3) NY Mets second baseman Jeff McNeil loses a lot of value if he doesn’t hit .300
There is a lot to love about Jeff McNeil even in a season where he doesn’t challenge for a batting title. His ability to play multiple positions and do them well is valuable. He’s a bit quirky. He continues to put the bat on the ball even in years when he isn’t turning the contact into a whole lot of hits.
After leading the majors with a .326 batting average last year, McNeil came into this year with some raised expectations. Sadly, this has been a much closer repeat to what he did in 2021 when he slashed just .251/.319/.360 with 7 home runs. McNeil has already exceeded the number of plate appearances he had two seasons ago with similar slash line totals and even less power.
Hitting home runs isn’t what makes McNeil special. Batting .300 consistently is. Without it, what is he? McNeil becomes a solid utility man fitting into the lineup in the number eight or nine spot. The Mets have used him at the top and in the middle of the order regularly this season. It’s not where he belongs even in a season where he’s at his best.
Which version of McNeil would the Mets get next year? He has hit over .300 four times and looks bound to have a batting average nearer to .250 this year. Nobody is asking McNeil to even get to 10 home runs, a feat he did just once. All we need to erase our concerns is a season where he has a hit in more than once out of every four plate appearances.