PORT ST. LUCIE – Jeff McNeil scored everywhere, at every level and in every season – until 2021 left him confused.
“Something was wrong,” McNeil admitted Monday. “It’s just about finding what that was.”
The Mets second baseman fell behind after a combined .319 average in his first three major league seasons and fell to a .251 campaign with just seven homers in 120 games.
There were signs McNeil’s breakthrough might be coming — his average exit speed was actually the second highest of his career — but it never came. He kept adjusting his approach and adjusting his hand placement, which he says did more harm than help.
It’s possible that a few other hit voices — coach Chili Davis was fired last May — didn’t help either. A season later with a hitting coach, Eric Chavez, with whom he is “on the same page,” McNeil is hoping for better, more consistent results.
During the offseason, McNeil looked back on video clips of his at-bats in 2018 as he shot through the Mets’ system and then posted an .852 OPS in 63 major league games.
“I think 18 I had the same momentum all year. You can go back and watch videos from opening day in the minors to last day in the big leagues and for the most part it’s pretty damn close,” McNeil told The Post. “I think this year it’s just that if you have a bad game, don’t change anything.”
If analysis points to a bigger problem than bad luck with McNeil’s momentum last season, it would come from his groundball rate — the worst 46.6 percent of his career.
“Grounders are out in the big leagues, especially with the shift,” said McNeil, whose pull-heavy play has made him a frequent victim of shifts. “I know when I’m fine I fly to the right – that’s a good sign. That means my bat path is good, you just missed it.”
Manager Buck Showalter said he could say McNeil was “in a good place.”
After a low-strike season and a falling out with Francisco Lindor ahead of an offseason filled with trade rumors, the Mets are hopeful he’s ready to bounce back.
“You can tell he’s planning to go the other way,” Showalter said. “He could mean a lot to us.”
After several rounds of cuts, the Mets’ major league roster has shrunk to 40 players.
Catcher Francisco Alvarez, the team’s top pick, topped the list of picks driven out. The 20-year-old won 4-1 with a home run in the Grapefruit League game.
Also reassigned were catchers Nick Meyer, infielders Brett Baty and Matt Reynolds, outfielders Jake Mangum and Carlos Cortes, right-handers José Rodríguez and Antonio Santos, and left-handers Rob Zastryzny and Josh Walker.
In addition, right-hander Yennsy Diaz was selected to Triple-A Syracuse.
https://nypost.com/2022/03/28/mets-jeff-mcneil-now-in-a-good-place-tough-last-season/ Mets’ Jeff McNeil is ‘in a good place’ now in his final season.