The Mets should have seen it coming when Jeff McNeil hit 23 home runs in 2019. Since then, he’s hit seven with a BA down to .234 in 2021. What gives?
The Mets’ offense problems have been well document so far this season. But in particular, the Mets do not seem to have recognized the demise of one of the pure hitters on their team in Jeff McNeil.
And if they have, there’s been no public indication of their dissatisfaction with his play in 2021, and even dating back to last year’s abbreviated season.
McNeil is currently one of the few players in the major leagues holding a lifetime batting average above .300 (.310). But the precipitous decline this year is not only noticeable but alarming as well.
Who’s The Dummy Here – The Mets Or McNeil
Jeff McNeil is no dummy, so it’s likely he’s figured out that home runs equate to big contracts, especially when unrestricted free agency is reached.
Still making the major league minimum of a bit more than 500K, the Mets and McNeil will reach the first of three arbitration years, leading up to 2025 when he will become a free agent.
If McNeil’s choice is to go for the bombs instead of a healthy batting average that equates with getting on base for others to drive you in as the way to help the Mets, then he needs to take quick stock of himself – cause it ain’t working.
Conversely, though, the Mets aren’t dummies either, and they see what’s happening with McNeil – so why don’t they step in to do something about it?
The Mets have taken the step to bench McNeil twice in recent days, and he was absent from the team’s lineup for the second time in the last four games, this time with lefty Patrick Corbin on the mound on Sunday against the Nationals.
Mets: Benching Is Not Communicating
But the key question is, has there been any dialog between the Mets and, in particular, manager Luis Rojas and McNeil.
Not the public kind, but only the communication that counts in baseball or any other sport between the player and management.
If there hasn’t, then that’s totally on the Mets, and at this point should only be counted as inexcusable.
But if McNeil is hearing but not listening to calls for him to return to his previous self, that, of course, is another story and one the Mets need to take control of now.
McNeil is expendable, and Jonathan Villar can take over at second base and hit seventh, but that is not the ideal solution.
Mets: Move Him Or Convince Him
Teams will have interest in McNeil if the Mets were to make him available, but at this point, that seems like a premature move – assuming the Mets can take hold of McNeil and not the other way around.
Should he try, McNeil shouldn’t be allowed to use the excuse he’s only trying to “pick up” his teammates who have been lacking in the power department.
His (McNeil’s) job is to get on base so they can do their job, plain and simple.
But someone needs to tell him that in no uncertain terms, and I can’t help but wonder if the Mets are letting this slide, and very soon, they’ll regret letting it happen.
Here’s What Readers Are Saying…
Sheldon Forman He has developed an uppercut in his swing because he’s looking to hit more home runs.
Bob Lovinger As have most of baseball. Agents have probably instructed their clients that they have to hit homeruns to get the big contract. It’s a shame. McNeil has the ability to consistently hit between .310 and .330. He should be a gap hitter. I think he will get there again. He’s close. He’s hit the ball hard all season but has been unlucky. I think he’ll be fine.
Mike Ha He’s hitting .285 since the start of 2020. This took 12 seconds to look up.
Steve Contursi Author Mike Ha When the article was written, McNeil was batting .217 this year. With two hits last night, he’s up to .234. Still a mighty climb to get to where the club needs him to be.
Matt Gomez Rod Carew could have hit more home runs… Same for Tony Gwynn, Wade Boggs, and Ichiro Suzuki…