Jeff McNeil: Mets Infielder (2018-2022)

Jeff McNeil was born on April 8th 1992 in Santa Barbara, California. The six foot one, left handed batter throws right handed.

In high school he played three seasons as basketball player, averaging 17 points a game. 

He was also more interested in gold but a disappointing performance in the 2009 Junior Amateur Championship had him focus more on baseball. He did not start playing baseball until his senior year.

After getting noticed by Cal State where he got a scholarship he moved over to Long Beach State in his junior year. 

There he was named to the All Bug West team getting drafted by the New York Mets in the 12th round of the 2013 draft.

Minor League Career: He missed a lot of action due to injuries in 2016 & 2017 playing in only 51 games in those years. He began 2018 at AA Binghamton where hit .327 with 14 HRs & 43 RBIs in 57 games. 

He was moved  up to AAA Las Vegas where he hit .368 in 31 games with a .427 on base %. That was enough for the weak hitting Mets with a need for an infielder to call him up.

Trivia: In the minor leagues he began using  his now familiar, knobless bats given to him by former Mets hitting coach Lamar Johnson. Johnson served as Mets hitting coach in 2014 getting replaced by Kevin Long, then moving as a minor league hitting instructor.

Big Leagues: McNeil made his MLB debut on July 24th, 2018 appearing as a pinch hitter collecting a hit in his first at bat in a 6-3 Mets win over the San Diego Padres. 

Two days later he made his first start batting 7th & playing third base in a game at Pittsburgh, where the Mets beat the Pirates 12-6. McNeil got a base hit & drew a pair of walks. 

On July 31st he hit his first career HR, a solo shot off Tanner Roark, in Mets embarrassing 25-1
loss against the Washington Nats. He seemed to fit in quickly with big league pithing & began to heat up his hitting in August.

On August 4th he had his first four hit game, including a double in Zack Wheelers 3-0 win in Atlanta against the Braves. Two days later he hit his second career HR, coming off the Reds Keury Mella, in a Mets 6-4 win in Cincinnati. 

In late August he had another four hit game, that week he also hit triples in two games on August 18th & again on the 22nd. At the end of August he was batting .330, as a bright spot on a dark season with not much hitting. 

His tendency to put the ball in play & not strike out too often have been keys to his success, something many MLB players lack these days.

In September, he saw regular action driving in ten runs, he finished the season hitting safely in 12 of his last 16 games. In September he had nine multi hit games, including another four hit game on September 23rd against Washington in D.C. where he hit his third HR of the season. 
For 2018, in 63 games (225 at bats) McNeil batted .329 with a .381 on base %, hitting 11 doubles, with 6 triples (second on the team) 3 HRs & 19 RBIs, while stealing seven bases as well. 

ROY Votes: McNeil opened a lot of eyes and there was already high future expectations for the youngster. He was tied for sixth in the Rookie Of The Year voting, not receiving more votes because of the short time he played. 

When the Mets acquired Robinson Cano & Jed Lowrie in the offseason, McNeil's fate became unclear. 

Manager Mickey Callaway stated he would play still play at short behind Amed Rosario as well as at third base behind Lowrie & Todd Frazier.

 But the Mets used McNeil all over the field, filling in for those players mentioned above. Lowrie didn't play until September albeit only a few games. Frazier spent some time on the IL. 

Cano also lost time & was never as productive as McNeil. As for Rosario, he  held his own at short playing in 157 games, the only position McNeil didn't have to fill in. McNeil was more important than any of them & was second to Pete Alonso as the team's MVP.

2019 Spring Training: In Spring Training 2019 he showed that he did need more work in the outfield, although he did make some fine throws & did a decent job on routine plays.

At the plate he was awesome. In 18 Spring Training games he hit 4 HRs with 9 RBIs going 19-54 batting .352with six extra base hits.

2019 Season: He got the Opening Day start in the Mets 2-0 win over the Nats in D.C. He went 0-3 with a walk. He had a great second game, collecting four hits with a double, a triple & four RBIs in the Mets 11-8 win. 

He drove in another un on April 1st in Miami & hit straight in three games. 

On April 6th, he entered the game in the 8th inning, as a pinch hitter in a 5-5 tie game & was hit by a pitch. The next day he was hit by two pitches. He would drive in runs in seven if his next nine games & by April 15th was batting .400. 

In May he landed on the injured list for the first of three times on the year. The others were in June & again in early August.

McNeil would lead the league in batting for a majority of the season & always be in the top range if he wasn't leading.

On June 11th, he hit a three run HR in the first game of the subway series double header. The Mets lost that game but won the nightcap. 

