Category Archives: Mets Jerseys 2019

Jacob Rhame Jersey

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One day in the far away year of 2050, some kid is going to look at the 2019 Mets roster and give the name Jacob Rhame no more than two seconds of undivided attention before moving on to the more flashy names that filled the pitching staff. After all, Rhame only made his way into five games this season and had a thoroughly unimpressive six innings of work to go along with it, so why would anyone care about his season next week let alone thirty years from now?

Well, for those of us lucky enough to live through the roller coaster that was the 2019 Mets, Jacob Rhame will always be remembered as the man who poked the bear known as Rhys Hoskins and started the first of many questionable rivalries between the Mets and some of the most mediocre teams that the National League had to offer.

The story of Jacob Rhame’s season can be told using only the second and third of the five games he took the field for. On April 23, the Mets held a 9-0 lead over the Phillies and Rhame was given the honor of completing the ninth inning and putting the final stamp on the Mets’ victory. The first two batters came and went without issue, but the third batter, Rhys Hoskins, is where things got interesting.

The first pitch that Hoskins saw sailed behind him and slammed into the backstop resulting in Hoskins taking a few steps towards the mound and the rest of both dugouts awkwardly shuffling their way towards the field. Fortunately, that disagreement came and went, but six pitches later, Rhame sailed another pitch up and in on the perturbed Phillie. After the game, Rhame insisted that there were no ill intentions and he was only trying his best to work inside. Considering that Rhame looks more like a guy that spends his days headhunting for the best head of lettuce in his local Whole Foods rather than trying to hurl baseballs at guy’s noggins, some may be inclined to believe his excuse. When spoken with after the game, Gabe Kapler, Rhys Hoskins, and Bryce Harper were not fooled by Rhame’s innocent appearance and denials of wrongdoing.

One day later, Rhame was called upon to pitch the ninth inning again, this time with the Mets in a 4-0 hole and Rhys Hoskins due up second in the inning. After walking Bryce Harper to lead off the inning, it was time for Hoskins to get his revenge in the only way he knows how. Of course, Hoskins lined a ball just over the wall in left field to extend the Phillies lead to six, but the real revenge came in his 34-second promenade around the bases. For context, Bartolo Colon rounded the bases almost four full seconds faster than Hoskins did.

Already thoroughly embarrassed, things only got worse for Rhame the night of April 25. Just after the conclusion of the game, it was announced that the league had suspended Rhame two games for throwing up and in twice on Hoskins. After that day, Rhame found himself in a weird sort of limbo where he needed to be on the major league roster to serve his suspension, but the team had no reason to keep him around as dead weight for the two days he would sit. As a result, he wouldn’t suit up with the big league club for almost three full months. For the rest of the season, Rhame would only pitch twice more for the Mets, once on July 19 and again on August 3 before elbow surgery ended his season a little over a week later.

With everything put together, Jacob Rhame pitched 6.1 innings for the Mets to the tune of a 4.26 ERA with nine walks and five strikeouts to his name. By all accounts, Rhame’s season is no more historic or noteworthy than Tim Stauffer’s stint with the Mets in 2015, but for those two days in April, Rhame was the talk of the town for all the wrong reasons. The curious kid in 2050 may not have a use for Rhame, but today he’s one of the dozens of little stories that makes the six month, 162 game season as entertaining as it is.

Corey Oswalt Jersey

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Corey Oswalt was originally drafted in the 7th round of the 2012 MLB amateur draft out of Madison High School in San Diego California by the New York Mets. He made his Major League debut April 25th, 2018 against the St Louis Cardinals throwing 4.2 innings while allowing 2 earned runs, 2 hits while striking out 4 and walking none.

There is a chance and an argument that Oswalt has a future with the Mets. Although he has struggled in his limited time given in the majors with an ERA approaching 6.50, there is some hope he can turn that around. He has pitched in a small sample size of only 71 innings and is only in his age 25 season, so he does have time to find himself and turn it around.
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We could see Oswalt with the team sooner rather than later, too. Zack Wheeler will be a free agent this winter and it is hard to imagine they bring him back since they have a lot of money locked up to Jacob deGrom, Robinson Cano, and even Yoenis Cespedes for one more year. If they do bring back Wheeler it is unlikely they will have the money for Noah Syndergaard or Long Island native Steven Matz, not to mention any of the young position players. It is also hard to imagine they bring back Jason Vargas who has a team option for 2020 at $8 million, so that leaves two open spots in the rotation next year.
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Knowing all of these, we have to ask, is Oswalt a serious candidate for a rotation spot?

