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New York Mets: Three Jeff McNeil predictions for the 2020 season

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - JULY 20: Jeff McNeil #6 of the New York Mets swings and watches the flight of his ball as he hits a two-run home run against the San Francisco Giants in the top of the fifth inning at Oracle Park on July 20, 2019 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
SAN FRANCISCO, CA - JULY 20: Jeff McNeil #6 of the New York Mets swings and watches the flight of his ball as he hits a two-run home run against the San Francisco Giants in the top of the fifth inning at Oracle Park on July 20, 2019 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
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CLEVELAND, OHIO – JULY 09: Jeff McNeil #6 of the New York Mets participates in the 2019 MLB All-Star Game at Progressive Field on July 09, 2019 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)

Jeff McNeil has done nothing but hit since joining the New York Mets. This is what I’m predicting for the team’s Swiss Army knife in 2020.

New York Mets super-utility man Jeff McNeil would probably like a word with Alex Bregman.

Back in 2019, Bregman was quoted in a Wall Street Journal article saying “All the hitters don’t care about OPS…We don’t care about batting average”. In an era where offense is defined by slugging metrics and launch angle, McNeil turned that narrative on its head, at least for himself and rode a contact-based approach to a .319 batting average and an All-Star selection.

Playing without a true position for most of the year, McNeil bounced around the diamond with stints at second base, third base, and the outfield. His production without a true position was rewarded when new manager Carlos Beltran penciled him in as the team’s starting third baseman for the 2020 season.

With McNeil pegged for an everyday role this upcoming season, now seems like an appropriate time to make some educated guesses as to what his upcoming season will entail. Will he replicate his 2019 season? Will it be a fluke? Let’s find out. Here are three predictions for Jeff McNeil in 2020.

National League Batting Champion

McNeil’s first full season as a pro was defined by his position in the NL batting title race. Ultimately, his .319 batting average was good for fourth in the league, behind Anthony Rendon, Ketel Marte, and Christian Yelich.

It’s not implausible to believe that McNeil can be consistent enough to be the Mets second-ever batting champion and first since Jose Reyes in 2011. Part of the success of his contact first approach can be attributed to his knobless bat, a tool he has used since the minors which has carried him to his current role on the big league club.

With Rendon switching leagues and Yelich recovering from a season-ending injury, Marte could be McNeil’s biggest competition for the batting crown this year.

That being said, Baseball-Reference projects McNeil to have a better season batting average wise than Marte, so theoretically it is possible that McNeil could face very little competition in the batting crown race in 2020.

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