With the New York Mets offense struggling, it may be possible that Luis Rojas considers shuffling the lineup, specifically, Jeff McNeil and others could be shuffled. With starters already coming off the injured list, the Mets have already had to move around the lineup a bit. Second baseman Jeff McNeil has not been immune to lineup changes throughout his career. Since coming into the league in 2018, McNeil has started in seven different slots in the lineup. He’s been in the starting lineup in every spot except the cleanup spot and the nine-hole. With guys like Brandon Nimmo and Michael Conforto coming back into the lineup to slot into their usual spots, it’ll be interesting to see how Jeff McNeil fits into the Mets lineup.
Possible Spots For McNeil to Hit
At the beginning of the season, McNeil spent plenty of time starting in five different slots in the lineup, including the leadoff spot, three-hole, five-hole, six-hole, and seven-hole. Since returning to the lineup, McNeil has batted exclusively in the leadoff or three-hole. McNeil, however, has been ice cold since coming off the injured list, mired in a 4-for-24 slump. This could have McNeil moving much lower in the lineup when Nimmo reclaims his role in the leadoff spot. With Francisco Lindor sitting comfortably in the two-hole and Pete Alonso and Conforto in the three and four-holes, McNeil will likely be hitting no higher than fifth in the order. McNeil, who has struggled in every spot in the lineup this season, will likely be slotting into the fifth or seventh spot in the lineup depending on when J.D. Davis gets back and when Dom Smith is playing.
In regards to where McNeil is best for the Mets, it’s probably in the seven-hole. McNeil has started 10 games in the five-hole and is a career .371 hitter when batting fifth. His on-base + slugging (OPS) is .878 out of the fifth spot in the lineup. Out of the seventh spot, however, McNeil is a career .342 hitter in 27 career games (22 starts). His OPS is 1.067 out of the seventh spot for his career. The only other spot in the lineup for McNeil would be the two-hole. That is if the Mets are willing to bump Lindor, Alonso, and Conforto each down a spot to 3-4-5. The two-hole was arguably the place for McNeil to thrive, before he changed his approach at the plate.
McNeil’s Approach Change Takes Him Out of Two-Hole
For the last three seasons for the Mets, McNeil was a contact hitter who would not strike out. McNeil would spray the ball all over the field and get hits because of it. Near the start of the 2021 season, it was revealed that McNeil saw himself more as a dead pull hitter. He has suffered because of it, hitting just .235 this season with an OPS of .670. McNeil is yet to be used out of the two spots once this season, though he’s a career .309 hitter in 72 games (70 starts) in the two-hole. His lack of use in the two-hole could possibly be because of his change in approach.
When it comes to how Jeff McNeil fits into the Mets lineup, it is likely in the seven-hole now. This would be due to his approach changing. If he was the same pesky, contact hitter who will get hits all over the field, he could easily fit in the two-hole. However, with McNeil attempting to reinvent himself as a pull hitter in combination with his success in the seven-hole, his best spot is likely right there. With a fully healthy Mets lineup, Nimmo, Lindor, and Alonso will likely be the top three in the lineup. They will likely be followed by a healthy Conforto, Smith, and Davis to round out the top six. McNeil would then be slotted into the seven-hole and James McCann would bat before the pitcher. This creates an extremely formidable Mets lineup when everyone is playing at a high level.