Oswalt has pitched pretty well during his career in the minors and he will not be a free agent until 2025. In 533.1 minor league innings, his ERA is a respectable 3.70. Oswalt obviously is not a 1 or 2 starter but he could slot right in the back end of a rotation.

The Mets do have some solid pitching prospects that are coming up and could pass Oswalt in the depth charts for the starting rotation in years to come, most notably Anthony Kay. Even though we could see Kay towards the end of the 2019 season, it is more likely we see him in 2020. This would still leave one spot in the rotation for Oswalt.

Assuming the Mets let Wheeler go this offseason when he becomes a free agent (or trade him beforehand) and decline the option on Vargas, they will still need another starter. As long as nobody is traded between now and Opening Day 2020, the Mets rotation will include deGrom, Syndergaard, and Matz. There is a good shot Kay could break the rotation, still leaving one spot open. If the Mets decide to spend money on the lineup or even extend some younger guys, that last spot could be filled for extremely cheap with Oswalt.

Even if the Mets decide to go a different route with their rotation next year or the next couple years, we could still see Oswalt in the rotation in the future since he is under control for so many years.

Oswalt could also be turned into a relief man. He has had a couple of relief appearances in both the majors and minors. We have seen the Mets turn starting pitchers into relief pitchers before, and successful ones at that. If the Mets do decide to add to their rotation without Oswalt, we could see him crack the bullpen in the next few years.

Since Oswalt is under team control for the next multiple years and at a relatively cheap rate, we could easily see him have a spot on the team for the next couple years. If he can translate his minor league success to the big leagues, he may find a permanent spot on the roster.

Chris Mazza Jersey

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Chris Mazza waited for the rain to stop. Then, his decades-long wait would be over.

Replacing starter Steven Matz after a 70-minute rain delay at Citi Field, Mazza made a strong major league debut in a 5-4 loss to the Braves, as the 29-year-old threw four innings, and was in line for Saturday’s win, before the Mets’ latest late-inning collapse extended their losing streak to seven.

Following an emotional call-up Wednesday, and three games spent watching from the bullpen, Mazza entered at the start of the third inning and allowed one run and five hits, with no walks and two strikeouts.

“For it to finally get here was amazing,” Mazza said. “It was a dream come true. I’ll never forget it for the rest of my life.”

Mazza, a former 27th-round pick, had labored in the minors since 2012 — also appearing in independent leagues — bouncing around the farm systems of the Twins, Marlins and Mariners. The Mets selected him in December’s Rule 5 Draft, starting him at Double-A Binghamton then promoting him to Triple-A Syracuse.
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With the Mets trailing 2-0 in Saturday’s second inning, the rain began to fall. When the tarp was introduced, the rookie knew his long-awaited moment might be on deck.

“When you’re in the position I’m at, they’re gonna use me as long relief, [so] once that tarp goes on, you have it in the back of your head and you gotta start getting ready just in case,” Mazza said.

The moment looked nothing like Mazza long envisioned. The right-hander’s second pitch resulted in a Ronald Acuna Jr. single. His third pitch became a Dansby Swanson RBI double.

“Two hits right away, not how I planned,” Mazza said. “I think [there was] a little bit of nerves and everything, and then once that went away … now it’s time to compete.”

Briefly looking like the team’s latest lackluster option out of the bullpen, Mazza instead became the first Mets pitcher to throw at least four innings and allow no more than one run in his debut since Jacob deGrom (May 2014).

In the bottom of the fourth, Mazza briefly felt the wrath of the boo-happy crowd when he popped up a bunt, but the California native — whose parents and girlfriend were in attendance — quickly won back the affection of the crowd.
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In the fifth, Mazza surrendered a one-out double to Acuna, but kept the Mets within one by retiring Swanson and Freeman. With two out and two aboard in the sixth, Tyler Flowers hit a pop-up in foul territory, sending Mazza sprinting towards the dugout, diving for the ball. He failed to secure the out but received enthusiastic applause from the crowd for his effort. Three pitches later, Mazza was screaming, fired up after recording an inning-ending strikeout.

