Jeff McNeil unfazed by hitting lower in Mets' batting order: 'This lineup is extremely deep'

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Alex Smith
·2 min read
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Jeff McNeil on the field close crop wearing pinstripe uniform
Jeff McNeil on the field close crop wearing pinstripe uniform

Throughout his career with the Mets, Jeff McNeil has typically found himself right near the top of the order.

But with the Mets now possessing one of their deepest and most talented lineups in recent years, McNeil, who has started 104 career games in the leadoff spot and 70 games in the two-hole, has found himself hitting sixth on Tuesday and now seventh on Wednesday as the Mets face the Phillies.

Meeting with reporters on Wednesday, McNeil explained that it doesn’t really matter much to him where he hits in the lineup, and his career slash line of .318/.382/.499 seems to back that up.

“This lineup is extremely deep. One through eight, we can kind of bat anywhere in the order,” McNeil said. “This lineup is so deep. Batting sixth, nothing’s going to change for me. Just going to go out there and do my best to get on base. … We’ve got a really strong one through five, so hopefully I’ll have some runners on base to drive in.”

McNeil went 0-for-4 on Monday night against the Phillies, the only Mets starter without a hit. But he slammed a ball to left-center field that was knocked down by the wind, a ball that likely would have left the park under different conditions.

Despite the 0-for, the Mets’ second baseman was still pleased with his swings, and it’s for the same reason he’s not concerned about his .109 spring batting average: He’s hitting the ball hard, and over time, these hard line drives are going to become hits.

“I feel really good. Spring training, I guess, wasn’t the numbers that I wanted, but I hit the ball extremely hard in spring,” McNeil explained. “I think it was the highest exit velo I’ve had in any spring training. So, I was hitting the ball well, just right at people. It was kind of like yesterday in the game, hit the ball well, just one got hung up in the win and the others were right at some people. The swing feels good, not worried about anything. Those hits will start to drop.

“It’s comforting. My numbers in spring training were not great, but the exit velo was there. I was squaring balls up. I hit a lot balls hard right at people, so I can carry that into the season and not worry about my swing. It’s not really my swing right now, it’s where I’m hitting the ball. Analytics defensive are so good right now, they know where to play guys, and it’s just unfortunate at times.”