Jeff McNeil's slump has been the most frustrating of the 2024 season

His batting average his better than some of his peers but many of his other numbers are hollow.
Chicago Cubs v New York Mets
Chicago Cubs v New York Mets / Sarah Stier/GettyImages

Nearly every member of the New York Mets roster has gone through some sort of an off-period already this season. Fans have been supportive of the team with the only detractors being those who were unsatisfied with the roster from the start.

Francisco Lindor’s struggles were the most high-profile. Brandon Nimmo has been able to overcome his own weaknesses by continuing to get on base and actually be one of the most consistent at driving in runs. Then there’s the ongoing Pete Alonso slump that fans constantly worry about each year. Without him being a force in the lineup, who is this team?

Plenty of Mets players have received critique. Someone flying a bit more under the radar is Jeff McNeil. He hasn’t completely gone unnoticed in terms of his poor play. What makes McNeil frustrating is he no longer looks like a special kind of player. It’s partly due to his role but some of it falls on him.

The frustration of the Jeff McNeil slump this season

There are those obvious numbers sticking out for McNeil to give us cause for concern. The .231 batting average is the worst of it. This is a guy who hit .300+ in four of his first five seasons.

A little deeper, we find some of the justification for a normal hitter. He isn’t hitting the ball hard. His ISO now at .074 on the season is way below his career total of .137 and beneath the league average of .165. This isn’t a place where McNeil has tended to thrive, though. Like many numbers, it benefits power hitters. Add in a .262 BAbip which actually helps out a player like McNeil, we get some greater understanding of how poorly the year is going.

The everyday second baseman for the Mets and we really hope everyday means e-v-e-r-y-d-a-y because their only other option on the roster is Joey Wendle, McNeil has been a lesser defender this season. Measuring negatively at second base and left field, it’s only plays like this one he made on Monday in the latter that help remind us of what used to make him such a valuable asset.

Outside of the rare circumstance, the Mets have at least temporarily lost the need to move McNeil to any other position. And with only Wendle available to replace him, it’s not as if we even want to see McNeil moved off of second base often. Tyrone Taylor has been a fantastic fourth outfielder who deserves every start he gets. With J.D. Martinez around, it’ll mean DJ Stewart continues to get spot starts in the corners, too. Good career numbers for Wendle against Kyle Gibson helped get him into an inferior lineup on Monday.

Who is Jeff McNeil to the Mets in 2024?

If he’s not as actively roving around the field, what becomes of McNeil? The defensive versatility which had him playing parts of 68 games in the outfield last year alone doesn’t even look enticing any longer. Receiving so little from his bat, he feels like a more basic utility player than one you want crunched into the lineup on an everyday basis.

McNeil was already a poor fit for the Mets or maybe the players they added onto the roster around him are the ones who don’t match the puzzle. There isn’t a perfect place to hit him. Now chained into regular at-bats as the number seven hitter, and even dropped to eighth BEHIND Wendle on Monday, he has done well near the bottom of the lineup. However, with low expectations for Harrison Bader and none offensively from the current catching duo of Omar Narvaez and Tomas Nido, the team needs him to be a whole lot more.

A two-time All-Star and deserving of a third if there was a game in 2020, McNeil blends in as just another second baseman. He still puts the bat on the ball at a great rate and is available at other positions. It’s not good enough anymore. Take away a .300+ batting average, 33% of his season at positions other than second base, and what do we have? McNeil is just average with below-average results. His slugging percentage is less than his OBP right now. His .617 OPS is barely higher than what Nido has given them at .605.

McNeil hasn’t slumped the hardest. His problem is the hits he has had have been far more meaningless. He has the fewest runs scored of anyone with 100+ plate appearances and is tied with Bader with just 7 RBI.

Will McNeil turn things around? We’ve seen this before in 2021. And last year’s down season might suggest there is more of this to come.