Jeff McNeil: 2022 N.L. Batting Champion (2018 - 2024)

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.

Nickname: In college he was called the Flying Squirrell a moniker that stuck with him in the major leagues after a roommate found out about it in his rookie year.

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, knob less 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.

Mets Career: 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 Nat's. He seemed to fit in quickly with big league pitching & 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 were 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 Nat's 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 leadoff 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 firsthand, teammate 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 Season: This disappointing Mets season was also a forgetful one for Jeff. In 120 games he batted a career worst .251 dropping off sixty points from the previous years' average. 

On April 8th, McNeil led off the bottom of the 9th inning with the Mets down to the Marlins 2-1. He hit a game tying HR off Anthony Bass, that inning the Mets won the game on a controversial hit by pitch call on Michael Conforto that scored Luis Guillorme.

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 eight multi-hit games and would drive in at least two runs in a game three times. That month he batted .351 playing in 23 games, as he reached a season high .280 mark then declined from there.

Walk Off Hit:
On July 7th in the first game of a double header with the Milwaukee Brewers at Citi Field, Edwin Diaz hit Christian Yelich with a pitch with the bases loaded in the top of the 8th inning, putting the Brewers ahead. 

In the bottom of the inning, Francisco Lindor was put on first base, then pitcher Brent Suter hit Dom Smith with a pitch & then walked James McCann. McNeil came through with a base hit to centerfield bringing in Lindor with the walk off run.

At the All-Star break, the Mets were in first place by four games, but McNeil was batting just .225. After the break they went 17-26 thru the end of August & were five games back, never recovering. Personally, for Jeff he batted just .187 in August although he collected seven doubles. He improved a bit in September but ended the year batting just .251. 

He had just 97 hits with 19 doubles a triple 7 HRs & 35 RBIs. He walked 29 times & posted the
lowest on base % of his career at .319%.

2022 Mets Wild Card Season: At the start of the year when the Mets acquired Starling Marte, Jeff chose to give up the uniform #6 so Marte could wear it as he switched to the number 1. 

That off season the Mets also added improvements with Mark Canha, Eduardo Escobar as well as pitchers Max Scherzer & Chris Bassitt. Expectations were high going into the season.

For McNeil he rebounded from his previous season to go on to win the NL Batting Title.

On Opening Day, he collected two hits in the Mets 5-1 win at Washington. The next day he hit a 3rd inning HR off the Nat's Josiah Gray, adding an RBI single in the 8th inning in the Mets 7-3 victory. Jeff collected seven hits in his first four games. From April 23rd to April 28th, he had four multi-hit games, giving him eight for the month as he batted .328.

Mets No Hitter: On April 29th, five Mets pitchers combined for the second no hitter thrown in Mets history. In the 3-0 win over the Phillies, McNeil had two hits & drove in two of those runs with a 5th inning two run single off Aaron Nola.

On May 1st, he hit two doubles having a four-hit game with an RBI in a 10-6 win over the Phillies.

That month he had ten multi-hit games, with three or more hits in a game three times. Beginning on May 14th he drove in runs in six straight games, totaling 10 RBIs in that span.

On May 19th he had one of a season high three RBI games, in a wild win over the Cardinals highlighted by Pete Alonso's walk off HR. On May 28th, Jeff hit a three run HR off the Phillies Zach Eflin in a 6-2 Mets victory. After a three-hit game on May 31st he was batting .318 to start June.

In June he hit safely in 13 of 17 games, with a nine-game hit streak. 

2022 All Star:
At the All Star break he was batting .300 with 19 doubles & 35 RBIs getting chosen to the All-Star team. The Marlin's Jazz Chisholm was voted in as the NL's starting second baseman, but his injury led to McNeil being the starter. For Jeff it was his second All Star appearance. Jeff was the first Met to start in an All-Star game since David Wright in 2013. 

Jeff, Pete Alonso, Starling Marte & Edwin Diaz represented the Mets. In the game he went 0-1 in the NL loss at Dodger Stadium.

He & his wife brought their one-week-old son to the All-Star Week festivities.

