The Mets gave their fans plenty to cheer for in the regular season finale at Citi Field on Wednesday night, routing the Washington Nationals 9-2 to complete the sweep and reach 101 wins.
But the most important player of the day didn’t even get an at-bat. Jeff McNeil won the National League batting title with a league-leading average of .326. He became the first player from the Mets to lead the majors in batting average and the second to win the batting title. Jose Reyes was the last to win it for the Amazins’ in 2011.
While the Mets and Nats were delayed for rain, Freddie Freeman attempted to surpass McNeil in the Los Angeles Dodgers finale against the Colorado Rockies. He nearly did it, going 3-for-4, but that one out he made was just enough to fall short. Shortly after Freeman’s final at-bat, McNeil’s teammates began hugging him in the dugout.
Later in the game, the Mets announced the award on the scoreboard and McNeil came out of the dugout to salute the fans.
McNeil hit .378 from July 30 on to surpass Freeman and Paul Goldschmidt of the St. Louis Cardinals. Goldschmidt led the league at the time with a .334 average, Freeman was .319 and McNeil was hitting only .287. His .326 average is sixth on the Mets’ single-season list all-time and it’s the highest season-ending average since Reyes ended it with an NL-best .337.
The former Long Beach State Dirtbag who grew up on the central coast of California was extremely influential in helping the Mets secure the top NL Wild Card spot. Outside of a few high-scoring games, the team struggled offensively in August and September, but the left-handed hitting McNeil produced no matter where he was in the lineup, adding some stability during a tough stretch.
The Mets finished 101-61 on the year to record the second-best regular-season record in franchise history, second only to 1986 when the club won 108 games (108-54). For those of you having trouble remembering what happened 36 years ago, the 1986 team went on to win the World Series.
Right-hander Mychal Givens was activated during the rain delay and opened for Trevor Williams, who took Jacob deGrom’s spot in the rotation. Williams cruised through six innings, limiting the Nationals (55-107) to just two earned runs on six hits, striking out six and walking none in the win (3-5).
There were a handful of other milestones as well: Francisco Lindor played in game No. 161, rookie catcher Francisco Alvarez got his first game behind the plate (0-for-2 with two walks and two runs), Mark Canha hit a three-run home run and James McCann broke out of his September slump by going 3-for-4 with a three-run home run off of Eric Fedde (6-13).
The Mets will hold a workout at Citi Field on Thursday ahead of this weekend’s Wild Card round against the San Diego Padres.