Fred Roggin is a legend in Southern California, having spent the last 40 years talking sports on television and the radio. Currently, among other things, he co-hosts the Roggin and Rodney show with former USC football star Rodney Peete on AM 570.
On Thursday, Roggin took to Instagram to summarize a discussion he and Peete had had on their show about Freddie Freeman falling one point short of the batting title after Jeff McNeil and the Mets chose to sit on his two-point lead rather than play the final game of the season.
“Freddie Freeman went 3-for-4 yesterday and finished second for the National League batting title. An incredible year for Freeman.
“Why did he finish second? Because the man ahead of him, Jeff McNeil, did not play for the Mets. If McNeil had gone 1-for-3 or 1-for-4, Freddie Freeman would have won the title. I thought it was a gutless move by McNeil not to play. Rodney, on the other hand, countered with, ‘Perhaps he had incentives in his deal. Perhaps he’s a looming free agent and winning a batting title will mean he’ll make more money on the open market.’
“But from my perspective, I thought it was gutless. If you wanna win the title, you gotta play, and if you’re the best and you’ve played, then you deserve it. Freddie Freeman had the guts to play.”
To be clear, McNeil does not have any bonuses or escalators built into his contract for winning the batting title — such incentives are actually not allowed by the MLB rules. He’ll be eligible for salary arbitration for the second time this offseason, and while it’s theoretically possible he might make a little extra money for having won the batting title, it’s not likely. When he hits the open market after the 2024 season, his career stats (and the fact that he’ll be almost 33 years old) will play a lot more heavily than him having finished one point ahead of Freeman in the 2022 batting race.
To be fair to McNeil and the Mets, though, New York is heading into the Wild Card round against the Padres, and once the Braves had already clinched the NL East, the Mets were well within their rights to rest whoever they felt necessary, knowing they only had one day off before starting the postseason. If one of those people they wanted to rest was the guy nursing a small lead in the batting race, all the better.
Sure, you’d love McNeil to be like Ted Williams, who in 1941 famously refused to sit out the final day of the season sitting on a .400 batting average, instead choosing to play and going 6-for-8 in a doubleheader to finish the season at .406. But Jeff McNeil was never going to be confused with Ted Williams whether he played on Wednesday or not.
In the end, Freeman would probably tell you he should have just not gone 0-for-12 in the three games leading up to the season finale. If he’d gone 1-for-12 instead, he would have won the batting title and reached 200 hits for the first time in his career.
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