Jeff McNeil’s surprising woes big part of Mets’ issues

Just about in all places Jeff McNeil has performed, he has hit and hit typically.

His 2021 has been a a lot completely different story.

The Mets’ utilityman was certain to hit underneath .292 over the course of a full season as a professional sooner or later — although he had not in any of his first eight years within the group — however his drop-off this season has been stark.

McNeil entered Tuesday’s recreation towards the Cardinals batting .248 with a .666 OPS, each career-lows. He is way from the one Met having a down year offensively, part of the explanation the workforce ranks among the many worst offenses within the league, however his constant bat has largely been lacking because the Mets attempt to put collectively a playoff push.

“It’s been different,” supervisor Luis Rojas stated Tuesday. “For a lot of guys it has been. He’s had a couple stretches here and there. He hasn’t exactly gotten hot to the level where we’ve seen him get hot before. He hasn’t hit for power like he has before. … He’s a guy that, he’s pretty easy barrel to ball. He hasn’t been that guy consistently this year.”

Jeff McNeil
Corey Sipkin

McNeil’s energy has additionally gone lacking. He was not a big house run hitter most of his minor league career, however hit 22 throughout three ranges in 2018 and a career-high 23 with the Mets in 2019.

Entering Tuesday, he had six house runs this season — none in his previous 39 video games. Since his final house run on Aug. 1, McNeil had a .200/.255/.262 slash line.

“It’s been really tough to explain,” Rojas stated. “He’s put the ball on the ground a lot this year. Swing has been a little different than the last couple years. But he’s been on the search for a while. I think he’s found himself, but he just lost it the same day or two days later. It hasn’t been consistent.”

McNeil’s ground-ball rate was a career-high 46.3 %, based on Baseball Savant. But it was 44.4 % in 2020, when he hit .311 with a .836 OPS, and 43.6 % in 2019 when he hit .318 with a .916 OPS. His line-drive rate was additionally all the way down to 23.5 % this season.

After McNeil missed a month earlier this season with a hamstring pressure after which battled “leg fatigue” in July, Rojas questioned if some of these issues might have performed a task within the lack of manufacturing.

“I don’t know if that was something that affected him, from a lower-half standpoint to work well with his swing to drive the ball better,” Rojas stated.

McNeil’s struggles have been amplified on Monday evening when he got here up empty in a pair of big spots — hanging out with the bases loaded within the first inning and once more with runners on the corners within the eighth. He didn’t conceal his frustration both time, as he typically wears his feelings on his sleeve, although Rojas stated he was not involved about McNeil carrying it over from game-to-game.

After Monday’s struggles, he dropped to batting .176 (15-for-85) with runners in scoring position this season — an space he had largely been profitable in (hitting .326) earlier than this year.

Still, Rojas pointed to McNeil swinging the bat higher of late — he was hitting .290 (9-for-31) in his final 9 video games earlier than Tuesday — as he has develop into the Mets’ on a regular basis left fielder since Javier Baez took over at second base.

“The two-strike approach, it’s almost like you’re facing two hitters in one at-bat,” Rojas stated. “You have that power hitter who can hit it over the fence pull-side early and has a lot of coverage in the strike zone. Or you have that scrappy two-strike hitter that you can’t strike out. He hasn’t been that guy. But I feel he’s going to finish strong.”

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