Advanced stats further prove Mets' Jeff McNeil is back to his old self

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Jeff McNeil hyped after scoring run in ninth inning in St. Louis grey uniforms
Jeff McNeil hyped after scoring run in ninth inning in St. Louis grey uniforms

Heading into the 2022 campaign, Jeff McNeil was determined to make his previous season an aberration. Known as a pesky hitter with solid gap-to-gap power, McNeil's change in approach to a potential power threat didn't yield the results he wanted.

McNeil would go on to slash just .251/.319/.360 with a .679 OPS over 120 games. It was a frustrating year to say the least for the 29-year-old.

But things have seemed to change now for the Mets utility man. He seems to be his old self again.

It's definitely a welcome sight to the Mets and their fans to see McNeil off to a hot start. And it's clear that his approach, whether it's connecting first pitch and getting on base, or taking a pitcher deep into an at-bat to come out on the winning end, is back and working.

The stats also prove it.

Baseball savant is showing first and foremost that McNeil owns a .396 weighted on-base percentage (wOBA), which basically calculates each method of reaching base but in terms of how it impacts run scoring (ex. a double is worth more than a single). That's a top eight percent mark in MLB so far this season.

But, despite having a .319 OBP last season, McNeil's wOBA was .301. That's due to only totaling 27 extra-base hits in 386 at-bats in 2021.

Even without that power approach, McNeil is still managing to get past first base when he's putting the ball in play. He already has seven doubles, one triple and a homer in 89 at-bats. And many of those have come from the bottom of the order -- however, Buck Showalter has been moving him up recently.

There's also McNeil's whiff rate, which are down on all types of pitches compared to last season:

- Fastballs: 11.1 percent (14.8 in 2021)
- Breaking: 19.1 percent (25.0)
- Offspeed: 19.4 percent (21.4)

Overall, his whiff percentage sits at 14.5 percent compared to 18.2 from last season.

A lot of that is due to McNeil fighting pitches off, choking up as usual on two-strike counts and just simply not trying to kill the ball.

Now, McNeil will obviously like to get that 30.4 chase rate down (27.7 percent), but he is making contact 76.4 percent of the time when he is chasing, which means he's staying at the plate and seeing another pitch at times.

The real question is can this continue for McNeil? Absolutely.

He seems to have just gotten rid of that heavy swing approach and is back to simply making contact, getting on base and letting the rest of his team, guys like Pete Alonso, Francisco Lindor and others, deal with the power supply.

Those homers will come, as they did in his All-Star 2019 season with 23. There's nothing he did then except take the pitches as they came and parked them. That's sometimes how baseball works for guys like McNeil.

And the Mets will be perfectly fine with that. He's producing the way they've expected since that '19 campaign, and Showalter has to love penciling him every night.