Jeff McNeil is having a Rookie of the Year caliber season

Jeff McNeil is not going to win the Rookie of the Year award in the NL this year, despite the fact he has been a hitting machine at the plate for the Mets. He was only called up in July, so he will have less than half a season with the team. Even if he had played all season with the Mets, there are a couple of NL rookies who are playing even better, Juan Soto of the Nationals and Ronald Acuna Jr. of the Braves.

That being said, if one were to project McNeil’s production over a season, it would be in the ballpark with the production of the most recent NL ROY winners. McNeil, through Sunday’s action, is slashing .323/.387/.468.

The NL Rookie of the Year in 2017 was Cody Bellinger of the Dodgers. His line for that season was .267/.352/.581. Bellinger had much better power, as evidenced by his SLG total. But McNeil was ahead in both BA and OBP, in the first case by 56 points.

In 2016 another Dodger, Corey Seager, won the award. His line was .308/.365/.512. Again McNeil has better figures in the first two categories and trails in SLG.

Finally in 2015 Kris Bryant of the Cubs took home the ROY Award. The third-sacker put up a line of .275/.369/.488. He lead McNeil by 20 points in SLG, but was behind in OBP and way behind in BA by 48 points.

McNeil did not have the greatest pedigree (12th round selection in 2013 June draft) but he was producing at the plate in the minors at both the AA and AAA levels earlier this year. After being called up he has basically taken over at second base for the Mets after Asdrubal Cabrera was traded.

His defensive skills were thought to be a little shaky, but he has handled second pretty well so far in the big leagues. He has just one error in 121 chances at second base so far this season. He also has made several nice defensive plays, and he has shown improvement at turning double plays.

On a team that has been deficient in speed, McNeil has shown decent ability on the base paths. He has picked up four SB while being thrown out just once.

So it is fair to say that McNeil is having a Rookie of the Year type season, despite the fact that he will not and should not win the award. Far more important than any award is the prospect that McNeil looks like a long term fixture at second base for the Mets. He may not be a big home run threat, but if McNeil continues to be a solid fielder at the premium position of second base, and continues to be a productive hitter with extra-base power, he could be an important contributor for the Mets for many years to come.

11 comments for “Jeff McNeil is having a Rookie of the Year caliber season

  1. Madman
    September 4, 2018 at 9:56 am

    McNeil at second,Alonso at first,sounds good. If Rosario continues to develop that’s not a bad infield.

    • MattyMets
      September 4, 2018 at 2:19 pm

      Madman, with Machado at third!

  2. Chris F
    September 4, 2018 at 3:09 pm

    I think its worth noting that Machado has no intention to play 3B. He views himself as a SS. I’d be very surprised if he ends up at third for any team. So If that were the case then you move Rosario to 2B and I guess see if Gimenez can move to 3B unless Vientos is the real deal.

    Almost any team should make room for a guy like Machado, but Ill tell ya, he would be a ton more attractive as a 3B.

    • Bob P
      September 4, 2018 at 3:24 pm

      The odds of the Mets opening the checkbook for Machado are probably about the same as their current 2018 playoff odds, but if they were to do that, then maybe the Rosario to CF make some sense. I’d like to see McNeil at 2nd.

  3. Eraff
    September 4, 2018 at 4:10 pm

    I was about to leave a smart ass comment associating McNeill’s start with Mike Vail….. and I like McNeill!

    When I look up Vail, I’m surprised to see that he had over 1500 MLB ab’s and a 313/400/713 lifetime line—not so much different than his initial run in 1975. He had some nice MLB time…I’d forgotten that.

    This is Old Guy stuff!……..

    https://www.baseball-reference.com/players/v/vailmi01.shtml

  4. Pete from NJ
    September 4, 2018 at 5:24 pm

    As an added old guy stuff, Vail’s September call up pushed Rusty Staub out the door.
    What I didn’t know then, only hearing Ron Darling explaining that Vail had cement hands in the outfield.

    But yes Vail was the 2nd coming of ice cream (in the fall of 1975)

    • September 4, 2018 at 7:35 pm

      If only we had known then what we know now, we would have tempered our enthusiasm for Vail because he had a .377 BABIP in ’75. But we were told how good he was and everyone could see we needed a pitcher to slot in behind Seaver, Koosman and Matlack…

  5. Chris F
    September 4, 2018 at 9:34 pm

    I think we all need to take a chill pill on McNeil. Yes, everything we’ve seen is terrific. He’s a treat to watch play and hit. But lets not forget he’s presently punching above his weight and doing so in the big leagues. I think there is reason to think at least some air is gonna come out of the balloon. Im all in for enjoying the ride while it lasts. McNeil also classifies as the Soup do Jour infielder. Oh how fast we’ve moved on from TJ Rivera, the last next big thing!! TJ we used to love you and now no one even mentions your name!!

    • September 5, 2018 at 5:07 am

      Curious, why do you think McNeil is punching above his weight? He is .327 .380 .515 .895 at AAA, very similar to his MLB line.

      He is very TJ Rivera-like, who I love, showing a little more pop. But they both are ollddd…..McNeil will be 27 next April.

      • September 5, 2018 at 9:35 am

        The vast majority of hitters experience a dropoff in production going from the minors to the majors. And it’s even worse going from Las Vegas – a hitter’s park in a hitter’s league – to Citi Field, which is at best a neutral park for hitters.

        A few years ago we did research examining guys who had 100 PA at both Vegas and the majors in the same season. The average had these hitters putting up 81% of their minor league OBP in the majors and 66% of their minor league slugging in the majors. So, McNeil’s .427 OBP in Vegas would translate into a .346 OBP in the majors and his .600 SLG in Vegas would equal a .396 mark in the show.

        A .742 OPS from a 2B is still a nice thing, as the NL average for 2B is .729 so far this year. But McNeil’s current .842 mark seems unsustainable in the long haul.

  6. Eraff
    September 4, 2018 at 10:37 pm

    I regard McNeill as a 23-24 guy now… he’s not Ty Kelly, but he’s also not a proven core piece.

    He’s the best of of the “quietly waiting” guys since Eric Campbell, who actually had some ability. Way ahead of Josh Satin…and I believe better than TJR.

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