Both DJ LeMahieu and Jeff McNeil have been key contributors for their teams this season, but who’s the better hitter?
Both LeMahieu and McNeil are on pace to record career-highs in almost every category this season. But, because this conversation involves the Yankees and Mets, of course, we have to debate who’s the better hitter.
When it comes to which player has hit for more power this season, the edge has to go to LeMahieu. The 30-year-old is slugging surprisingly better as a Yankee than he ever did with the Colorado Rockies.
In LeMahieu’s 76 games this season, he’s hit 12 home runs, 19 doubles, 61 RBIs, .534 SLG, and .925 OPS. McNeil has been unable to match the power surge that LeMahieu has produced so far this season.
The 12th round selection by the Mets during the 2013 draft has hit just six home runs and driven in 32 runs in his 70 games played. McNeil is also significantly behind LeMahieu when it comes to slugging percentage and ISO.
McNeil is currently slugging .509 and hitting an average .161 ISO. However, the 27-year-old has been a better run creator than LeMahieu this season. While today’s game has been mostly focused on home runs, McNeil has been creating runs without always hitting the ball over the wall.
The California-native has been able to get on base and create runs more effectively than LeMahieu this season. McNeil is currently hitting with a .412 OBP, .922 OPS, .387 BABIP, 148 OPS+ and 149 wRC+. These numbers all display that it doesn’t just take home runs to be a valuable hitter.
LeMahieu is currently hitting with a .392 OBP, .925 OPS, .375 BABIP, 142 OPS+ and 145 wRC+. While these numbers have been impressive for LeMahieu, McNeil has slightly been the more productive hitter at getting on base and creating runs.
The similarities between these two hitters can largely be seen when it comes to their respective strikeout and walk rates. LeMahieu has recorded a 7.0% walk rate and a 14.0% strikeout rate during his 76 games played.
For McNeil, he’s recorded a 6.1% walk rate and a 12.2% strikeout rate in his 71 games played. These rates for both LeMahieu and McNeil definitely doesn’t determine who’s the better hitter. But, it does show how similar they are with their plate discipline.
However, this debate will be decided with how each player has performed in the clutch. So far this season, that edge definitely goes to LeMahieu.
From @EliasSports: Over his last 10 games, DJ LeMahieu is batting .537 (22 for 41) with 16 runs scored and 18 RBIs. LeMahieu is the first Yankees player since Mickey Mantle in May 1955 to have at least a .500 batting average, 15 runs and 15 RBIs over a 10-game span.
— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) June 30, 2019
What LeMahieu has done with RISP this season is something that we’ve haven’t seen for decades. LeMahieu is currently hitting a league-leading .493 AVG and an OPS north of 1.200 along with four home runs and an eye-popping 47 RBIs with RISP this season.
Not too mention, LeMahieu has also been extremely clutch with two outs and RISP this season as well. Entering Sunday, LeMahieu was hitting a whopping .455 AVG and 1.273 OPS with four home runs and 31 RBIs. Yes, you’re reading that correctly, all four of LeMahieu’s home runs with RISP have come with two outs.
McNeil has been effective with RISP this season. He’s currently posting a .400 AVG with an OPS slightly over 1.100 to along with one home run and 28 RBIs. However, LeMahieu has just been significantly better than anyone else in the league when it comes to hitting with RISP this season.
This is also just McNeil’s first full season at the major-league level. So while he’s already 27-years-old, he still has plenty of time to translate his doubles power into home run power.
So after comparing LeMahieu’s and McNeil’s numbers this season, LeMahieu is slightly the better hitter because of his impact with RISP. While McNeil has been one of the best hitters on the Mets roster this season, his hitting during the first half of the season just doesn’t measure up next to LeMahieu’s body of work.