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Odds to Lead MLB in Batting Average: Jeff McNeil Favored After All-Star Break, Bellinger Given 2-1 Odds

Jeff McNeil hands on head
Bovada is listing Jeff McNeil of the New York Mets as the +160 favorite to lead MLB in batting average. Photo by slgckgc (Flickr) [CC License]
  • Bovada lists Jeff McNeil of the New York Mets as the +160 favorite to be the MLB batting average leader in 2019
  • Htting .349, McNeil is currently 13 points ahead of his nearest competitor
  • Milwaukee’s Christian Yelich, who led the NL in batting average last season, is listed at +800

Will 13 prove to be Jeff McNeil’s lucky number? That’s the lead the New York Mets infielder/outfielder took into the All-Star break.

McNeil leads all of MLB with a .349 batting average. Cody Bellinger of the Los Angeles Dodgers and DJ LeMahieu of the New York Yankees are his closest competitors. Each is htting at a .336 clip.

2019 MLB Batting Average Leader Odds

Player Odds at Bovada
Jeff McNeil (Mets) +160
Cody Bellinger (Dodgers) +200
DJ LeMahieu (Yankees) +300
Christian Yelich (Brewers) +800
Charlie Blackmon (Rockies) +900
Michael Brantley (Astros) +1600
Rafael Devers (Red Sox) +1600
Tim Anderson (White Sox) +2500
Jorge Polanco (Twins) +3500
Nolan Arenado (Rockies) +3500
Ketel Marte (Diamondbacks) +5500

*Odds taken 07/10/19.

No Mets player has ever led MLB in batting average. Jose Reyes of the Mets led the National League with a .337 average in 2011. But Miguel Cabrera of the Detroit Tigers topped MLB, hitting .344.

Making a Case for McNeil

To say that McNeil is still struggling to make a name for himself is an understatment. As he stepped on for his only plate appearance in Tuesday’s MLB All-Star Game, the giant scoreboard at Cleveland’s Progressive Field displayed a head shot of Mets’ Cy Young Award-winning pitcher Jacob deGrom.

Baseball people were also slow to come around to McNeil’s attributes. In this era of analytics obsession, McNeil is a throwback of sorts, a contact hitter who sprays line drives around the ballpark but doesn’t display excessive power. He’s slashing it at .409/.509 with seven home runs and 23 doubles.

The Mets also seem to be slow to find a home for McNeil. A natural second baseman, McNeil’s played 22 games there this season. He’s also played third base (15), left field (45) and right field (14).

Going to Bat for Bellinger

They’re just waiting to inscribe the name of Los Angeles Dodgers star Cody Bellinger on the NL MVP trophy at the end of the season. He currently is stationed second overall in the Major Leagues in batting average (.336), home runs (30) and RBIs (71).

Could Bellinger pull of the Triple Crown? The last NL player to do so was Joe “Ducky” Medwick of the St. Louis Cardinals in 1937.

Playoffs? Should We Be Talking About Playoffs?

Here’s an interesting tidbit regarding MLB batting average leaders. In each of the last two seasons, the guy who finished on top – Mookie Betts of the Boston Red Sox (2018) and Jose Altuve of the Houston Astros (2017) – not only suited up for a club that made the postseason, they were in the lineup of the team that won the World Series.

Seven of the last 10 MLB batting champions participated in the playoffs. LeMahieu, with Colorado in 2016, was the last non-playoff performer to be MLB batting average champ.

It’s McNeil’s to Win

Some scouts compare McNeil’s hitting style to Hall of Famer and five-time American League batting champion Wade Boggs. Boggs finished with 3,000 hits and along with Tony Gwynn, are the only MLB players since 1931 to post four straight seasons hitting .350.

Consistency is McNeil’s forte. Slumps aren’t part of his DNA. He’s never gone more than two games without a hit this season. McNeil has fashioned hitting streaks of five (twice), six (twice) and eight games.

He’s enjoyed 34 multi-hit games. That includes five three-hit games and four four-hit games.

This guy gets out of bed hitting line drives. The MLB batting average title is his for the taking.

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