Jeff McNeil may have won only the second batting title in New York Mets history during the 2022 campaign. He joined Jose Reyes on this exclusive list featuring only two players in team history.
McNeil’s .326 average, however, only ranks sixth in franchise history for a single season. Reyes’ .337 from his 2011 batting title performance is third.
For the longest time, it was the .340 hit by Cleon Jones in 1969 that set the mark for the best in franchise history. It all changed in 1998 when John Olerud hit .354.
Mets batting average record remains unchallenged despite two batting titles
What McNeil and Reyes have that Olerud never did achieve with the Mets is a batting title. When Olerud hit .354 in 1998, Larry Walker batted .363. There would be no batting title for the Mets first baseman that year.
In Olerud’s three seasons with the Mets, he was a throwback type of first baseman that surely reminded many fans of Keith Hernandez. He hit with okay power. A bigger focus of his at the plate was putting the ball in play and trying to get a hit at least three times out of every ten at-bats.
The franchise-setting .354 batting average in 1998 was so fantastic that it gave Olerud exclusivity in his own club. Despite not hitting over .300 in either of his other two seasons in New York (he was close, though), Olerud has been the only one to suit up for the orange and blue to finish with enough at-bats to qualify for their all-time batting leaders AND have an average over .300. At .315, he more than inched across it.
McNeil’s consistent play since his major league debut, sans the down 2021 year, has given him enough at-bats and a high enough average to join Olerud for now. He could pass Olerud one day. What won’t be easy is to hit .354 or better in a season.
Backed by 197 hits in 1998, Olerud was also helped by his patience. He drew 96 walks that year, too. It was the kind of season we may never see again from a Mets player.