There’s no doubt in Jeff McNeil’s batting title quest

PORT ST. LUCIE — Jeff McNeil knew that Jose Reyes was the last Met to win a batting title, knew that it was in 2011. “Great to have another one,” McNeil said.

Inside the Mets clubhouse, McNeil is the Chosen One to get one.

“I think he’s fully more than capable. He’s Jeff McHits,” Pete Alonso told The Post. “I would not be surprised if he were to win a batting title one day. He’s extremely dynamic at the plate. He’s probably just as tough of an out as they come. He very well could. I hope he does. I hope he wins more than one.”

McNeil (aka Squirrel) finished fourth in the NL last season (.318), with a .916 OPS. He resists the notion that it has whet his appetite to win a batting title, but he’ll never stop believing that he can, now that he has proven he belongs.

“It was always kind of a goal of mine in the minor leagues. I always wanted to be the best hitter,” McNeil said. “I like to see my name at the top in average.”

McNeil is what Aaron Boone would call a Savage in the Box. He is a blue-collar throwback with the true grit of a Lenny Dykstra or Wally Backman.

“I think his competitiveness as a player, as a person, I think that’s gonna get him over the hump,” Dominic Smith told The Post. “He’s a perfectionist. He’ll go 3-for-4, and on his fourth at-bat not get a hit, and he’ll be upset.

“He’ll eventually win a batting title because his hand-eye coordination, bat-to-ball skills are off the charts, and he finds holes. If you come inside, he’ll pull you, if you go away, he’ll slap it that way. He’s very hard to defend, he can lay down bunts, he’s pretty fast, so it makes it tough on a defense.”

Plain and simple, McNeil was born to hit baseballs.

“He’s dynamic,” Alonso said. “He has great plate discipline, but also blended with that plate discipline, he’s not too patient. If you throw him something over the middle of the plate, he’ll whack it for a hit … dude just gets on base. Constantly. He’s a sparkplug type of guy. He’s maybe not the most flashy guy, but that dude brings it every single day. I love him, because he’s all about substance and performing.”

Alonso began playing alongside McNeil in 2017.

“I’ve never seen that kid not succeed,” Alonso said.

“He just has this chip on his shoulder. He’s just a Grade A competitor … he has a very strong will, and he’s just a great teammate to be around. I’d rather have him on our side than the other side. There’s very few people that just compete and get after it like he does. It’s amazing to watch.”

There is no other place McNeil would rather be than on the New York stage, no other place he would rather be than standing fearlessly and defiantly 60 feet, 6 inches from the pitcher. Any pitcher.

“I consider myself a tough out,” McNeil said. “I have that mindset I’m gonna do everything I can to get on base. Get two strikes, I’m gonna battle. It’s kind of a mentality thing.”

McNeil doubled twice in three at bats against the Cardinals Wednesday. It made him 10-for-18 this spring.

“He’s one of those guys who is not gonna try and hit a bunch of home runs. It’ll happen for sure, but he’s OK with just putting the ball in play, beating that shift, and in today’s game, yeah, I think that could equate to a batting title,” Brandon Nimmo told The Post.

McNeil walked 35 times in 510 at-bats in 2019. In his world view, a walk is not as good as a hit. He struck out 75 times.

“He’s very competitive, we all know that,” Nimmo said. “He does not want to let that pitcher beat him. And then, it’s just his eye-hand coordination with that bat. He’s figured out a formula that works for him on putting the ball in play hard a lot… and being able to spray the ball all over the field. If you can do that, you can have a high average.”

McNeil raked at a .349 clip on his way to his first All-Star Game before tailing off to .276 over the second half, when he hammered 16 of his 23 homers.

“Just kinda the way it was,” McNeil said. “Hit for a lot more power, so I was doing nothing different, nothing changed.”

Nothing needs to change for him. See ball, hit ball works just fine. He can concentrate on third base now that he is no longer a utility man. He is entering his prime, one month shy of his 28th birthday.

“I consider myself a tough out,” McNeil said. “I have that mindset I’m gonna do everything I can to get on base. Get two strikes, I’m gonna battle. It’s kind of a mentality thing.”

McNeil isn’t worried about combating the shift.

“If they shift me, I’ll poke it the other way,” he said. “I’ll take my chances beating the shift every now and then, but if they shift me, I’ll take a base bit to left.”

Christian Yelich (.329) won the 2019 NL batting title. Anthony Rendon, who finished third behind Ketel Marte, is now an Angel.

“One less guy you gotta beat, yeah,” McNeil said, and smiled. “But just go out there and do my own game, and see where the numbers fall.”

Don’t bet against him.

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