MLB Projections: The 2020 batting champion could be…

GOODYEAR, ARIZONA - FEBRUARY 23: Tim Anderson #7 of the Chicago White Sox bats against the Cincinnati Reds on February 23, 2020 at Goodyear Ballpark in Goodyear, Arizona. (Photo by Ron Vesely/Getty Images)
GOODYEAR, ARIZONA - FEBRUARY 23: Tim Anderson #7 of the Chicago White Sox bats against the Cincinnati Reds on February 23, 2020 at Goodyear Ballpark in Goodyear, Arizona. (Photo by Ron Vesely/Getty Images) /
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Mets infielder-outfielder Jeff McNeil. (Photo by Bryan Woolston/Getty Images)
Mets infielder-outfielder Jeff McNeil. (Photo by Bryan Woolston/Getty Images) /

MLB Projections: The 2020 batting champion could be…

7. Jeff McNeil, New York Mets

In his first full major league season, Jeff McNeil made a run at the 2019 National League title, eventually finishing fourth at .318.  If you want to look at it that way, his case was further helped by the departure of Anthony Rendon, who finished third, for the American League’s Los Angeles Angels.

That leaves only 2019 champion Yelich and runner-up Ketel Marte ahead of him.

You have to throw McNeil breaking stuff because he lights up everything else. In 2019 he batted .340 against velocity and .341 against offspeed. That’s a blimp-worthy combination.

The rest of his profile requires polishing. His 88.4 mph exit velocity was average at best, and his 27.2 mph sprint speed places him in the 59th percentile, credible but less than compelling.

You can get McNeil to bite out of the zone. He had a 38 percent chase rate in 2019, significantly above the major league average, and he coupled that with a 67 percent chase contact rate, which also classifies as just OK.

Related Story. MLB Projections: Top 10 Second Basemen for the 2020 Season. light

Other teams also view him as defensible by shifting. McNeil faced gimmick defenses in nearly 20 percent of his 2019 plate appearances, a serious drawback to a guy hoping to contend for a batting title.

Despite those drawbacks, you can’t write off McNeil’s 2020 candidacy. After all, despite those issues, the guy hit .318 in 2019. He’ll be 28 in 2020 so it’s reasonable to expect that his best remains ahead of him.