“That’s just instinct, being as competitive as I am. I try to get everything I can,” Mazza said. “I fell a little short on it, but in the long run it felt really good to get that strikeout.”

Mazza, who threw 62 pitches (40 strikes), inched towards his first win when the Mets scored a pair in the bottom of the sixth, but Seth Lugo blew up again in the eighth, giving away the lead via back-to-back solo homers.

“He pitched good enough to get the win,” Mickey Callaway said of Mazza. “He did a great job. He was very impressive, so it’s a positive to take out of tonight. It was a good pitch mix, he went through some pretty good hitters and did a great job.”

Steven Matz Jersey

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Mets LHP Steven Matz is a pivotal player for the Mets, which means the difference between making or missing the playoffs could hinge on how he performs in 2019.

Assuming each takes the mound 30 times this season, Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard will again be among the league’s elite pitchers. There’s every reason to believe Zack Wheeler, in his walk year, will continue his terrific turn-around from 2018. Jason Vargas (and the pitchers behind him) should never be counted on to be a difference-maker at any point in the season.

This leaves Matz, who, at 27 years old, is at a make-or-break point in his career. And he could be poised for a breakout.

The fact is, as he enters what is historically considered a player’s prime, he’s had just one impact season out of the four he’s thrown in the big leagues. Also at play are his total innings on the mound, during which a player gains experience and knowledge about how to pitch as opposed to just throwing.

At this point in the career of a left-handed starting pitcher like Matz, most guys have thrown 650 innings and made 120 starts. Matz has essentially half that work load under his belt, which means he has spent 50 percent less time learning and feeling out situations than many who have come before him.

Matz is up to the challenge, though. He may be quiet and one of the most friendly, nicest people in baseball. But, at his core, he’s as competitive as deGrom and Syndergaard.

Health has been his big obstacle in his previous seasons. Matz began his professional life by having Tommy John surgery, which delayed the start of his career. Since then, he’s dealt with and eventually had a bone spur removed from his elbow, he’s had his ulnar nerve moved, he had an issue with his finger and has battled a variety of back issues, all of which were reportedly received with frustration by the organization.

“He needs to understand that pitchers pitch in pain, it’s part of life,” a clubhouse source told me in 2017, parroting a talking point that existed within the front office as well. “The great pitchers aren’t just great because they’re healthy. The difference is that they learned to prepare between starts, they’ve learned how to manage their body, pitch through whatever their issue is that day and allow themselves to be great.”

Matz projects to have a low 4.00 ERA, a 1.25 WHIP and his typical low 90s fastball and traditional swinging-strike rate, according to a composite of all the major statistical systems.

The above is likely a 2.0 WAR season and perfectly fine for third or fourth starting pitcher. Matz and the Mets will enter this coming season in hopes of more production, though.

In 2018, he reached a career-high in starts (30) and innings pitched (154). According to his friends and family, after finally staying on the mound for a full season, Matz has been given a sense of relief never experienced during his first seven years as a professional baseball player.

In other words, if he’s going to take the next step in his career, which would mean another 30 starts, closer to 200 innings, an ERA lower than 3.30 and at least 3.5 WAR while receiving national attention, this is it. This is the year to make it happen. And if it does, suddenly the Mets will have three aces (potentially four if Wheeler carries over his 2018 success) and without question the best rotation in MLB.

Hopefully, going 150 innings, pitching through pain and making 30 starts put his past frustrations to bed and gave Matz the experience and lessons needed to repeat his workload.

Because, when healthy and strong, Matz knows he can pitch on par with his best friend, deGrom.

“They room together, their families are close, they support each-other through good and bad, but they also have a healthy competition,” former Mets pitching coach Dan Warthen told me during spring training, 2016. “I’d love to see them both at the top of their game and what that dynamic would be like for a full season.”

In 2016, deGrom missed all of September to undergo surgery that decompressed and repositioned the ulnar nerve in his pitching elbow. According to deGrom, this alleviated a significant amount of chronic pain, which in large part helped him throw 200 innings in 2017 and become the best pitcher in the National League in 2018.

