I do not intend to write a Francisco Lindor recap post every month (despite already doing one exactly a month ago), but with his recent surge of offense it seems appropriate to revisit just how good the Cleveland Indians shortstop has been in his rookie campaign. We have known since even before his call-up in June that he would excel as a defensive shortstop, but his bat has come around in a big way.
Coming into Saturday, Lindor is batting .290/.322/.400, with five home runs in 52 games for the Tribe. That does not look fantastic and warrants only a league-average 100 wRC+. League average hitting from a plus defender at shortstop is pretty good though. More importantly, since the All-Star break, he has been a different hitter altogether. Lindor has an impressive slash line of .355/.381/.486 so far in the second half, including three of his five home runs. This is good for a 141 wRC+, second among AL shortstops.
He has also been a major catalyst in the recent success the Indians have enjoyed. He's riding a 9-game hitting streak, during which he has 17 hits; he's scored nine runs during that time. Batting second in the order, his ability to get on base has been a big boost for the team, and he's helped even more with some great moments on the base paths to help the Indians generate runs, including some smart movement on a hit-and-run in Thursday's loss to the New York Yankees -- a loss in which Lindor still went 2-for-3 in as one of the Indians biggest offense contributors.
If there is a knock on Lindor’s offense right now, it is something that may not be in his control. Post All-Star break, Lindor has six sacrifice hits, which leads the entire league. The next two closest are Ben Revere with four and Jose Reyes with three. After that, no one else in the league has more than two. Bottom line, Lindor is bunting far too often. Whether he is doing it himself or Terry Francona is calling for them, they have become detrimental, especially when the Tribe is losing by multiple runs at the time.
Naturally, Lindor is likely to regress offensively at some point. He is playing out of his shoes right now at the plate, and being a rookie will eventually catch up to him. Steamer projects him to bat .242/.289/.340 going forward and ZiPS has him at .253/.299/.366. Both seem reasonable, and both have his walk rate actually improving from its current 5.2%, which would be nice (ZiPS has 6.2%, Steamer has 5.9%). Either way, he is a ton of fun to watch now, and likely will be for years to come.
As for Lindor’s defense, there is not much left to say, he is amazing. So here, have a gif from Thursday night: