2018 is coming to a close in a few days and, as a result, we here at Metsmerized Online would like to acknowledge some of the achievements by the team during this past season.
Thus, Jeff McNeil is the Mets rookie of the year for the 2018 season.
The left-handed hitter started the 2018 season as the Opening Day second baseman for the Double-A Binghamton Rumble Ponies. He homered in his first at-bat of the season, though he would hit the disabled list just two days later. McNeil had to be wondering if this was going to be another injury riddled season after playing only 48 games in 2017 and three in 2016.
Thankfully, McNeil returned to action a week later (MiLB has 7-day DL) for Binghamton. He would have a two-homer game on April 17, and finished the first month of the season with a .994 OPS.
On May 13, against the Portland Sea Dogs, McNeil hit for the cycle and started a span in which he would hit a homer in five of six games. He had 17 extra base hits, 27 RBI, and a 1.067 OPS in 28 May games.
The versatile McNeil was hitting well in June again, before being promoted to the Triple-A Las Vegas 51s alongside teammate Peter Alonso on June 14. The month of June was more of the same for McNeil, he posted a 1.017 OPS between Binghamton and Vegas.
Calls for McNeil and Alonso to get promoted to the major leagues were starting to get very loud on social media. McNeil played some left field and third base (as well as his normal second base) in July for the 51s’ as he showed the Mets he could play multiple spots.
On July 24, the Mets selected the contract of McNeil from the 51s, and the 26-year-old would make his major league debut later that day. He would appear as a pinch hitter in the eight inning, hitting a single to center on the first major league pitch he saw.
McNeil would make his first MLB start two days later, he went 1-for-2 with two walks and a hit by pitch. A week later, he had the first four-hit game of his young career. July was a month much like all the others for McNeil, he posted a .992 OPS between Vegas and New York.
With the Mets trading Asdrubal Cabrera to the Phillies on July 27, the second base job was now all McNeil’s. The consistent McNeil posted a .848 OPS in 29 August games and a .847 OPS in 27 September games.
McNeil excelled in his first taste of the big leagues with a .329/.381/.471 slash line in 248 plate appearances. He had 11 doubles, six triples, three home runs and seven stolen bases as well. He posted a 2.4 bWAR, which ranked third among Mets position players behind only Michael Conforto and Brandon Nimmo.
Limiting strikeouts was a key to McNeil’s success in the majors, his 9.7 K% was the fifth lowest among MLB hitters with at least 200 plate appearances.
While McNeil has a currently undefined role for the 2019 season, the Mets could certainly use his bat in the lineup on a regular basis.