June 18, 2024

The hits keep coming for New York Mets second baseman Jeff McNeil — but not the kind that propelled him to the batting crown in 2022.

After being benched for the last three games to allow McNeil to “work on some things” and that it was “mental, (too),” McNeil has come under fire at the minor-league level. Brett Baty, who was called up as the Mets’ 27th man for the series in London, revealed the news on Friday when asked about his recent demotion.

“We’re about to offer some other players some opportunity, which hopefully won’t be permanent. I’m going to get some reps at second base and keep doing my thing. “I mean, it’s just part of the job,” Baty told reporters, per SNY, before being pressed about his second-base duties.

Baty informed reporters that he had yet to play a game at second base in Triple-A, despite being told he would get “a couple of games.” He played all over the field in high school and values his “defensive versatility.”

“I don’t know when or the timeframe or anything like that,” stated Baty. “I got some reps in (batting practice).”

Even if the Mets don’t publicly admit it — and Baty’s 86 OPS+ this season doesn’t justify an everyday spot — McNeil’s struggles, combined with the Mets’ logjam between Baty and Mark Vientos, both of whom play third base, have necessitated this expanded role for Baty, who came up as a third baseman and performed better defensively this season despite struggling at the plate.

 

Mets' Jeff McNeil 'victim of extraordinary amount of bad luck'

 

McNeil, who has a four-year $50 million contract until 2026, is batting.227/.296/.320 with three home runs and 14 RBI. It would have been called a cold spell if not for McNeil’s 98 OPS+ from previous year, when he hit.270 with a.711 OPS. Baty may never become a full-time second baseman, but the concept of it suggests a team dissatisfied with its second base productivity.

Over the last three games, veteran infielder José Iglesias, a right-handed hitter, has started at second base ahead of McNeil against three left-handed starts. Iglesias has seven hits in 19 plate appearances and has provided the Mets a boost of energy since his call-up on May 31, the second win in a 5-2 stretch.

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