Mets Exit Interview: Jeff McNeil proved he is for real in 2019

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DENVER, COLORADO – SEPTEMBER 18: Jeff McNeil #6 of the New York Mets circles the bases after hitting a solo home run in the first inning against the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field on September 18, 2019 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)

In 2019, New York Mets super-utility man Jeff McNeil showed us all he’s the real deal when it comes to playing baseball.

Ever since Jeff McNeil was called up in late July 2018, he has been one of the best hitters on the New York Mets. After McNeil batted .329 with a .381 OBP in 63 games for the Mets in the second half of 2018, it looked like the Mets found their second basemen of the future.

However, going into 2019, McNeil was still not being taken seriously by the Mets front office. During the offseason, the Mets acquired second basemen Robinson Canó and infielder Jed Lowrie, filling up their infield without a spot for McNeil.

However, with injuries to Lowrie and outfielder Brandon Nimmo, McNeil was able to play every day for the Mets in 2019. Playing outfield, third base, and second base, McNeil proved the Mets made a mistake when they didn’t commit to him as a starter last offseason.

With the 2019 season complete, it’s time to review what went right, what went wrong, and what we should expect from Jeff McNeil in 2020.

What Went Right

McNeil proved that his 2018 season was not a fluke, as he had an even better season in 2019.  McNeil batted .318, which ranked 6th in the majors. McNeil had an OBP of .384, which tied with Xander Bogaerts for 13th in the majors. McNeil spent the majority of the season leading off for the Mets, or batting in the two-hole since no one else on the Mets got on base as often as he did.

McNeil hit 23 home runs, after only hitting 3 over two months last season. McNeil’s wRC+ ranked 9th overall, one spot ahead of Pete Alonso. McNeil had an OPS of .916, which tied him with Rafael Devers for 22nd in the majors.

McNeil struck out in only 13.2% of his plate appearances, which tied with Wilson Ramos and Jose Iglesias for the 12th lowest strikeout rate in baseball.

In August, on his 599th career AB, McNeil became the fastest Mets player to reach 200 hits. McNeil broke Dave Magadan’s record of 667 AB.

Overall, McNeil was worth 4.6 fWAR, which was tied with Bryce Harper and Ozzie Albies for 25th best amongst hitters. Not bad company for McNeil, who solidified his place as one of the best hitters in all of baseball.

McNeil was selected for the 2019 All-Star Game as a reserve, the first All-Star game of his career. While McNeil was being projected as a utility infielder his whole career, this season he proved he is actually an All-Star and deserved his role atop the Mets starting lineup.

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