- 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.
jeff mcneil is not jacob degrom lmao pic.twitter.com/1oDX3ztU1y
— Joon Lee (@joonlee) July 10, 2019
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.
Most hits in Major League history through 500 career at-bats:
Wade Boggs 178
Joe DiMaggio 171
Jeff McNeil 170
— Michael Mayer (@mikemayerMMO) July 4, 2019
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).
That's the tweet. pic.twitter.com/8czErs5IEg
— MLB (@MLB) July 4, 2019
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.
Give it up for your American League Player of the Month, DJ LeMahieu! ? pic.twitter.com/smOcX8lCPf
— YES Network (@YESNetwork) July 3, 2019
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.
Freddie Freeman on All-Star teammate Jeff McNeil:
"I don't like when he walks into that box…he just hits and hits and hits" pic.twitter.com/AuuAfvwLW8
— SNY (@SNYtv) July 9, 2019
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.
Let's have fun and keep it civil.