Jeff McNeil is coming off of a bad 2023 season for the New York Mets, so much so, that fans are beginning to think about potentially moving on from him. His numbers were extremely low and he went through a major cold stretch as well.
After McNeil's hot start in March and April, he started to cool down and had the worst months of his entire career. From May to July, McNeil had a batting average of just .237 in 312 plate appearances which most certainly does not meet the high standards that he holds himself to.
Over the years, Mets fans have seen the type of player that McNeil can be and know when his performance is being clouded by frustration. He gets too wrapped up in his own head, taking his anger onto the diamond and at the dish. It affects his game greatly but when he is at his best there is no doubt that Jeff McNeil is a valuable piece to the Mets lineup. It's his success that leads to the overall team's success and his laser focus that can help the team make a deep playoff push.
McNeil was bad all year in 2021 and he struggled in a number of important categories. Now when analyzing a full season for McNeil, the main things to focus on are his spray charts, expected batting average, and his sweet spot percentage
According to Baseball Savant, McNeil's sweet spot percentage was at an all-time low, sitting in just the 15 percentile. This means that during the course of this season, he was not only just getting out but he was getting under the ball and popping up. Then McNeil's expected batting average was in the 58th percentile which was around the .257 mark. His batted balls were not finding any outfield grass which leads us to taking a look at his spray charts.
He only totaled 97 hits on the year and 48 of those hits never made it out of the infield. McNeil struggled heavily and the Mets finished the season with a record of 77-85.
In 2022, McNeil elevated his game and showed fans just how good he could be when he is in the right mindset. He had a grit to him, getting on base almost every chance he got and his numbers reflected that.
McNeil's stats were at a career-high, starting off with his sweet spot percentage and expected batting average both being in the 94th percentile. He was not just putting the ball in play but rather he was making solid contact which led his number of hits to pile up. This type of productivity was heavily represented in his spray chart as well. McNeil was reaching all parts of the field with a good mixture of singles, doubles, and home runs.
He totaled 174 hits in 2022 and he finished the season with a .321 batting average which ultimately led him to the NL batting title. McNeil had a career year and the Mets finished with 101 wins making the playoffs for the first time since 2016.
This brings us to McNeil's most recent season where his numbers plummeted back down to earth. His pattern of getting frustrated at the dish continued. The more he began to struggle, the more it showed with each time he went up to the plate.
McNeil seemingly put up worse numbers than he did during the 2021 season. In 2023, he was in the 42nd percentile for expected batting average, and the 25th percentile for sweet spot percentage. McNeil was not getting the results that he desired and his spray chart shows that same pattern of not distributing the ball to different parts of the field. What sets 2023's down year apart from 2021 is the fact that McNeil was generating most of his hits by pulling the baseball.
More specifically, a clump of his 158 hits can be found near the second baseman and the first baseman. However, the common factor between all of these seasons is that when McNeil struggles, the Mets struggle too.
Now you obviously can pinpoint all the blame on McNeil but it is safe to say that when he is focused the Mets end up winning a lot more games. Hopefully, McNeil could return to All-Star form in 2024 and can lead the Mets back to their winning ways.