Starting in a win at Miami on July 29th, Jeff went on a 13-game hit streak, where he collected 21 hits with seven multi-hit games & drove in ten runs. In a three-game series sweep over the Reds at Citi Field at the end of that streak, he had two multi-RBI games.  

On August 18th he began another streak that had him hitting safely in 12 of 13 games. For August
he hit .385 with 42 hits, 13 doubles & 11 RBIs. He ended the month batting at .318.

The Mets started September taking two of three from the Dodgers at Citi Field & holding a three-game lead in first place. On September 2nd, he hit his 35th double of the year & had a three-hit game, the first of three four hit games that month as well as 13 games with at least two hits. 

Through September to the end of the regular season he would bat .357 with 41 hits, 12 walks, 18 runs scored & 13 RBIs.

In the Mets disastrous three game sweep from the Braves in Atlanta starting September 30th Jeff had 7 hits in 13 at bats with two RBIs & two runs scored.

NL Batting Champ:
He finished the year winning the NL batting title, hitting .326, becoming just the second Mets player to accomplish that feat. Jose Reyes won the 2011 NL Batting Crown. McNeil was also the first Met to ever lead all the major leagues in batting average as well.

Jeff had 174 hits (5th most in the NL) with 39 doubles (8th most in the NL) a triple 9 HRs 73 runs scored & 62 RBIs. He walked 40 times posted a .382 on base % (4th best in the NL) & a .836 OPS, winning a Silver Slugger Award for second baseman.

McNeil also had the lowest strike out rate in all of baseball at 19% striking out an average of every 8.7 at bats, the best overall as well.

The versatile McNeil played 106 games at second base & 47 games in the outfield in left & right
for the 2022 Mets.

2022 Post Season: In the NLWC series loss to the Padres he was 2-11 with a 7th inning two run double off Adrian Morejon in the Mets Game #2 win.

In the off season he was given a four-year $50 million contract to remain a Met.

2023: McNeil was to play both second base (107 games) & the outfield (68) games for the Mets in 2023. He started the season with two hits & an RBI in the Mets 5-2 win in Miami. After the first 15 games the NL batting champ was batting just .212.

On April 10th, McNeil had the first of a dozen multi-RBI games on the year, as he hit a two run double off the Padres Yu Darvish in a 5-0 combined Mets shut out.

On April 20th, he hit his first HR of the season, a solo shot off the Giants Tristan Beck in a 9-4 win at San Francisco. From April 20th thru the end of the month, he batted .444 with 12 hits & five multi-hit games.

On May 1st he hit his second HR of the season, it came in the second game of a double header split with the Braves at Citi Field. McNeil kept his average up at .290 until the end of May but then struggled the rest of the year as did the Mets.

On August 5th, McNeil hit a two run HR off the Orioles Kyle Gibson & added an RBI hit driving in all three runs in the Mets 73 loss in Baltimore. On August 9th Jeff's HR broke a 2-2 tie against the Cubs leading to the Mets 4-3 win. 

Multi RBI Game: On August 18th, in a 7-1 win over the Cardinals Jeff had a season high four
RBI game. In the top of the 3rd, he singled in his first run. In the Mets five run 7th inning, he hit a three run HR off James Naile for his 6th HR of the year.

From September 11th to September 17th, he hit three HRs collecting nine hits in the eight games.
On September 23rd, he was placed on the IL with a torn UCL in his right elbow. He avoided surgery & got an injection.

After winning a batting title, McNeil had a
disappointing season batting .270 with 158 hits 25 doubles 4 triples 10 HRs & 55 RBIs. He struck out 65 times with 39 walks18 hit by pitches a .361 on base % & .711 OPS.

Career Stats: In his six-year career, Jeff is batting .298 with 722 hits 146 doubles 13 triples 56 HRs 269 RBIs & 333 runs scored. He struck out 307 times in 12422 at bats with 177 walks 68 hit by pitches a .361 on base % & .799 OPS.

FamilyMcNeil married his wife Tatiana in Nipomo, California in 2019. They have one son who was born in July 2022.

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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