Mets: Jeff McNeil and his rookie status for 2019 no longer intact
By Tim Boyle
The 2018 season is now the official rookie year for New York Mets infielder Jeff McNeil.
Jeff McNeil crossed a threshold this week. When he suits up for the 2019 New York Mets, he won’t have Rookie of the Year eligibility. The number of at-bats he had in 2018 made sure of that.
Capturing Rookie of the Year honors was certainly no goal of McNeil’s when the year began. Quite frankly, he’s probably shocked to see himself on a big league roster.
Usually, by 26, anyone who will have an impact in the major leagues has already sipped from the MLB mug. Call McNeil a late-bloomer or a guy who suffered through circumstances to hold him back. Whatever it is you call him, you’ll have to drop the “rookie” adjective next year.
I wonder, though, if McNeil did receive a promotion earlier in 2018, would he have a shot at the Rookie of the Year award?
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I’m guessing he receives at least mild consideration. A win would require historic numbers. Specifically, McNeil would need a batting average over .400 or at least a ton of run-production.
Unfortunately, no matter what he does, there’s no chance at bringing home a ROY. Rookies who have been around in the big leagues longer, like Ronald Acuna, have an advantage over late-season call-ups like McNeil. Plus, Acuna’s having a season a veteran could envy.
It’s nothing new to see the Mets promote a rookie late into the season. During the era of the young aces, just about everyone made their MLB debut too far into the year for a true shot at winning the best freshman award. Jacob deGrom had a relatively early start and a weaker class to compete against. This allowed him to win Rookie of the Year despite his absence on Opening Day.
McNeil is a good story for 2018 regardless of this missed opportunity. Unlike the Peter Alonso saga which ends with another notable minor leaguer from this season sitting on his couch, this tale’s final act includes McNeil hitting in the big leagues.
There’s no denying the Mets waited too long to summon McNeil. Clearly, the plan involved waiting until Asdrubal Cabrera was traded.
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Hopefully, McNeil has a big role with the 2019 Mets. Rookie jitters out of the way, it’s a year to avoid the sophomore slump.