After spending his 2019 campaign at multiple positions, Jeff McNeil is ready to take over at the hot corner for the New York Mets in 2020.
Following the departure of Todd Frazier, the New York Mets were in need of a new third baseman for the 2020 season. Luckily, New York already had a player within their organization capable of moving over to third base.
Heading into this season, Jeff McNeil is expected to move back into the infield and become the everyday third baseman for the Mets.
In an interview with Mark DeRosa of MLB Network, the 27-year-old detailed what he’s been working on at third base this spring to help him prepare for the upcoming season.
— MLB Network (@MLBNetwork) February 24, 2020
In speaking with the former 16-year-pro, McNeil spoke about his limited exposure on the left side of the infield throughout his major-league career.
During his two seasons in the majors, the versatile infielder has spent a combined 170.1 innings at third base and has committed a total of two errors. In addition, the right-handed fielder also produced a +2 OAA, +3 DRS, 2.4 UZR and a 19.4 UZR/150 over his 154.1 innings at third base last season.
McNeil also mentioned what aspect of playing at third base he’s been attempting to improve at the most this spring and how changing positions will affect the way he delivers the baseball to first base.
“Definitely the throw, second base, you can kind of let your arm angle drop a little bit,” McNeil explained. “At third, you have to get on top a little more, trying to get that backspin.”
Lastly, McNeil expressed his desire to improve his range at third base this spring. Specifically, the Mets’ third baseman wants to work on his movements when fielding ground balls on his backhand throughout spring training.
“One I’m going to be working on is that backhand,” McNeil said. “Getting around it, making sure I get my legs under me and make a good strong throw to Pete [Alonso].”
Along with his fielding, the Mets are hoping McNeil will be able to replicate his offensive success from the 2019 campaign. Last season, he produced 23 home runs, 75 RBIs, .214 ISO, .337 BABIP, .384 wOBA, 143 wRC+, a 4.6 fWAR rating and a slashing line of .318/.384/.531/.916 over his 567 plate appearances.
With the Mets looking to return to the postseason in 2020, another outstanding performance from McNeil could help them accomplish that feat this season.