Permanency is something Jeff McNeil isn’t used to. He roves around the field plenty and in this past season on his way to winning a batting title, the New York Mets All-Star had at least one plate appearance at all nine spots in the order.
McNeil saw the majority of his trips to the plate as the number five hitter with 165 chances. Ironically, this was also the weakest output with a .253/.327/.377 result.
McNeil ended up hitting .410/.471/.603 out of the number eight spot in 87 plate appearances and performed at a high level when he was slotted in at sixth—giving the Mets a .357/.387/.481 slash in 137 face-offs. It doesn’t really matter where he hits, he’ll get results. But next season, where might be the best?
Mets starting lineup can have Jeff McNeil hitting in a lot of places next season
Although he often drops in the order against lefty starters, McNeil proved he’s no Daniel Vogelbach versus southpaws. His numbers versus lefties were only slightly down from the .332/.385/.484 versus righties to a .312/.376/.382 slash line against left-handed arms. The decrease in power is the only real noticeable difference.
Depending on how the offseason goes will factor in what the plan with McNeil should be. Remove Brandon Nimmo from the equation and moving McNeil to number one or two in the lineup is an absolute must. Starling Marte might actually make more sense at the top thanks to his speed. McNeil’s high ability to put the ball in play and, obviously, win a batting title would go a long way toward moving him up the bases even further.
If not first or second, the best spot might be back at sixth. McNeil is a great hitter but not quite what you’d want out of your number three through five hitters. We have to hope the Mets are going to improve the DH spot in a major way this offseason. Having a DH that belongs at the bottom is not a winning recipe.
McNeil brings a special value to the Mets they won’t find from many other players. Whether he’s setting the table at the top or fixing slumps at the bottom, he’s essential to the team’s success.
In 2023, the number two spot is ideal if Nimmo signs somewhere else. If Nimmo remains, the number six spot, while seemingly low, would be a spot for McNeil to get comfortable.
As with any starting lineup, it’ll change from day-to-day. You can’t go wrong with McNeil anywhere in the field or the lineup. Just get him in there.