New York Mets: All hail Amazins hitting machine Jeff McNeil

Jeff McNeil, New York Mets. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Jeff McNeil, New York Mets. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images) /

The all the twists and turns the New York Mets 2019 season has taken, one thing hasn’t changed. Jeff McNeil is a hits machine at the top of the order.

Monday night the New York Mets continued another upward move on their season-long rollercoaster ride. Their doubleheader sweep over the Florida Marlins on Monday propelled the Amazins record to 57-56, a game over even. An incredible accomplishment considering they were 11 games under .500 on July 12. Through all the Mets ups and downs in 2019, there has been one constant, the terrific hitting of Jeff McNeil.

Last season Jeff McNeil took the New York Mets by storm. The man who is affectionately known to his teammates as Squirell didn’t make it to the majors until July 24. Many saw his arrival as a band-aid on an injury-depleted team. McNeil was even assigned jersey number 68, which is never a good sign for a position player’s longterm Major League prospects.

All he did from the moment he arrived with the big club was hit the baseball and play a solid defensive second base. Once he became entrenched, McNeil showed the manager Mickey Callaway and the entire New York Mets organization what he could do.

From August 17 through the end of the 2018 season, McNeil hit .364 in 41 games ( a quarter of the season), with an on-base percentage of .401 and a slugging percentage of .513. That last number is especially amazing considering the second baseman hit only one home run. The performance was good enough for him to finish sixth in National League Rookie of the Year voting despite playing less than half a season in the Majors.

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McNeil came to 2019 New York Mets spring training as a man without a position. Despite his proficiency at second, the job was handed to recently acquired eight-time all-star Robinson Cano. Further, new general manager Brodie Van Wagenen signed free agent Jed Lowrie and traded for JD Davis, to compete with Todd Frazier at third base, McNeil’s other position. The plan was to move the steady hitter to left field.

Even when Frazier and Lowrie started the season on the injured list McNeil made as many starts in left field as he did at third base. No matter where he played, however, he hit. The former Cal State Long Beach 49ers star has even added another dimension to his game, power.

Getting back to Monday, McNeil went two-for-five in the first game. The pair of hits included his 14th homer of the season as well as his 200th career Major League hit (in only 599 at-bats). Going into play on Tuesday, McNeil is tied with Brian Reynolds of Pittsburgh for first place in all of Major League Baseball with a .337 batting average.

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Despite all of the New York Mets uneven play this year, Jeff McNeil has been their rock at the plate.