Reminder: Jeff McNeil Not Just A Second Baseman
When discussing the 2021 roster, we continue to wonder what the Mets will do at third, left, and center. Part of the rationale there is the overriding assumption Jeff McNeil will only play second.
This isn’t just the Mets furthering the talking point of 2018 that McNeil is only a second baseman. Really, it’s not that at all. Instead, it’s just finding a position for McNeil and a replacement for Robinson Cano.
That said, sticking McNeil at second is reaching the pathological. It’s at the point where many are suggesting Luis Guillorme is a possible option at third. Not second where he is great, but third.
Having McNeil on the roster is an absolute gift, and just pigeonholing him to second is baseball malpractice. Remember, not only can McNeil play multiple positions, but in his career, he has a positive DRS at all four positions he has played at the MLB level (2B, 3B, LF, RF).
Yes, you absolutely can play McNeil everyday at second. However, it is arguably his worst position. Even with his early season struggles there last year, third is actually his best position with left field probably his next best position.
In essence, this is like having Ben Zobrist in his prime. Yes, Zobrist did eventually settle at second, but he also played all over. The operating plan with Zobrist seemed to be he had to play everyday, but where he would play would be dictated by the rest of the roster and lineup.
That’s how the Mets should be entering this season. It’s all well and good to think McNeil could be your best second base option, but they can’t overlook displacing McNeil from that position and shifting him elsewhere should another option emerge.
Overall, if you’re limiting McNeil to just second, you’re taking away part of what makes him great. Instead of treating him like just a second baseman, they should treat him like the player who can and should be moved around the diamond to help the Mets offensively and defensively.