Mets: Jeff McNeil could join Bobby Bonilla on an exclusive franchise All-Star list
Jeff McNeil has an opportunity to become the second player in New York Mets history to play in an All-Star Game at more than one position.
When Jeff McNeil went to the 2019 All-Star Game, he did so as an outfielder. Even though the Swiss Army Knife of the New York Mets played all over the field during non-exhibition games, it was left field where he first represented them in an All-Star Game and played more than anywhere else.
As soon as 2020, McNeil has a chance to go back to the Midsummer Classic and do something no Mets player since Bobby Bonilla has.
Back in 1993, Bonilla represented a forgettable Mets team in the All-Star Game. The team used him primarily in right field, but he found his way into the game as a left fielder to replace his former Pittsburgh Pirates teammate, Barry Bonds.
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Bonilla actually went back to the All-Star Game again in 1995 while still on the Mets’ payroll—typed with tongue firmly in cheek. In a half-season with New York where he played a whole lot of third base, Bonilla made his way into the game at the hot corner.
Through the 2019 season, Bonilla is the only Mets player to ever represent the team at two different positions in the All-Star Game.
I won’t count outfielders who played different spots beyond the infield dirt or a starting pitcher who came into the game as a reliever. We’re strictly looking at guys who went to the All-Star Game in a year where they played at a different spot during the regular season games. In which case, Bonilla is still alone, for now.
McNeil is expected to become the starting third baseman in Flushing for the 2020 season. Although this position offers some deep competition with men like Nolan Arenado, Manny Machado, and other great third basemen in the league, there’s no doubt he can fight for a spot if Mets fans remember to vote and he’s among the league leaders in batting average, hits, or anything else he does well.
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What makes McNeil even more special is he could even add a third position at some point in his career to his All-Star accomplishment. It may take a benching or lengthy injury for Robinson Cano to give him this opportunity to become the starting second baseman in Queens and get to the All-Star Game. Let’s hope he’s in Flushing long enough to outplay the Cano deal.
Even though McNeil may become only the second player in Mets history to accomplish this, plenty have in baseball history. Cal Ripken Jr. and Alex Rodriguez both started out as shortstops and then moved to third base later on in their career.
More dramatic moves include Gary Sheffield’s from third base to the outfield and Craig Biggio’s from catcher to second base. McNeil kind of falls into his own class because he has never really stuck at one spot nor does it look like he will.
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There’s no doubt McNeil has the talent to go back to more All-Star Games in the future. We can only guess what position he’ll play the next time he makes it there.