Matz underwent the same surgery in late 2017. And, like deGrom the year after his surgery, Matz finished with a career-high in innings and starts in a season. Now, I’m not saying he will elevate his game and become the best pitcher in the National League in year two just because that’s what his happened to his buddy deGrom. But, damn, wouldn’t that be nice if it did happen…

Mets GM Brodie Van Wagenen never discussed Matz in trade proposals with other teams this offseason, according to team sources. Van Wagenen, manager Mickey Callaway and pitching coach Dave Eiland believe Matz crossed a career threshold in 2018 that he’s mentally and physically capable of building on in 2019.

“He’s got a tremendous arm. I love the way he throws inside to righties, so he neutralizes that component that usually hurts a left-handed starting pitcher, and he’s gonna continue to improve,” Callaway said on WFAN earlier this winter. “He’s a great worker, a great guy, and Eiland is gonna get him where he needs to be.”

Eiland and Callaway are on record saying they spent a lot of time last season helping Matz break down his game pitch-by-pitch, looking at each moment as an isolated event with its own unique context. During games that he was not pitching, Eiland would encourage Matz to put himself in the mind of the pitcher and hitter to continue the task of thinking about each solitary moment.

My hope is that Matz continues using the same release point that he used after returning from the DL last summer. The adjustment ended up getting hitters to swing more at pitches inside the strike zone. The weak contact helped him throw fewer pitches each inning, which played a large role in him reaching 150 innings. To do this for a full season, especially if he uses his curveball more frequently than he has, Matz should have no trouble creating quick innings and pushing on 200 innings for the season.

In addition, it’s important to keep Matz pitching every five days.

I’ve heard Eiland believes it is important for Matz to keep his body and mind moving and never allowing for downtime, which can tighten up muscles and allow doubt and bad habits to creep in.

From what I can gather, at the end of this past season, Eiland prepared a strength and conditioning and pitching program for Matz that will keep him loose and throwing every few days, including throwing multiple bullpen sessions between starts during the season. The plan, like it was for deGrom lat season, was to start the programs a few weeks after the end of this past season.

To date, Matz has been frequently described as having “good stuff,” and a lot of “potential.” He took a big step toward being the pitcher he hoped to be when the Mets drafted him out of Ward Melville High School in 2009.

Finally, the evidence, experience and stars are aligned for him to put all of the above behind him and add his name to the mix of pitchers considered to be among the best in baseball.

Robert Gsellman Jersey

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Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: the Mets had high hopes that Robert Gsellman would take a step forward in 2019, living up to some of the potential he flashed as a starter in 2016-2017. Unfortunately, in a refrain that is practically committed to memory by this point, Gsellman continued to struggle with consistency this season.

On an appearance by appearance basis, Gsellman would occasionally look dominant, but he was seemingly unable to get a string of quality appearances of any real length. His best stretch in 2019 was from April 30 to May 22, where he allowed no earned runs over 12 innings (in eight appearances). The next longest streak of clean innings came from July 26th to August 6, where four of his five appearances included at least one strikeout in seven and two-thirds innings.

But those are the outlier stretches of an otherwise lost season. But because of the sheer incompetence of the Mets’ bullpen overall this season, Gsellman was given plenty of chances to break out of his prolonged slump, but couldn’t really do so. His 52 appearances by August 11 was the most on the team for a relief pitcher, and even with missing the final seven weeks of the season, only came in fourth to Edwin Diaz, Jeurys Familia, and Seth Lugo in appearances.

August 11 was the last appearance by Gsellman in 2019, as he was diagnosed with a partial lat tear that required surgery and ended his season.

It would be helpful if there was some statistic that could be pointed to as the reason for Gsellman’s struggles, but it appears that this is just sort of who he is at this point in his career. His upside is such that he deserves another shot in the Mets’ bullpen, but his reality is such that he probably shouldn’t get too many high leverage chances, at least early on.

The other abiding mystery with Gsellman is why some, including teammates like Jeff McNeil, still pronounce his name “Ji-sellman” instead of “Gi-sellman,” which is clearly how all broadcasters say it and, we can presume, they asked him how he pronounces it. The mystery of his consistency may be greater, but both are intriguing in their own ways.

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The Minnesota Twins lost one of their top pitching prospects on Monday as left-hander Stephen Gonsalves was claimed off of waivers from the New York Mets. The 25-year old was coming off a lost season in 2019 due to an elbow injury but the 2013 fourth-round pick also flashed some potential as he came up through the Twins system.

