Exactly one month ago today, Cleveland Indians super prospect Francisco Lindor made his major league debut. In a pinch-hit appearance against the Detroit Tigers, Lindor notched one hit in two at-bats. His exciting first game -- and his 2-for-5 follow-up performance against the Chicago Cubs -- shot Indians fans expectations higher than they already were, but how exactly has Lindor performed in the month since?
Offensively, he has not been great, which is not really a surprise. As Jason Phillips pointed out in an earlier article, Lindor’s bat has never been his greatest strength. So far in his short career he’s been below average at the plate. In 111 plate appearances, Lindor has 23 hits, 3 doubles, 2 home runs, and is 1-for-1 on stolen bases. This all amounts to a .223/.257/.311 slash and 58 wRC+. Not mind-blowing numbers by any means, but it's worth pointing out that his BABIP is eventually going to be a lot better than .256.
Meanwhile, as expected, Lindor has made his value playing defense for the Indians.
Quantifying defense with numbers can be a difficult thing after only a month, but what we can squeeze out of Lindor’s stats are impressive. In 221 innings of work at shortstop, Lindor has 46 put outs, 70 assists, and 4 errors. He has been a part of 19 double plays and started 11 of them. As for more advanced defensive metrics, he's amassed a 1.8 UZR and on pace for 18.2 UZR over 150 games. According to Inside Edge ratings (in which scouts rate the likelihood of each defensive playing being made on a scale from "Routine" to "Impossible"), Lindor has converted 2-of-2 "Unlikely" plays, 2-of-2 "Even" plays, 1-of-1 "Likely" plays and 67 of his 70 "Routine" plays.
Perhaps the best stat to get across just how good Lindor has been comes from a quote by Jonah Keri in his recent mid-season review:
My favorite Indians stat of the year comes from R.J. Anderson’s Baseball Prospectus piece on the impact of vacuum-cleaner shortstop Francisco Lindor (and to a lesser extent, fellow call-up Giovanny Urshela). Without Lindor in the lineup, the Indians rank 28th in Defensive Efficiency. With him, they rank first. Even granting the vagaries of small sample size, the impact of pitchers and opposing hitters on factors such as batted-ball velocity, and other variables, that’s still a highly encouraging sign.
Lindor easily passes the eye test for defense as well. Seemingly every game he comes up with a big diving stop or an impressive throw that he gets off from shortstop to get the runner at first. Because words cannot do these plays justice, here are a few of my favorite Lindor defensive highlights in GIF form (click through for video).