, it's tough to watch."
The x-rays on his shoulder were negative, but an MRI later revealed a tear in the posterior capsule, which eventually led to a surgery that had little precedent from which to gauge his return.
As a result, it was repeatedly said by team officials this past winter that Conforto would not likely be back with the team until April or May of this season. However, clearly feeling strong and ahead of schedule, Conforto returned in March and played full time as early as Opening Day.
It's fair to assume his initial failure to launch in 2018 had a lot -- if not everything -- to do with being less than 100 percent early in the season. Today, though, Conforto again looks calm, confident and strong at the plate and in the field.
The sad reality is that, regardless of how he hits between now and October, Conforto is likely one of the only players on the roster guaranteed to be in next season's Opening Day lineup. The rest of the team's young position players, including Brandon Nimmo and Amed Rosario, still have something to prove, especially if a new GM will control their fate in a few months.
Conforto, however, has persevered through demotions and promotions, has postseason experience, an All Star appearance under his belt, a track record of success, and one major injury to blame if 2018 is viewed as having a setback.
The team's new GM is going to have to work around, work with or trade Jay Bruce. He or she will need to settle on internal options or find new talent to play first, second and third base, catcher, fill multiple spots in the bullpen, figure out what to do with Yoenis Cespedes, and possibly acquire a mid-rotation starting pitcher (depending on if Jacob deGrom or Noah Syndergaard is traded).
It's a lot of work and a lot of question marks in need of being answered.
Thankfully, based on what Conforto was doing prior to dislocating his shoulder, and based on what he's been doing the past six weeks, he has clearly returned to being a solution not a problem.
Matthew Cerrone (Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Contact) is lead writer of MetsBlog.com, which he created in 2003. He also hosts the MetsBlog Podcast, which you can subscribe to here. His new book, The New York Mets Fans' Bucket List, details 44 things every Mets fan should experience during their lifetime. To check it out, click here!