The Mets lucked into Jeff McNeil being their leadoff hitter and the best one they’ve had in years. For many years they couldn’t fill the position and they had the guy in the organization all along. Many times, the best moves the Mets make are born out of desperation or no other choice.
McNeil doesn’t have the launch angle that Pete Alonso has, but he doesn’t need to. He has 14 home runs and 50 RBI, but his 64 runs scored. .406 OBP and .340 average are why he’s the Mets best leadoff hitter in years and they only slotted him in there because of injuries.
It’s hard to believe that the Mets utility star has only 26 walks. He’s on pace to only strikeout 80 times this season even though he will earn around 536 or more at-bats this season. Fans can point to a lot of reasons why the Mets are surging but McNeil is one of the biggest in my estimation.
When you have a natural hitter, you let him play to his strengths. You don’t try to change him and to the Mets credit, they haven’t. I think teams have players like McNeil, late bloomers, who can be more productive as hitters not trying to be sluggers, there’s a big difference.
McNeil may get 200 hits this season. He’s already the fastest Met to get 200 hits in his career. He did it faster than Dave Magadan and David Wright. The last Mets player to get 200 hits was Jose Reyes in 2008 when he didn’t even hit .300 (.297). Lance Johnson has the team record with 227, that’s probably safe for this year.
This writer has unlocked some of the magic of McNeil and why he’s such an anomaly in this era of home runs and launch angle. Note, this article was written back in May
Will the Mets see the postseason? They might. Is McNeil a huge, underrated reason why? I believe he is. Chicks did the long ball, but puppies dig the singles hitters. Just ask his recently adopted pup “Willow” who has become a canine star!
McNeil could win the batting title. On first blush, Alonso will be the player that gets talked about as a possible MVP award if the Mets stay in contention. When the experts break everything down, McNeil could edge out Alonso in the voting. Don’t be shocked if that happens, but that only happens if they make the playoffs.