Numerous starters are having bounceback years
Apart from the injuries that the Mets faced last year, what doomed the team from having a successful season was that there were several key players in their lineup that underperformed, the most notable including Francisco Lindor and Jeff McNeil.
Lindor suffered the Queens curse when he arrived last season. He underperformed following the trade from Cleveland, compiling a .230/.322/.412 slash line with 20 HR and 63 RBI. However, to Lindor’s credit, he made the necessary adjustments to playing in New York and to his swing mechanics. He has rebounded in a big way in 2022, entrenching himself in the heart of the Mets lineup. Usually slotted as a third batter this season, Lindor has taken full advantage of the opportunity.
To top off Lindor’s great year, he will finish the season with the most RBI by a Mets shortstop in a single-season (beating Jose Reyes’s record of 93).
Meanwhile, McNeil is another hitter who has regained his old form. In 2021, McNeil struggled mightily, not accumulating the hits that Mets fans were normally accustomed to seeing from him. He ended the 2021 season with a .251/.319/.361 batting line over 120 games, unable to get into a solid groove the entire season.
This season, McNeil has cut down his strikeout rate, and his batting average is back over .300. There was a solid argument to be made that McNeil was the best player in the National League during the month of August. McNeil’s important skill in the team’s lineup is his ability to make contact and put balls in play. That is why McNeil, apart from last season, always cumulated batting averages over .300 and an on-base percentage that was one of the best on the team.
The Mets didn’t have McNeil last year performing at a high level, as evidenced by a OPS+ of 87, which is well below the league average. As we approach the end of the season, McNeil’s OPS+ sits above 130, making him one of the most valuable hitters in the league. His triumphant return back to being the player he was is part of the reason why the Mets offense is much deeper and more potent this season compared to last year.
Lindor and McNeil slot in the heart of the Mets lineup, and their continued solid performance will be critical for the team in the postseason.