1/29/19

Tom Brennan - BRYCE HARPER OR JEFF MCNEIL?

15 comments

Tom Brennan - BRYCE HARPER OR JEFF MCNEIL?

OMG! Another Brennan article on Jeff McNeil.  Stick with me here and expand your consciousness a bit, non-pharmacologically, OK?  Deep breath now.  OK, let's go!

Imagine if you asked this simple question at this time last year, "Given what you would have to pay for either of them, who would you rather have in your outfield, Bryce Harper or Jeff McNeil?"  

The lads in the white coats from Bellevue with the strait jackets would have come for you, for even asking the question.   CUCKOO.  CUCKOO.  CUCKOO.

A year later, not so cuckoo, it seems.  

Because, up to now, the Mets have not pursued Bryce Harper, in whole or in part, because of the previously unheralded, high-performing-in-2018 Jeff McNeil.

Bryce Harper is of course a major gate attraction who will likely be paid over $30 million per annum for many years.  

Gate drawing power increases revenues, and would help pay part of his huge multi-year salary bill.

Some of those years likely will be in his mid 30s.  

Ask Ken Griffey Jr. how that goes.  Griffey was "all time great" up to age 30, "downright mediocre" in his 30s.  



Jeff McNeil is not likely to ever be a gate attraction, no matter how good he turns out to be, as he comes across with no swagger, and as a quiet scrambler type (see picture), but he will be paid a relative pittance for the next 3-5 years.  

Perhaps just 2% of what Harper will be paid over the next 4 seasons.  Far less financially risky.

So, Harper would ring the turnstiles more than McNeil would, at least short term.  And Harper has more of a track record than McNeil.  But Harper's salary will be geometrically larger than McNeil's.  

But how do these guys project out in terms of 2019 splits?

I looked at Baseball Reference player pages and saw this for 2019:


Bryce Harper: .265/.385/.491

Jeff McNeil: .289/.350/.443

So, Harper would be paid 60 times more than Jeff in 2019 and 2020, considering just the first 2 years, yet put up pretty comparable numbers.

Now, keep in mind that Citifield seems to be statistically ranked as the worst hitting field in all of major league baseball - so, while I would presume Baseball Ref's McNeil numbers presume  he will be playing in Citifield, Harper's do not.

So, one could anticipate that if Harper's #'s were re-run by B Ref assuming he would play half his games at Citifield, his splits might not even be as good as McNeil's projected splits.

Why?  Let's say new Met Bryce Harper gets 275 ABs in Citifield and the dimensions cost him 5 doubles and 5 homers.

That does not sound like a lot - but over a full season, including home and away, that would cause his average to drop 20 points, and his slugging % would drop about 35 points.  Thus: 


Harper's #'s might be more like .245/.350/.470.  

Compare those to McNeil's .289/.350/.443.  

A statistical dead heat.

My guess?  Brodie VW and the Wilpons know that, and are loathe to spend huge dollars for Harper for that reason.

I also think that when an owner like Jeff Wilpon has been burned so many times, first with Bernie Madoff and then with bad big-big-big bucks deals like Martinez, Santana, Wright, Cespedes, etc. that have gone way, way south, you get understandably skittish about the next mega deal,.

You understandably think more about what could go wrong and less on what could go right.

So I can understand why the Wilpons would want Jeff McNeil in the outfield.  And not Bryce Harper.


What, of course, do you think?

Before I go, just for fun, let's look at other key 2019 Mets' projected 2019 splits, courtesy again of Baseball Reference:

Brandon Nimmo: .262/.380/.447 - not bad, think he will do better.

Michael Conforto: .250/.349/.461 - I think he'll do somewhat better.

Robbie Cano: .275/.334/.456 - feels about right.

Amed Rosario: .258/.303/.397 - hardly more than his 2018 splits, so I think he'll do somewhat better.

Todd Frazier: "Mr .213 for 2017 and 2018" is at .216/.312/.416.  I guess B Ref thinks he'll sneak one more slow grounder thru the infield and not hit .213 three years in a row.


So there you have it.  Have a great day.



15 comments:

Reese Kaplan said...

I notice RBIs were conspicuously missing from the McNeil /Harper debate :)

Tom Brennan said...

Hard to compare RBIs, which are very dependent on place in batting order.

McNeil had 91 total RBIs last year (majors and minors) despite having almost all of his major league at bats in the # 2 slot in the batting order.

Bat him clean up all year, get him in 150 games, I see no reason he couldn't knock in 75-100 runs.

bgreg98180 said...

Sorry,
Harper over McNeil every day of the week and twice on Sundays

Mack Ade said...

Tom -

I love McNeil but I can not choose him ahead of Harper.

Tom Brennan said...

Bob and Mack, I agree, actually, but there is a roughly $30 million difference. More $$ to spend.

Could some of the $$ be better spent to add a premier pitcher or two? I think so.

Citifield hurts Mets sluggers - like Harper. McNeil adjusts and plays to the park. I'd prefer to keep McNeil and add more pitching - and, hey, I love offense, as you know, so it is not an easy decision for me.

Tom Brennan said...

Pitching with Wilson added is now very good - but injuries could change that. Could you picture the Mets adding a very good starter and reliever with the Harper $$?? Best staff in baseball, then?

bgreg98180 said...

Just like most things, top tier things can not be looked at without understanding more there is additional value cost.

Similar to comparing time needed to charge the first 10% of your smart phone compared to the last percentage points to reach 100%

Mike Freire said...

Talent and potential alone, I would take Harper (but not as easily as you would think). However, as you mentioned Tom, when you factor in the COSTS that both players would command, McNeil seems like a better value (and we already have him in house).

I don't know, there is something about Harper I just don't like.

He is uber-cocky ("where's my ring" a few years ago) for someone who hasn't accomplished that much, outside of his one monster season. The Nats were pretty good during his tenure, but he typically came up small when things really mattered, as much as his team did.

For 35 million dollars per year, I would pass......now, if Mike Trout were in the conversation, I would reconsider.

Jeff said...


As long as Harper brings all of his WS Rings that he has accumulated with the Nats.

Mack Ade said...

That is a different Jeff commenting here.

Tom Brennan said...

Harper's beard rocks, though, don't it?

Serious point to consider - Harper has hit .211 in 19 post season games. Would a hitter like McNeil hit better in the post season? McNeil predecessor Daniel Murph sure did.

Viper said...

After the year Harper had, I wouldn't give him over 30+ over 10 years. No way Jose.

bgreg98180 said...

How about taking him in 2017 after Harper had a .243 avg in 2016??

He went on to have a .319 in 2017.

Even last year with his .249 avg, Harper hit 34 hrs, with 100 rbis, and 103 runs.

I dont understand any Met supporter resisting a Harper acquisition, especially considering Harper's age and the poor outfield situation in the AAA & AA levels of the Met organization

Mike Freire said...

I hear you, Bob......it's the 35 million dollars AAV. I don't think he is worth the cash....a lesson reinforced by the current Cespedes deal, IMO.

bgreg98180 said...

Big difference, Cespedes signed his contract at, what was it, 30 yrs old?

Harper would sign at 26 yrs old? And it looks like it will be one of the new dangle Boras contracts with the player and team options to limit each sides risks

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