Jeff McNeil cites 2021 struggles for helping him win batting title: ‘I found the real hitter I am’
The Mets made their four-year, $50 million contract extension with second baseman Jeff McNeil official on Tuesday afternoon.
McNeil, who says he’s “super excited” to stay in New York, is coming off an extremely strong 2022 campaign.
He took home the battling title after posting a .326 batting average and recorded a career-high 174 hits, .382 OBP, and 39 doubles. He also finished 15th in NL MVP voting and took home the Silver Slugger at second base.
His stellar 2022 season, of course, came on the heels of an extremely poor 2021 campaign. McNeil struggled for the first time in his professional career and finished the year with a .256 average.
While the results weren’t quite there, McNeil’s advanced metrics remained the same. He still wasn’t striking out much and was putting the ball in play at an extremely high clip.
However, he appeared to have gotten away from himself and was hitting into some tough luck. As a result, many expected McNeil to bounce back in a big way, and that’s exactly what he did.
So what exactly led to that rebound at the plate?
While speaking with SNY’s Steve Gelbs in an exclusive interview on Tuesday, McNeil actually cited his 2021 struggles for helping him find himself at the plate.
“Having a bad year in 2021 was not fun for me. It wasn’t where I wanted to be but I think it actually helped me win the batting title. I found out what works and what didn’t work for me,” he said.
“I got back to who I was in 2022 and I think I found the real hitter I am. I can take that into some future years, and hopefully there’s many more battling titles to come.”
McNeil and the Mets are looking to build off a tremendous 2022 season, not just for him, but the team in general. After winning 101 games, and having a busy offseason, he knows the expectations are sky high for this group heading into spring training.
“We were a really good team last year. We were a 101 win team, by far the most wins I’ve had as a New York Met. That team was special,” McNeil said. “We want to go a lot further than we did last year, I know it was disappointing losing to the Padres.
“We want to be a World Series-contending team. I love what we’ve done this offseason, brought in some amazing players and I think we’re going to be even better this year.”