It wasn’t a good year for Jeff McNeil in 2021, as he had easily his worst year in the majors from a production standpoint. And if that wasn’t bad enough, he got into a mid-game confrontation with double play partner Francisco Lindor. After the season, we found out that Lindor was frustrated with McNeil’s refusal to go along with the team’s new aggressive defensive positioning. So, McNeil didn’t hit like he was supposed to, didn’t field like he was supposed to and didn’t play nice in the sandbox with the team’s big import. It’s almost hard to wrap your head around what a bad year it actually was for him.

Then the Mets hired no-nonsense Buck Showalter to be the team’s manager. How would Showalter handle a player who outwardly rebelled against the team’s defensive positioning? And if that wasn’t potentially troubling enough for McNeil, there had to have been some concern from him if Showalter would be predisposed towards preferring super veteran Robinson Cano, back from suspension, to be the team’s starter at second base.

Fortunately for McNeil, Showalter came out right away after the delayed Spring Training finally opened and said that McNeil would get the majority of starts at second base.

Meanwhile, the computer models don’t know about fights with teammates or preferences of managers. Instead, they just look at how the player has performed to determine what he’s likely to do in the upcoming season. Here’s what the computers forecast for McNeil:

ATC — .277/.343/.418, 7.1 BB%, 13.4 K%
Marcel – .274/.344/.424, 7.5 BB%, 15.4 K%
RotoCh – .278/.346/.419. 7.5 BB%, 13.4 K%
Steamer – .280/.346/.433, 7.2 BB%, 13.8 K%
THE BAT – .271/.340/.405, 7.4 BB%, 14.2 K%
ZiPS — .282/.346/.426, 6.7 BB%, 13.0 K%

Yikes! These numbers are not good. Yet they make perfect sense as the projection systems weight the most-recent season the heaviest and, as mentioned earlier, McNeil was lousy last year. All of these numbers show a bounceback from 2021 but are still a far cry from what McNeil did from 2018-20. If you cut 25 points of OBP from THE BAT’s numbers, this could be a triple-slash forecast for Cano.

It’s possible that McNeil was the player most impacted by the team’s alleged information overload given to the hitters. McNeil comes across as a “grip it and rip it” type of hitter, not one who wants to know what every pitcher will throw in every situation that might come up during an at-bat. Perhaps the best hope for a bigger bounceback from McNeil this year will be the installation of Eric Chavez as the team’s hitting coach.

There will be a question around all MLB players in how they’ll handle the shortened Spring Training period. Perhaps this will be even more of an issue with McNeil. My impression is that despite Showalter’s early endorsement, McNeil will need to come out of the gate performing or risk losing playing time to Cano.

My hope is that last year’s rough season will both provide incentive for a better year in 2022 as well as, for lack of a better phrase, toughen him up for the challenges he’ll face this season. If McNeil was able to face everything that went wrong a season ago, perhaps he can come out better for it in the long haul. My totally biased forecast for McNeil in 2022:

.299/.364/.459, 6.8 BB%, 12.5 K%

12 comments on “Mets 2022 projections: Jeff McNeil

  • Wobbit

    I can seeing the logic in starting the year with NcNeil as the regular 2B. A naturally gifted hitter, McNeil needs the opportunity to start fresh and make his bones. I’m especially supportive if he hits way down in the batting order. He doesn’t warrant hitting in the top five, and against lefties, he should hit 8 or 9.
    Furthermore, I think hitting near the bottom is good for Jeff. He can float along with fewer expectations and be allowed to concentrate as much on his fielding, which should not be taken for granted. Solid, tough, gritty play at 2B is as important to me as is whether he hits .275 or .295.
    Jeff’s bounce-back depends, to me, on his ability to adjust to the times. If he can refind his stroke, find what works for him against this year’s pitchers, and stop forcing what he thinks needs to happen, he may go the way of many three-year wonders… banning the shift should help him find holes, but a power hitter he isn’t, and line drives are his friend, not fly balls.
    Color me less optimistic (I think pitching coaches have figured him out): .271 / .325 / .405 / 10% BB / 20% K

  • BoomBoom

    .311 17 hr 68 rbs 82 runs scored

  • TexasGusCC

    So, one bad year with a faulty team offensive plan trumps three good years? Since when?

    .344/.402/.512, .390 BABIP, 14 HR, and the lead off hitter more than half the year. Nimmo will bat third, Mets lead MLB in runs scored.

    • Bob P


    • Name

      It happens all the time. ‘What have you done for me lately’ culture is the prevailing thought these days.
      It was the justification used to rationalize overpaying for James McCann. Everyone turned on Wilson Ramos after one bad year.

    • Brian Joura

      The highest BABIP in the majors last year among qualified hitters was .372 — accomplished by Tim Anderson and Starling Marte

      In the last 10 full seasons before 2021, a qualified hitter had a .390 or better BABIP just seven times. It’s a mighty big ask for a .390 from McNeil

      • TexasGusCC

        Didn’t Conforto have a .422 BABIP in the pandemic year? But, even if it isn’t quite .390, I expect a return to his norms and then some.

        • Brian Joura

          Yes but that was just 202 ABs. If McNeil performs well, he should get close to 3X that many.

  • Metsense

    .300/.363/.45f8 6.9 BB% 12.4 K %

    McNeil should have an “average McNeil year” should bounce back. If he doesn’t then he opens up more more player time for these players in these three scenarios, depending who is playing well to replace him:
    1. Davis 3B, Escobar 2B
    2. Cano 2B ( and then Guillorme 2B)
    3. Smith 4th OF
    McNeil the starting 2B and with his versatility should also see some playing time LF or RF.

  • Wobbit

    We can write off McNeil’s bad year to factors such as poor coaching, too much information, etc… but I watched so many at bats last year where he did not have a chance or a clue. Pitchers were very often a step ahead of him and he had little discipline to lay off their pitches and wait for his.

    Until Jeff acquires the patience to swing at the best possible pitches for his success, I am afraid that opposing pitching coaches will take advantage of his erratic approach and entice him to swing at less optimum pitches.

    Buck will hopefully not succumb to sentimental reasons for hitting McNeil high in the order, instead letting him “find himself” at the bottom of the order. In that spot, a .275 average would be a good year. I’m afraid anyone expecting Jeff to be among the league leaders are ignoring his impatient and oft-frustrated tendencies. Anything above .270 would be fine with me, especially from #7,8, or 9.

  • Remember1969

    McNeil is one of the harder guys to predict for all the reasons stated above.

    – Did he forget how to hit and can now remember? Hard to tell.
    – Was last year the year of the analytics overload and this year will clear everyone’s heads?
    – Will his defense affect his offense? Playing next to Lindor is different than playing next to Rosario.

    A couple things that I am seeing.
    – If he hits as many as 20 home runs, he will not hit .300. His BA will go down when he tries to power up.
    – If his walk rate remains around 7%, he cannot get the OBP up to .360 without the BA over around .320. A .300 BA with 7% BB rate yields about a .340 OBP, unless he gets hit by pitch at a 3 or 4% rate. Not optimal there.

    My prediction: He will bounce back some and will have a slash line of .290/.335/380. Not the bullish prognostication of Gus.

  • Steve_S.

    I think McNeil will hit better, but not approach his 2019 power numbers (23 HR; .531 SLG).

    My predictions: .285/.355/.435, 8.5 BB%, 11.5 K%

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

%d bloggers like this: