PORT ST. LUCIE — Jeff McNeil has hit everywhere, at every level and in every season — until 2021 left him confused.
“Something wasn’t right,” McNeil acknowledged Monday. “It’s just finding whatever that was.”
The Mets’ second baseman regressed after posting a combined .319 average in his first three major league seasons, tumbling to a .251 campaign with just seven home runs in 120 games.
There were signs McNeil’s breakthrough could be coming — his average exit velocity was actually the second highest of his career — but it never arrived. He kept tweaking his approach and adjusting his hand placement, which he now thinks may have hurt more than it helped.
It is possible a few different hitting voices — coach Chili Davis was fired last May — did not help, either. A season later with a batting coach, Eric Chavez, with whom he is “on the same page” has McNeil hoping for better and more consistent results.
Over the offseason, McNeil looked back at video clips of his at-bats in 2018, when he shot through the Mets’ system and then posted an .852 OPS in 63 major league games.
“I think in ’18 I had the same swing the whole year. You can go back and watch video from Opening Day in the minors to the last day in the big leagues, and for the most part it’s pretty damn close,” McNeil told The Post. “I think this year, it’s just if you have a bad game, don’t change anything.”
If analytics do hint at a bigger problem than bad luck with McNeil’s swing last season, it would arise from his ground-ball rate — a career-worst 46.6 percent.
“Grounders are outs in the big leagues, especially with the shift,” said McNeil, whose pull-heavy game has made him a frequent victim of shifting. “I know when I’m going well, I fly out to right — that’s a good sign. That means my bat path is good, you just barely missed it.”
Manager Buck Showalter said he can tell that McNeil is “in a good place.”
After a season that featured little hitting and an altercation with Francisco Lindor before an offseason of trade rumors, the Mets are hopeful he is ready to bounce back.
“You can tell he’s planning on going the other direction,” Showalter said. “He could mean a lot to us.”
After a few rounds of cuts, the Mets’ major league camp is down to 40 players.
Catcher Francisco Alvarez, the team’s top prospect, headlined the list of prospects shuttled out. The 20-year-old went 1-for-4 with a home run in Grapefruit League play.
Also reassigned were catcher Nick Meyer, infielders Brett Baty and Matt Reynolds, outfielders Jake Mangum and Carlos Cortes, righties José Rodríguez and Antonio Santos and lefties Rob Zastryzny and Josh Walker.
Additionally, righty Yennsy Diaz was optioned to Triple-A Syracuse.
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