Jeff McNeil Should Sit And Win Batting Title

When we discuss batting titles, we usually go back to Ted Williams hitting .406 in 1941. As the lore goes, Williams could have sat and hit .400 for the season. Instead, he played both ends of the doubleheader going 6-for-8 at the plate raising his average to .406.

We need to keep in mind that Boston Red Sox team finished the season 17 games behind the New York Yankees. All Williams had to play for that season was the batting title. Williams was also in a race with himself. He had the batting title locked up. It was all about hitting .400.

At the time, Williams was not literally batting .400. It was a .400 after .399 was rounded up. By going to the plate that day, he made it a more legitimate .400. More than that, that mark was all Williams had to play for that season. He made sure he was going to get it, and there would be no question we got it.

Fast forward to 2011, and Jose Reyes did not feel the same way as Williams did. The Mets were playing out the string having not been a factor in the National League East race since April. The only thing Reyes had to play for was winning that batting title. He went into the last game of the season ahead of Ryan Braun.

As the math worked out, if Reyes got a hit in his first at-bat, he would win the batting title (barring something like a 5-for-5 game for Braun). Reyes led off the top of the first, dropped down a bunt single, and then he came off the field.

That was all Reyes had to play for that season, and he took the easy way out. More than that, we all knew that was going to be his last game in a Mets uniform. Fans came out to see him try to win the batting title and to say good-bye. Make no mistake, Reyes earned that right, but it did leave a bitter taste with Mets fans and some parts of the baseball community.

That brings us to the present with Jeff McNeil. McNeil heads into the final game of the 2022 season leading Freddie Freeman in the batting race. McNeil is batting .326, and Freeman is at .322. In theory, Freeman can catch McNeil much like Braun could have caught Reyes. However, this is a completely different situation.

McNeil has played 147 games this season. After Kenley Jansen closed out the division title, many of the Mets players came out of the doubleheader. Not McNeil. McNeil played both ends of the doubleheader (much like Williams did in 1941). More than that, he switched from right field to second base to stay in that game.

McNeil stayed in for his doubleheader. He has done everything he could do over 147 games to try to win the batting title. More than that, he tried everything he could do to help the Mets make the postseason. For McNeil and the Mets, the postseason begins on Friday.

As the Mets attempted to win the division, he has not missed a game since the second game of the doubleheader on August 6. Before that, his last day he didn’t play on a game day was on July 23. This is a player who has answered the call and played nearly everyday. Through it all, he’s done everything he can do to win games. That includes raising his batting average on July 23 from .297 to .326.

McNeil has earned his batting title. He’s played everyday. Now, if he and the Mets want, it’s time to take a break, it’s time to take a break. Right now, the Mets and McNeil have to do what they need to do to try to win the World Series. At the moment, that’s the only thing that matters.