Gonsalves entered the Twins organization out of high school and quickly made an impression in the lower levels of their system. After putting together a pair of solid seasons in his first two years, he exploded onto the scene as a 20-year old in 2015 going 13-3 with a 2.01 ERA between Low-A Cedar Rapids and High-A Fort Myers.

That trend continued as he posted another solid season the following year going 13-5 with a 2.06 ERA between Fort Myers and Double-A Chattanooga and broke into the top prospect lists nationally ranking as high as 78th on MLB Pipeline’s top 100 prospects list prior to the 2018 season and 97th on Baseball America’s top 100 prospects list that same year.

That would lead to his major league debut for a Twins team that struggled mightily in 2018 and while he showed some decent stuff, his overall numbers were what you would expect from a rookie, going 2-2 with a 6.57 ERA in seven appearances for Minnesota.

The season could have set up an opportunity to help the Twins’ injury and performance-ravaged rotation late in the season, but after suffering a stress reaction in his forearm in mid-May, the Twins opted to shut him down.

The Mets will hope to get the most out of the 6-5 left-hander as the Twins look to overhaul their rotation. While Gonsalves likely wasn’t going to fit the bill of “impact pitching,” he could have provided depth that the Twins will have to look for somewhere else.

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By the end of the 2018 season, Edwin Diaz had firmly established himself as one of the best closers in all of Major League Baseball.

Then just 24 years old, Diaz led the MLB in saves (57) while also boasting a 1.96 ERA and 15.2 K/9. With a dynamic fastball and a wipeout slider, Diaz seemed primed to dominate opposing hitters for years to come. At least, that is what the New York mets believed when they traded for him last winter.

Unfortunately for the Mets, Diaz took a big step back in 2019. He posted a 5.59 ERA and seven blown saves in 58 innings of work, eventually ceding the closer role to Seth Lugo.

Still, Diaz believes that he can get back to the elite level that he was at with the Seattle Mariners (via Anthony DiComo of MLB.com):

“Just because I’ve had one bad season, doesn’t mean I’m a bad pitcher,” Díaz said through an interpreter in late September, “especially when I’ve had three great seasons in Seattle. The fourth one went bad, but you just have to continue working so you can get back to that level.”

Diaz also asserted that his ability to reestablish the slider will be crucial to his success next year:

“For sure, the slider’s the most important pitch,” Díaz said. “My goal is to get that back to what it has been in years past. I’ve always said the fastball, anyone can hit the fastball. That’s a pitch about location. But the slider, that’s the main goal just to get that right again so I can be effective.”

Opponents hit close to .300 with a .622 slugging percentage off of Diaz’s slider last season.

It is also worth mentioning that former Mets manager Mickey Callaway was criticized for his handling of Diaz last season after using him for multiple-inning saves.

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The New York Mets made a handful of roster moves on Monday afternoon, as per a team announcement.

In addition to officially extending a $17.8 million qualifying offer to right-hander Zack Wheeler, the Mets also added left-hander Blake Taylor to the 40-man roster ahead of the 5 PM ET deadline to either do so or let the player leave via free agency, and claimed left-hander Stephen Gonsalves off waivers from the Minnesota Twins.

Taylor, 24, was the player to be named later in the 2014 trade that sent Ike Davis to Pittsburgh for Zack Thornton. Over 40 appearances (66.2 innings) between Advanced-A St. Lucie, Double-A Binghamton, and Triple-A Syracuse last season, the southpaw pitched to a 2.16 ERA with 74 strikeouts and 24 walks.

The Dana Point, California product allowed just two earned runs over seven appearances in the Arizona Fall League this season, striking out 11 and walking two while being named to the league’s All-Star team.

Gonsalves, 25, was the highest-ranked pitching prospect in the Twins’ organization and the ninth-ranked left-hander in the minor leagues as recently as January 2018, via MLB Pipeline.

He pitched to a 2.76 ERA with 120 strikeouts and 60 walks over 23 appearances (22 starts) between Double-A Chattanooga and Triple-A Rochester in 2018 before making his MLB debut in August of that year (6.57 ERA,16 strikeouts, 22 walks over seven appearances; four starts).

