Mets 2020 projections: Jeff McNeil

Perhaps the most frustrating thing about the 2019 season – and there are a ton of good options from which to choose – was the team not believing more in Jeff McNeil. Sure, they believed in him enough not to trade him. But they thought so little of him that the GM considered second base to be a “primary need” for the club. That decision is going to haunt them for years.

McNeil came up and was fantastic in 248 PA in 2018. He was every bit as good, and likely better, over 567 PA in 2019. McNeil posted better OPS+, wOBA and wRC+ numbers in his sophomore seasons. The only place where he took a step back was on defense, as he had to reacquaint himself with the outfield due to the senseless trade.

It looks like a done deal that McNeil will be at 3B in 2020. And whatever little doubt there may be about that right now will be cleared up if Yoenis Cespedes is ready to contribute … something … at the start of the season. Because beyond a shadow of a doubt, McNeil needs to be in the lineup. It may not be at his ideal position of 2B but it will still be good to see him back on the infield.

The fascinating thing about McNeil’s offense during the 2019 season is how the shape of his production changed the final two-plus months of the year. In his breakout year of 2018, which started in the minors, McNeil hit for both power and average. But when he came to the majors, he seemed intent on trading power for average.

And the first 91 games of last year were very similar. After the game of July 28, McNeil had a .336 AVG and a .909 OPS. It was an outstanding follow-up to his rookie season. But in the final 42 games of the year, McNeil started to look to hit for more power. In his final 187 PA, McNeil belted 13 HR. In order to produce the power, he had to sacrifice his average. McNeil hit just .279 – a drop of 57 points – in those final 42 games but his OPS jumped to .940, an increase of 31 points.

Without a doubt, adding power to his game made him a better offensive player.

The question is if he’ll be able to maintain that type of power over a full season, especially if the baseballs resemble the ones from last year’s playoffs more than the ones from the regular season. That’s true for a lot of players, not just McNeil. But given his excellent AVG over the first 154 games of his MLB career, it’s easy to imagine a scenario where McNeil starts looking to hit for power but finds the sledding there tougher and transitions back to being an AVG hitter.

Add in the wrist injury that ended his 2019 season and all of that makes coming up with a forecast a challenge. Let’s check in and see what the computer models say:

ATC – 615 PA, .296/.357/.478, 20 HR, 72 RBIs
Marcel- 508 PA, .306/.372/.501, 18 HR, 62 RBIs
Steamer – 660 PA, .288/.348/.462, 20 HR, 73 RBIs
ZiPS – 573 PA, .293/.355/.480, 19 HR, 71 RBIs

Three of the four systems see essentially the same exact player. And it’s not like Marcel is far off from what the others project. The biggest difference is playing time. Marcel has the short end of the playing time projection while Steamer sees him getting 152 more trips to the plate.

Here’s my totally biased prediction for McNeil:

620 PA
.285/.355/.560
27 HR
86 RBIs

Obviously, it’s my belief that the wrist is healed, the baseballs won’t be radically different from what they were in the regular season last year and that McNeil will continue to hit for power. It’s an optimistic forecast in the power department, for sure. It might be pessimistic on his BABIP and his walks.

You’ll have more credibility if you chime in now with what you think McNeil will do this year. Net up to undergo the forecast microscope will be Marcus Stroman.

9 comments for “Mets 2020 projections: Jeff McNeil

  1. February 6, 2020 at 8:20 am

    If the Mets are able to trade for Arenando I can see McNeil playing super sub with a lot more at bats. That being said here goes
    PA 570 – .290/370/500
    HR 20
    RBI 80
    Run 100

    • Chris F
      February 6, 2020 at 9:52 am

      +1

  2. Boomboom
    February 6, 2020 at 9:53 am

    605 PA
    .314/350/.542
    20 HR
    70 RBIs
    190 hits
    22 bb
    17 hbp
    All star selection

    • José
      February 6, 2020 at 12:43 pm

      My completely original and unique prediction:
      AB: 605
      PA: 644
      .314/.356/.542
      H:190
      1B: 106
      2B: 50
      3B: 14
      HR: 20
      BB: 27
      HBP: 12
      TB: 328

      What do you mean that I duped, then tweaked Boomer’s predictions? Are you accusing me of academic dishonesty?

      (PS: I used the methods of linear algebra to make my computations easier)

      • boomboom
        February 6, 2020 at 1:33 pm

        imitation is the highest form of flattery

  3. TexasGusCC
    February 6, 2020 at 7:14 pm

    .322/.379/.520, 12 HR’s, 479 PA’s, 95 Runs, 95 RBI, batting third all year behind Nimmo and Rosario.

  4. Metsense
    February 6, 2020 at 9:46 pm

    Like Gus, I would like Jeff to bat third but unlike Gus, I would bat Nimmo and Alonso before McNeil.(Gus, didn’t you read that book I sent you?)

    AB 624
    321/383/513/896
    HR 19
    RBI 72

    • TexasGusCC
      February 7, 2020 at 12:54 am

      Yes sir. Thank you again. In fact, McNeil is the perfect candidate for third according to their methodology.

      My choice of Rosario (who is going to really breakout this year) goes back to the 1985 Cardinals, of whom I just saw a special two weeks ago on MLBN. I am thinking of the rabbits first with the high averages, then the big sticks that aren’t as good with the OBP. I would like to see Alonso cleaning up all the base runners and Conforto behind him. But, I would semi platoon Davis and Cano, flipping McNeil back and forth from second and third, then Cespedes, and lastly Ramos.

      When do World Series tickets go on sale?

  5. footballhead
    February 7, 2020 at 6:38 pm

    I’m usually bullish in these predictions; assuming the players stay healthy, but I’m less sure about McNeil for 2020. Perhaps it’s because the Mets are going to have Cano clogging up the works that makes me feel this way. It means that the Mets will jerk around McNeil, Davis between 3B, OF, 2B; as they also deal with a Lowrie and a Cespedes on the roster. You also have to believe that the wrist injury can also be an issue; so I’m going to be a pessimist.

    HR 16 RBI 59 AVG .282 with under 500PA

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