While Pete Alonso claimed most of the national attention with his power display, Jeff McNeil was the table setter for the Mets.
With the unfortunate news that his season was ended early with a fractured wrist on Wednesday, his second strong campaign was capped in undesired fashion. His third season should continue this momentum as he is expected to still get a full Spring Training.
After hitting 11 doubles in limited action in 2018, McNeil broke out huge with 38 this season to go along with his 23 home runs. With this, he made his first All-Star team. He also stepped up when the Mets needed him the most, putting up a 1.025 OPS in August, when New York was fighting for the Wild Card.
Most importantly is that McNeil gives the Mets a legitimate leadoff hitter for the first time since Jose Reyes. In the top spot in the order in 2019, McNeil posted an on base percentage of .386. Outside of Brandon Nimmo last season, that this the highest Mets single-season OBP since David Wright boasted .390 in 2013.
Additionally, McNeil was versatile with more value placed on players who are able to man multiple positions. McNeil did just that, playing four different spots for the Mets for at least 24 games. He played by far the most games in left field, with 61. However, the versatility helps the team overcome injuries and allow for rest days that are needed for other guys.
With the injury, McNeil will likely finish fourth in the National League Batting Title competition. He currently sits eighth in on base percentage in the league. Aiding that is the 21 hit by pitches, which rank him fourth. That is what ultimately claimed his season though, as the last one caused the surgery to be required on his wrist. He is also fifth in doubles. What might be the most impressive is the 13.2 percent strikeout rate. This ranks 13th best in all of baseball.
The best news for the Mets is that McNeil is still not even arbitration eligible until after the 2021 season. He will also have team control until 2024. The bad news for McNeil is that he will already be 29 when he becomes arbitration eligible and then 32 when he is able to finally hit free agency.
McNeil is just one of the Swiss Army knife players that give a team so many options. He also provides some extra pop, making him even more potent for the Mets. This type of player is crucial on winning team, but clearly New York still needs to add several pieces. He will be a huge value for years for them, and unless the Mets decide to pay him, he may never get the big payday that he deserves if he continues at this rate.