Francisco Lindor was the best rookie in the American League this season, and on a per-game basis, he was the best rookie in all of MLB. Heck, on a per-game basis he was one of the dozen or so best players in baseball, rookie or not. Lindor wasn't up until June though, and we have no way of knowing if his season would have turned out the same way without those ten weeks in Triple-A. What we do know is that after the All-Star break Lindor was among the absolute best players in baseball.
Lindor hit .345/.386/.544 during the second half, good for a wRC+ of 154. He also played great defense at shortstop, which is awfully valuable. FanGraphs has him at 4.5 WAR during the second half, behind only Joey Votto (5.1 WAR) and Josh Donaldson (4.6) among all position players. Throw in pitchers Jake Arrieta and Clayton Kershaw, and that's the top five in my book.
When was the last time the Indians had a player post such an excellent second half, and where does Lindor rank among Tribe second halves from the last 40+ years? FanGraphs has first-half/second-half splits data that includes WAR dating back to 1974, so this list goes back to then.
Top Indians second-half fWAR figures (1974-2015):
- 1) Albert Belle (1995): 4.8
- 2) Francisco Lindor (2015): 4.5
- 3) Jim Thome (2002): 4.3
- 4) Corey Kluber (2014): 4.1
- 5) Victor Martinez (2005): 4.0
- t6) Len Barker (1980): 3.8
- t6) Grady Sizemore (2006): 3.8
- 8) Kenny Lofton (1992): 3.7
- t9) Dennis Eckersley (1976): 3.6
- t9) Jim Thome (1996): 3.6
- t9) Manny Ramirez (1999): 3.6
- t12) Wayne Garland (1977): 3.5
- t12) Mike Hargrove (1979): 3.5
- t12) Bert Blyleven (1984): 3.5
- t12) Brook Jacoby (1987): 3.5
- t12) Manny Ramirez (2000): 3.5
Francisco Lindor is something special, already a superstar at the age of 21. The last time an Indians player was more valuable after the All-Star break than Lindor was this year, was twenty years ago, when Albert Belle put up offensive numbers that looked like someone left their Sega Genesis on easy mode while playing World Series Baseball.