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Jeff McNeil May Need To Move Back To Left Field

Arguably, Jeff McNeil was the most important player on the Mets last year. In addition to his 144 OPS+, he was a good defender at four different positions.

It’s still early in 2020, but we’re not seeing the same McNeil this year.

In terms of his offense, it’s way too soon to overreact. First off all, he still has a 112 OPS+. Second, it’s only six games. Mostly, we’ve seen him for over two years now. We have an idea of the good of a hitter he is.

What we really don’t know is how good of a third baseman he is. Yes, his career numbers are good. He entered this season with a 5 DRS, and he’s posted a 2 OAA at the position in each of the past two years.

We’ve also seen him play well across the diamond. Defensively, he appears to have a high baseball IQ, and he’s got the tools to be a good defender no matter where he plays. Still, at third, we really haven’t seen him get consistent playing time at third.

Early on this season, we’ve seen his arm look like it could be an issue. So far this year, he’s already made three errors with one of those being a throwing error. Of course, that’s only part of the story.

McNeil has been saved of a few errors by Pete Alonso. He was also the beneficiary of some bizarre home town scoring which probably saved him of two errors in Boston.

Now, it’s way too soon to officially say McNeil should move off third base due to his arm. After all, if you’ve been watching, he seems a bit rusty right now. We see he’s not quite hitting at the same level yet, and we’ve seen him make more than enough mental errors on that base paths.

If he’s rusty, it’s certainly understood with the long layoff due to COVID19 and the abbreviated Summer Camp. That said, his ability to consistently make those throws should be monitored.

The Mets should also be assessing their roster with the roster spots soon dropping down to 30 and Jake Marisnick‘s injury.

On that note, J.D. Davis‘ defense in left has continued to be putrid. He has shown no signs of improvement from last year, and he’s already at a -3 DRS. Fact is, he’s very ill suited to playing left, and his defense has already led to outs and singled being turned into extra base hits.

At some point, if McNeil continues to struggle with throws, the Mets should seriously consider putting him back in left. The Mets could then experiment with Davis in left, or better yet, they could look to play Andres Gimenez at third if he continues to do things like hitting an RBI triple.

In any event, it’s too soon to be making rash decisions with McNeil. Then again, this is an abbreviated season where there is not much room for error. Moreover, the Mets are in desperate need for a real left fielder.

It’s only been a week, and it appears the Mets have some very difficult decisions to make.

10 thoughts on “Jeff McNeil May Need To Move Back To Left Field”

  1. David Klein says:

    Davis was +1 at third base last year according to statcast play him there.

    1. metsdaddy says:

      I noted that possibility in the article

      1. oldbackstop says:

        You did? Anyway. Davis at third?….he didn’t play there all summer camp, they are clearly committed to McNeil there, I’m fine with that. McNeil was strong there last year, let him settle into a positon, that is important….and it is with JD in left. He had literally no time at 3rd in summer camp, and he has made some highlight reel plays in left.

        I notice you don’t suggest Dom at third, or at left, or….anywhere. Wouldn’t his speed and arm and quickness and amazing athleticism make him a shoe-in at third. Maybe pitching??? If we needed a CF and only Dom and JD were available, who would you pick?

        Also…you crapped all over JD when he had three errors in his first 38 games last year….and you used those stats all year against him Why the sudden love for McNeil….with 3 errors in SEVEN games, plus some suspiciously sweetheart calls that could have added to that? All he needs to do is take left field from JD and Dom?. Where will Dom get his ABs? Is he going to bump Yo-C from DH or Alonso from 1B?

        No. McNeil stays at third, where he was fine last year, better than fine. If Yo-C can’t get over the Mendoza line, we give Dom some DH ABs, or maybe slip Alonso some DHs and give Dom some innings at first.

        I have no issues with Dom, as long as we keep him out of left. He is a trainwreck there..

        1. metsdaddy says:

          That’s right. I didn’t say put players where they’re ill-suited to play. It’s called honest analysis.

          You should try it some time.

    2. oldbackstop says:

      DK: “Davis was +1 at third base last year according to statcast play him there.””

      Blasphemy!!!

  2. oldbackstop says:

    Sorry, but…this guy is a freaking idiot. Gimenez at third, McNeil to left, Davis and Dom on the bench? What moron advocates that?

    1. metsdaddy says:

      Someone who realizes JD Davis is literally the worst LF in the game and who knows defense matters.

    2. metsdaddy says:

      So, you see tonight’s game where Gimenez was great, and Davis forgot how to catch the ball?

      1. David Klein says:

        Davis had a monster game

        1. metsdaddy says:

          His defense was monstrous

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