Neyer spent the early years of his childhood in the upper Midwest and later moved to the middle Midwest, close to the Kansas City area. He attended the University of Kansas, where he picked up a passion for baseball after reading Peter Golenbock's Bums: An Oral History of the Brooklyn Dodgers and the Bill James Baseball Abstract 1984. He is currently married and living in Portland, Oregon. Uninterested in school, Neyer left college during his fourth year and took a job roofing houses.
Neyer was introduced to Bill James by a casual friend, Mike Kopf, nine months after dropping out of college. He was soon hired as a research assistant. Neyer's first project with James was helping compile material for the book This Time Let's Not Eat the Bones, a collection of material from the Abstracts. After four years under the tutelage of James, Neyer took a job at STATS, Inc., before joining ESPNet SportsZone, ESPN.com's forerunner, in 1996.
Until 2004, Neyer's work was available without subscription, but it is now part of the Insider service and can thus only be read with a paid subscription. Since 2007, the bulk of Neyer's ESPN work has shifted to his daily blog.
Neyer is the author of Feeding the Green Monster, Rob Neyer's Big Book of Baseball Lineups, Baseball Dynasties (co-authored with Eddie Epstein), The Neyer/James Guide to Pitchers (co-authored with Bill James), Rob Neyer's Big Book of Baseball Blunders, and Rob Neyer's Big Book of Baseball Legends.
Neyer's statistical analysis often finds him at odds with many, though not all, ESPN writers, who prefer more "traditional" types of baseball writing and generally eschew newer statistics such as OPS+, VORP, and WARP.
In February 2001, Neyer infuriated many Yankees fans when he used many objective statistical measures, such as win shares and Clay Davenport's Fielding Translations to show that Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter consistently rated among the worst fielders at his position. He is regularly cited in the "Keeping Score" column in the New York Times and elsewhere. Bill James describes him as "the best of the new generation of sportswriters. He knows baseball history like a child knows his piggy bank. He knows how to pick it up and shake it and make what he needs fall out."
On March 6, 2007 Neyer set the record for longest ESPN.com chat at 6 hours and 37 minutes. His ESPN.com chat record was broken when Bill Simmons chatted for 7 hours and 4 minutes on November 28, 2007. He was able to regain the record from Simmons with a 12 hour and 1 minute chat on Opening Day of the 2008 baseball season, March 31, 2008. In his closing remark, he quoted Ring Lardner, "The race is not always to the swift nor the battle to the strong -- but that's the way to bet."
In December 2007, Neyer was declined admission to the Baseball Writers Association of America, members of which vote for Baseball Hall of Fame candidates and several annual awards including the Most Valuable Player and Cy Young Award. While 16 other internet baseball columnists were admitted in their first year of eligibility, ESPN's Neyer and Keith Law were refused due to the BBWAA's perception that Law and Neyer did not attend enough games in person.