With the 2023 season in the rearview mirror, the New York Mets have more roster questions than answers going forward.
Aside from cornerstone players locked up long term, there are no guarantees as to who will fit into the team’s plans over the next couple of years. Much of the last few months of 2023 served as an audition for players hoping to solidify their future roster spot.
For a few Mets, 2023 might have seemed like a step back – but fans should hold out hope that these players can still be key contributors.
1) NY Mets to still believe in: Jeff McNeil
After winning the 2022 National League batting title and earning a four-year contract extension, Jeff McNeil regressed considerably in 2023.
Missing all but six games, McNeil hit .270, nearly sixty points off his league-leading clip the year prior. Most of his advanced batting metrics, like exit velocity and barrel rate, finished in the bottom twenty percent of all qualified major league hitters.
McNeil’s season splits, however, project optimism that he will return to form in 2024. Through the All-Star break, he was hitting .253 with just 17 extra-base hits, translating to an OPS (.659) well below league average. In the second half, McNeil rebounded to hit .291 and surpass his power totals from the first half in 22 fewer games before a partially torn elbow ligament forced him out in the season’s final week.
Critical to McNeil’s value going forward will be as much about his defensive versatility as it will be about reclaiming hit hitting prowess. He logged innings at six different positions in 2023 and, with so many of the Mets’ top prospects projected to be middle infielders/outfielders, could be used as more of a corner outfielder instead of second base.
As he enters his age 32 season, McNeil should still be an everyday weapon, provided he remains the player he was in the second half of 2023. A slow start, however, could cost him playing time in favor of the Mets’ up-and-coming young core, even with a few years left on his current deal.