HomeTrending MLB NewsAs Jeff McNeil goes, so go the New York Mets

As Jeff McNeil goes, so go the New York Mets

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Pretty much everything that could’ve gone wrong for the New
York Mets in 2023, did go wrong. Their star closer got hurt during the World
Baseball Classic and was lost for the year. Their high-priced pitching staff
flamed out. And many of the players who shined for the 101-win club in 2022
regressed badly. Perhaps most notable was second baseman Jeff McNeil.  

After four solid years, McNeil really broke out in 2022. It was his top season for hits, doubles and RBI. And his .326 batting average – which was also a career high – was the best in baseball. Things took a nosedive last summer, however, especially with his BA, which dropped over 50 points.

Expectations for the Mets are pretty low this year, but if
the club has any chance to reach the playoffs or even just reach .500, McNeil
could be the catalyst. When things go good for the Mets – like a big rally or
come-from-behind victory – he’s usually involved.

Nicknamed the “Flying Squirrel,” McNeil is bit of a throw-back
MLBer who plays with grit and doesn’t mind getting his uniform dirty. Fans of a
certain age see a resemblance to Wally Backman, the fiery Mets second baseman
in the 80s who was the motor that made the team go.

While things were mostly bad for the Mets in 2023, they
weren’t all bad for McNeil, whose second half of the season could foretell a
much better 2024. Before the All-Star break, McNeil batted .253 and afterwards
that climbed to .291.

Even though arm soreness has limited what he can do in spring
training, McNeil said it could actually be beneficial not getting as many at-bats.

“You don’t get those bad thoughts and bad habits,” he said. “You kind of let your natural ability take over and roll into the
season, so I have always succeeded well early in live batting practice and
stuff like that, so we’ll see what happens.”

What the rest of the team hopes is that McNeil returns to form in 2024. Brandon Nimmo – who McNeil may end up following in the batting order – summed things up thusly:

“He doesn’t need to be 2022 Jeff McNeil. He doesn’t have to win a batting title for us,” Nimmo said. “We just need solid at-bats and him on base a lot because, when that occurs, our offense is so much better.”

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