New York Mets have never had a player quite like Jeff McNeil
By Tim Boyle
Over the last year, New York Mets fans have been treated to the unique talents of Jeff McNeil. No one in franchise history has ever been quite like him.
In less than one year at the big league level, New York Mets super utility man Jeff McNeil has continued to surpass expectations. It’s one thing to hit .329 as a rookie in your first 225 at-bats. It’s another to come out and repeat the process with an even better pace in the following season.
McNeil is among the National League leaders in batting average this season. I’m not sure it gets much attention either. He’s one of the few hitting for a high average without knocking the ball over the fence with regularity. Power is not a large part of his game. If he’s going to hit .333 in his career, can we really complain?
Batting average isn’t appreciated the same way it was in the past. OBP became important at one point and then OPS passed it. Whatever happened to good-old-fashioned hitting the baseball and making it drop in?
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Unfortunately, McNeil didn’t have enough at-bats in 2018 to qualify among the league leaders in batting average. So, as far as history goes, he’s not yet on any list for a single-season batting average achievement.
Say his .329 batting average in 2018 held up for a full year. This would put him seventh all-time in Mets history ahead of Dave Magadan and a few points below Lance Johnson. Under the impression that he will hit around the same in 2019, this would add a second season in the franchise’s top ten.
No other Mets player is currently in the top ten single-season batting averages twice. Mike Piazza is close, but a two-time top-tenner he is not.
More impressive than this is how quickly McNeil developed into such a great MLB hitter. The other names who hit .325 or higher in Mets history did it as veterans. McNeil, though a little older than your average sophomore, is pretty brand spanking new to Major League Baseball. He’s green but doesn’t hit like it.
David Wright’s 2007 campaign, the fourth of his career, is the closest thing. The Captain hit .325 for the Mets that year, adding his name into the top ten.
McNeil has yet to reach greatness in his big league career. Yet to participate in 162 MLB games combined between last year and this one, he doesn’t even have a full season under his belt. Don’t allow this to take away from the uniqueness of the Flying Squirrel. He is a standout performer.
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Add to it his ability to play anywhere on the field, low strikeout rate, and other uncommon skills and you will see how one-of-a-kind this young man is.