Underrated Mets season: Jeff McNeil in 2019

A sudden surge in power gave Jeff McNeil one of the top OPS years in Mets history in 2019.
New York Mets v Cincinnati Reds
New York Mets v Cincinnati Reds / Jamie Sabau/GettyImages

People want to place an asterisk on the 2019 season, at least for the offensive players. The baseballs were notably different that year. Everyone acknowledged it. Steroids were getting injected into the laces instead of the players. The New York Mets had an explosive offense with Pete Alonso leading the way.

But it was his buddy, Jeff McNeil, who put together one of the more underrated years in Mets history. In what we can now look at as a completely atypical year, McNeil actually brought his power bat to the field.

The NY Mets got an underrated season from Jeff McNeil in 2019

McNeil hit 23 home runs in 2019. He hasn’t come close to it since. And all of it was done while playing in only 133 games and mostly as a left fielder but also as a Swiss Army knife.

It’s easy to see how McNeil was able to score 83 runs and drive in 75. Along with the 23 dingers, McNeil added 38 doubles. All of this happened with a .318/.384/.531 slash line.

In denial of any bias toward the recent, it’s his .916 OPS that puts him in elite Mets territory. It was a few points above David Wright in 2005 and 2006 at .912. It even tops Darryl Strawberry from 1988 who had an OPS of .911 and probably could have come away with the league’s MVP award. Tons of memorable years from Mets hitters are beneath McNeil’s one powerful campaign.

This season ranks 16th all-time in Mets OPS, but where we can put a true asterisk is on Dominic Smith and Michael Conforto from 2020. The pandemic season wiped out all but 60 games. They didn’t battle through as much as McNeil did one year prior when he learned how to hit home runs.

As we’ve gotten to know McNeil even better, a 20+ home run year is something to never bet on again. Critics wondered if that version of him was what the team needed most. After all, when he hit 7 home runs in the final month of the season he did so with only a .278 batting average and .347 OBP. He hit 7 in the entire first half while slashing .350/.409/.509. It could be a matter of preference. He had a .918 OPS in the first half without the home runs and a .915 in the second with them. Do you want him on base or do you want him clearing them out?

Whichever you choose, McNeil’s 2019 season might have been an anomaly but it’s still one of the more underrated years a hitter has had for this team.