MIAMI – At the batters' meeting before the game, Jeff McNeil told his teammates he was going to put them ahead, 1-0 on Sunday against the Marlins.
Mickey Callaway told McNeil: "I want to see a turn at the bat of 11 pitches of yours and then hit a home run."
McNeil replied with a smile, saying, "I'll do it on the first pitch."
All-Star Sandy Alcantara was on the mound and McNeil hit the first-pitch homer when the Mets took that 1-0 lead and made it a 6-2 victory over the sullen Marlins on Sunday at Marlins Park and his first victory in the road series. In 102 days.
That was also against the Marlins.
Many things have happened since then, most of them bad, at 42-51 Mets.
Something good has also happened. McNeil leads all baseball with a .349 average and shows no signs of quitting.
"It's fascinating once you know him, as a human being and as a hitter," Todd Frazier told The Post about McNeil after the Mets finally left the city with winning smiles. "It reminds me of a guy like Juan Pierre, he puts the bat on the ball, not so fast, but he's a table preparer." He fights his butt. "
A scout in the game also made a comparison of left-handers from McNeil and prepares for this one: "He has a bit of George Brett in him," said the scout. "He does not have Brett's power, but the way he leans back and hunches over his back, the way he can put the barrel in the ball, is a bit like Brett."
McNeil does not lack confidence and when I mentioned what the scout said, he smiled and said of Brett's comparison: "I can see that."
Frazier said: "That's good, their positions are the same."
McNeil has also been compared to Ichiro, the way he can hit the ball where he throws. That is a pretty elite company.
The homer was the second home run of McNeil's career. He also hit one against the Yankees on July 3. On this day, the right fielder also eliminated Curtis Granderson on the plate to finish the second inning.
Despite all the courage of McNeil, he can be tough on himself and that's something that veteran Frazier is trying to make McNeil understand and enlighten a bit as his career progresses.
"It's good to be hard on yourself," Frazier said, "just do not make it harmful to your approach.
"He takes every turn at bat seriously, which is somehow good. He got the homer, but he was still frustrated by the other at-bats. I told him once: "You understand that you are going to receive your blows no matter what, and once you understand you can take your 1-of-4 days and know that tomorrow is a new day". And when you do it and [go] 0-for-4, do not take it so seriously and you understand how good you are as a hitter, "he will be much better.
"I tell you: You're the best baseball hitter right now if we're considering the batting average," Frazier said. "I'm not saying you're better than [Mike] Trout, but batting average, you're the best hitter in baseball. Pinch yourself. That's amazing. & # 39;
"He says:" I have to do better. "" You should see him after the game when he's sitting in his locker and I know he's thinking. "All that's fine, but I'll tell him:" You have two hits today. , get up and take a shower, what you're doing right now, we'll take it every day of the week, we know you're going to get to the base. "
"The sky is the limit for him because he can put the ball where he wants".
With McNeil in the starting match, Michael Conforto batting second, Pete Alonso third and Dom Smith fourth, followed by Robinson Cano, who hit a home run for the second day in a row, the offense is recovering a bit.
It's been a terrible year for the Mets, but Jeff McNeil is reaching gold.