‘Flying Squirrel’ McNeil has Mets aloft in NL East

Mets' McNeil rediscovers stroke in 2022

Jeff McNeil

In sports, there is the term “regression to the mean” and it applies to teams or players that overperform one season and are expected to come back to earth the next. So it would follow then, that underperforming squads or players should enjoy a progression to their mean.

No one has exemplified that more this season than the New York Mets and their second baseman Jeff McNeil. Coming off a forgettable 2021 campaign, both the player and the team are playing to their talent level this year and the result is a wide lead in the NL East through the season’s first two months.

As of late May, the man nicknamed “The Flying Squirrel” was hitting .319 with three home runs, 26 RBIs, a .374 on-base percentage and an OPS of .871. He attributes much of his success in 2022 to just trying to put the barrel of the bat on the ball and not swinging for the fences. He’s also been proficient at “hitting ’em where they ain’t” or aiming his hits at the holes created when an opposing team puts a shift on him.

He was the subject of trade rumors this past winter coming off his worst season in the bigs, when he hit .249 with seven homers, 35 RBIs, a .317 on-base percentage and an OPS of .671 in 120 games. Not surprisingly, a lot of teams were interested, figuring they could buy low on a player due to progress to his mean, which in this case is a .301 career batting average, .365 on-base percentage and .824 OPS. Luckily, the Mets smartened up.

McNeil and the Mets can be seen in action Monday, June 20, when they conclude a four-game home series against the Miami Marlins in a game airing on MLB Network.

Player Profile

Name: Jeff McNeil

Birth date: April 8, 1992

Birthplace: Santa Barbara, Calif.

Height/weight: 6 feet 1 inch/195 pounds

Teams: New York Mets (2018-present)

Position: Second base/third base/outfield

Bats/throws: Left/right

No.: 1

Honors and achievements: MLB All-Star Game (2019)

Nickname: Flying Squirrel

George Dickie

George Dickie has been a features writer for Gracenote/Tribune Media Services since 1989, when “Hee-Haw” was still on the air and George “Goober” Lindsay was his first interview. His early interviews ranged from Jim Henson and Dick Van Dyke to Phil Collins and the Dixie Chicks.

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