It seems like a distant memory now, but at one point last week, the Cleveland Indians could not buy themselves a win. After climbing to the top of the American League central with a series win against the then-good Chicago White Sox, the Tribe stumbled against the Baltimore Orioles and Texas Rangers. No one tumbled harder than Francisco Lindor.
At the plate, Frankie was 3-for-27 with a double being his one-and-only extra-base hit over the course of six games against the Rangers and Orioles.
"Oh no," you might be tempted to say, "Lindor's career is over, he finally did it -- he finally hit the sophomore slump. Opposing pitchers have adjusted to him. Maybe Xander Bogaerts really does deserve to start over him in the All-Sta-.." Nooooooooope.
Immediately following this mini-slump Lindor went on a four-game tear in which he was 8-for-17 with two doubles, two home runs, and a triple. Every national writer who had their "Lindor is having a sophomore slump" article penned up and ready to go had to delete it for the 28th time in the past two months. It's not happening.
However, I could not remember the last time Lindor looked below average at the plate for any amount of time, so I decided to mess around with Play Index. Only one other time in Lindor's career has he gone six straight games with one or fewer hits with more than three plate appearances in each game. That came mid-August of his rookie season when you could make the argument that he had an even worse week. He had four hits in that bad streak (as opposed to three), but no extra base hits. He also only walked twice, compared to the four walks this year's "bad" Lindor had. And what did Lindor do after last year's mini-slump? He went 12-for-19 over his next five games.
So, why point this out now that the Indians look unbeatable and Lindor is back to being Lindor? Because this is not a post meant to pile on while Lindor is on a short downturn. I am sure many of you have not even bothered to read past the title and are already writing angry Facebook comments, but this post is meant to point out that, damn he is good. Even when he looks bad, you cannot really tell. "Bad" Lindor still walks four times in a week. "Bad" Lindor still plays insane defense. "Bad" Lindor still never gets down on himself or shows body language of someone who cannot figure things out. "Bad" Lindor is still great Lindor.
Adam Burke sums it up nicely on Twitter just about every time Lindor does something great in a game:
Whatever a lifetime contract costs for Francisco Lindor, go ahead and do that.— Adam Burke (@SkatingTripods) April 29, 2016
On the subject of a sophomore slump, specifically, that is definitely not happening for Lindor. His walk rate is up 1.6 percent over last year, his strikeout rate is down almost a full two percent, and his UZR/150 still points to a top-flight defender. He is currently 12th in FanGraphs WAR among position players and the fourth-highest shortstop behind Manny Machado, Xander "Okay I guess he could start in the All-Star gamewhatever" Bogaerts, and Corey Seager of the Los Angeles Dodgers.