Gonsalves dealt with a stress reaction in his left elbow/forearm early in the 2019 season but returned to action in late-August (4.15 ERA over eight appearances; six starts).

We’ll keep you posted with more information as it becomes available.

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Around this time a year ago, New York Mets hit machine Jeff McNeil had just finished up his first taste of MLB action, and it went pretty well. Through 248 plate appearances, he managed to post a 137 wRC+ and 2.7 fWAR off the strength of a solid .329/.381/.471 line. There wasn’t a ton of home-run power (just three dingers), but with his ability to put the ball in play and get on base at a high clip, it wasn’t much of a problem.

McNeil basically picked up in 2019 where he left off as a rookie in 2018 — especially in the first half. The 27-year-old found himself atop the batting average leaderboard heading into the All-Star break with a .349 mark. That also included seven home runs in 318 plate appearances, which was already a new single-season career high. As we all know, though, McNeil hit a level in the second half that not many were expecting based off his brief time in the big leagues to that point.

The 2019 All-Star launched another 16 long balls following the midsummer respite to give him 23 for the season. While his .276 second-half batting average took him out of the batting title race, he finished with a slightly better wRC+ than his rookie campaign (143) and a superb 4.6 fWAR that was among the 30 best in baseball when looking at qualified hitters.

En route to this incredible year, McNeil did some things many were likely expecting from him. He swung the bat a lot, made a ton of contact, and didn’t strikeout nearly as much the average ballplayer. The biggest surprise was easily this power surge. After all, the utility player watched his ISO grow from .143 to .214 and his hard-hit rate go from 30.2% to 37.6% while his soft-hit rate went from 22.0% to 11.2%. But what got even more interesting when digging into his performance was how he did when facing certain pitches.

When looking at things like ISO and wRC+, McNeil pummeled curveballs (.426 ISO and 180 wRC) more than any other pitch, with five of his 23 dingers coming against the offering. However, it was his collective performance against fastballs (four-seamers, sinkers, and cutters) that caught my eye — especially when comparing his 2019 numbers to what he did the year prior.

Here’s a quick look at how his performance when facing those three pitches in particular shook out during his impressive rookie season:

And, of course, here’s what the progression ended up looking like once his 2019 season was officially in the books:

If we’re also purely looking at the change in homers hit between these two seasons — which makes sense because of the huge jump in that total number from 2018 to 2019 — we get the same results. As a rookie, McNeil didn’t hit a single dinger against a four-seamer, sinker, or cutter. In fact, he didn’t hit more than one homer against any pitch he saw. But just a year later, he made the necessary adjustments and hit 12 of his 23 homers off a four-seamer (seven), sinker (four), or cutter (one).

McNeil’s particular aggression against four-seam fastballs — the pitch he saw the most from opposing pitchers — is particularly interesting. When looking at his overall swing rate by pitch faced, the left-handed hitter didn’t produce a percentage lower than 53.0% in any situation. That wasn’t much different than the year before, but the differences start showing when that swing rate is broken down a bit more.

If his chase rate is singled out, the 28.9% mark he posted against four-seamers was the only pitch where he produced a rate below 37.0%. Meanwhile, McNeil’s swing rate on strikes was up at 84.1% against four-seamers, with only his swing rate on changeups being slightly higher (84.9%). While the contact rate for that specific situation didn’t change much, the lift he saw in his quality of contact helped make a big difference.

The fact that McNeil finished with a .318 batting average in 2019 isn’t a shock. Based on the bat-to-ball skills he showcased as a rookie, it certainly felt like that was within his range of outcomes. The power was a surprise, even though he combined to hit 19 homers across Double-A and Triple-A in 2018 before getting called up to the big leagues. It seems as if all McNeil needed to do was adjust a bit to how opposing pitchers were attacking him in order for those power numbers to spike.

New York has gotten incredible value for his performance thus far. According to FanGraphs, McNeil’s 7.3 career fWAR has been worth $58.2 million. He’s earned just under $770K during that time, and will continue to be an extreme bargain in 2020 and 2021 prior to becoming arbitration eligible for the first time.

Now that he’s firmly in the Mets’ plans moving forward (unlike last winter), it’ll be fun to continue watching him progress as a player while approaching his physical prime.