On June 21st, he hit a two run HR off Yu Darvish at Wrigley Field. 

He later drove in what was the winning run with a 7th inning RBI, as the Mets beat the Cubs 5-4. He followed that three RBI day with another, the next day in a 10-2 Met win. 

McNeil drove in two runs in each of the last two games of the Atlanta series at Citi Field. He had 14 RBIs in his last 13 games in the month of June.

In July he would hit two HRs while batting in the lead off spot. He also homered in another subway series game & then had a four hit day in a 6-5 win over the Phillies at Citi Field. At the All Star break, McNeil was leading the NL in batting at .348. He was named to his first All Star team.

2019 All Star Game: At the All Star game he got to witness first hand, team mate Pete Alonso win the HR derby. McNeil came in to the game as a defensive replacement in the 6th inning, playing left field. In his only at bat he flew out to left field in the NL's 4-3 loss at Cleveland. 

He returned from the All Star Game & hit safely in eight of nine games (10 hits) on Mets road trip, while hitting HRs in both Miami & San Francisco. Up until July 23rd, he was batting .342, best in the majors.

On July 26th he hit a three run HR in Pittsburgh leading New York to a 6-3 win. On July 30th, McNeil broke an 11th inning tie in Chicago, with a two run HR off the White Sox Josh Osich, Michael Conforto followed with a HR as the Mets went on to a 5-3 extra inning victory.

As August began, he went on a nine game hit streak as the Mets slowly got back into the wild card race. The Mets won 15 of 16 games with two big win streaks, getting them back into contention. 

The steady hitting of McNeil was certainly a big contribution. He would hit HRs in three straight games from August 3rd to the 5th, two in wins at Pittsburgh & the other in a win at Citi over the Marlins. These starting off another Mets eight game win streak.

Career Milestone: On August 5th, he reached the 200 career hit mark, in just his 599th at bat, making him the fastest Met to reach the milestone. 

On August 7th, still during the Mets win streak, he hit yet another HR, as the Mets completed the sweep over those same Marlins. He would hit his 5th HR of the month on August 28th against the Cubs at Citi Field.

As September began, the Mets took two of three from the Nationals in D.C. In those three games McNeil had six hits, including two HRs & seven RBIs. He drove in the first run of a walk off win over the Phillies the next day too. 

On September 11th, after a 911 Memorial tribute & during a four game sweep of the Diamondbacks at Citi Field, McNeil blasted two HRs while driving in three of the 9-0 Mets win.

Starting on September 16th, he hit HRs in three of four games with five RBIs. His season was cut short due to a hamstring injury he suffered on September 25th. The Mets also fell out of the playoff run. 

McNeil finished his second MLB season batting .318 (4th best in the NL) with 162 hits 23 HRs 38 doubles (5th most in the NL) 83 runs scored 5 stolen bases, 35 walks & a .384 on base% (8th best in the NL). He was hit by 21 pitches (5th in the NL). That was tied for the second most in a Mets single season. 

2020: In the 2020 Covid19 shortened season, McNeil batted .311 in 52 games with 4 HRs 14 doubles 20 walks 23 RBIs & a .383 on base %.

On August 9th, he drove in the first run of the game & then capped it off with a 6th inning sac fly, in the Mets 4-2 win over the Marlins. On an August 28th matchup against the A.L. New York team, with the Mets down 3-1 he led off the 5th inning with a double & scored as the Mets tied it up on Brandon Nimmo's double. He started off the 7th inning & scored on Amed Rosario's walk off HR.

From September 2nd to September 12th, he drove in 12 runs, including two games where he drove in three runs each time. In that span he had 15 hits, with four straight multi hit games.

The ultimate utility guy on the field, McNeil played 93 games in the outfield (71 in left 
& 42 in right) 37 games at second base & 31 games at third.

2021: This disappointing Mets season was also a forgetful one for
Jeff. In 120 games he batted a career worst .251dropping off sixty points from the previous years' average. He hit 7 HRs 19 doubles had 35 RBIs with 48 runs scored with a .319 on base % in 120 games.

His April was so bad, it took him until May 1st, just to get over the .200 batting mark. On May 17th he injured his left hamstring & would miss a month of action. 

In July he had 8 multi hit games, and would dive in at least two runs in a game three times. That month he reached a season high .280 mark then declined from there.

Family: McNeil married his wife Tatiana in California in 2019. 

During that season, while Jeff was enjoying a personal hot hitting streak, he adopted a puppy named Willow. 

The pup was named after the street Jeff & Tatiana were married on. The dog was with Jeff during a press conference & became a big hit herself.


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