Francisco Lindor's Wild Ride
A less-than-$341 million start increased the pressure immensely, but Lindor's coming around just fine
Image credit: Roberto Carlo
To call Francisco Lindor’s first season in Queens a disappointment would be appropriate. High-water marks aside, neither the New York Mets, their rabid fan base, nor the player himself can be all too pleased with the end product.
Speaking with the team’s media corps this week, Lindor took full responsibility for his shortcomings, alluding to the very real possibility that if he performed better, the Mets could very well be in a more competitive position down the stretch.
“I felt like we had a really good team coming into this year. We have collapsed and I haven’t performed, especially,” he said. “I know if I would have played a little better, we could have won [more games], [and] we would be fighting for first place right now.”
To an extent, he’s right. Though, as we’ve intimated here before, it takes a village to accomplish anything. And this village left entirely too many ducks on the pond and golden opportunities on the table this season to justify their relevance over the last 10 games of the schedule.
Lindor’s shockingly slow start over the first month of the season (.152/.275/.196, 43 wRC+ in 111 PA from April 5 to May 5) gave way to brighter days. But, by then, the wheels of impatience had already been set into motion.
As New York has a way of doing, the fans’ displeasure with Lindor’s stumble out of the gates was broadcast with no static at all (F-Mmmmmm), and, in turn, a narrative was built.
While the denizens were harrumphing over a third of a billion dollars potentially going down the tubes based on 100 or so plate appearances, Lindor began to quietly turn things around.
From May 6 through his Grade 2 oblique strain suffered on July 16 (63 games, 258 PA), the 27-year-old slashed .257/.346/.446 with 10 home runs, 10 doubles, 39 runs scored, 120 wRC+, a 10.9% walk rate, and 18.2% strikeout rate.
That’s more like it. No, really. From 2017 through 2019 — Lindor’s undisputed peak — he hit .278/.342/.514 with 122 wRC+.
And, actually, if you chop that above-referenced sample size down to his final 185 plate appearances before the injury, Lindor hit .269/.357/.475 with 130 wRC+. Unquestionably on par.
This was the level of impact the Mets had envisioned their star acquisition making when they traded for him and locked him into a 10-year contract extension.
Well, the offensive profile, plus his +19 outs above average at shortstop this season, tied for the most OAA accumulated by any position player in baseball (Nicky Lopez, SS, KC).
Upon returning from the injured list on August 24, Lindor scuffled for a bit, going just 4-for-25 with five strikeouts through the end of the month.
Though, as things have a way of doing, the tides turned back. Well, at least for the player himself. The team floundered, but that’s another story altogether.
Over 21 games in September, Lindor is at it again, hitting .269/.370/.551 with six home runs (three against the Yankees on Sept 12), 18 runs scored, a 14.1% walk rate, and 149 wRC+.
Despite the Mets’ lame-duck status as the season winds down, these encouraging instances of guys finding their way heading into the winter have more benefit than we assume they do.
Finish strong. It’s good for the baseball soul.
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