Cleveland Indians: Francisco Lindor Taps Superstar Potential
The Cleveland Indians will defend their American League championship this year led by a young shortstop who could be baseball’s next superstar.
The collar that was hung around the Tribe’s three-hole hitter in that decisive game of the Fall Classic by the Chicago Cubs pitching staff certainly stings.
Lindor did reach on an error with two outs and nobody on in the bottom of the first inning. That would prove his personal offensive highlight of the night.
In the bottom of the third inning, Lindor came to bat with two runners on base and one out. He flew out to left field against Cubs starter Kyle Hendricks with Cleveland trailing 3-1.
In the bottom of the fifth, Lindor was at the plate against Jon Lester when the Cubs lefty uncorked a wild pitch that allowed two runners to score.
That play cut the Indians’ deficit at the time to a 5-3 margin. But Lindor then struck out on a full count pitch to end the inning.
Trailing by 6-3 in the bottom of the eight inning, the Indians would rally to dramatically tie the game on Rajai Davis‘ two-out, two-run homer off Aroldis Chapman. But Lindor wasn’t involved in the rally. He had accounted for one of the outs, grounding weakly to short to lead things off.
With two out and nobody on in the bottom of the ninth, the game still knotted at 6-6, Lindor flew out to right against Chapman.
That would be Lindor’s final chance to affect the outcome. The Cubs would score twice in the top of the 10th. The Tribe would respond with one in the bottom and put the tying run on base, but their rally and title hopes would fall just short.
EMERGING DYNAMIC SUPERSTAR
Despite his failure to produce in that ultimate game, the fact remains that without Lindor the Indians wouldn’t even have reached the postseason, let alone the World Series.
“Absolutely dynamic player. I mean he’s really good now, but he’s still scratching the surface. As he continues to gain confidence and understanding of the league and what people are trying to do versus him, woof, it’s going to keep getting better.” – Maddon
At just age 22, Lindor won the Gold Glove Award for American League shortstops. He was an AL All-Star for the first time, and finished ninth in the voting for AL Most Valuable Player.
Now preparing to enter his second full big league season, Lindor is one of the emerging young superstars in baseball’s new generation.
WELCOME TO CLEVELAND
Lindor was Cleveland’s first-round choice at eighth overall in the 2011 MLB Amateur Draft out of Montverde High School in Florida.
Over the next few years, Lindor shined at each step of his development. Prior to the 2015 season he was a consensus top 10 prospect in all of baseball.
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Lindor made his big league debut on June 14, 2015, at Comerica Park in a game against the host Detroit Tigers. He has been the starting shortstop for the Indians since that day. Given health, he figures to continue in that role for at least the next decade.
Lindor hit for a .313/.353/.482 slash line that first season. He smacked a dozen home runs and stole a dozen bases, knocked in 51 runs and scored 50 times. He also played a stellar shortstop.
There would be no sophomore slump for Lindor. Last season he put together a .301/.358/.435 campaign. He slammed 15 home runs among 48 total extra-base hits. Lindor knocked in 78 runs, scored 99 times and stole 19 bases. And his fielding reached another level altogether.
In the Tribe’s run to that World Series appearance, his Game 7 failure was an anomaly. Lindor hit .310 in the postseason, and homered in both the ALDS and ALCS.
LINDOR LEADS PUERTO RICO IN 2017 WBC
Lindor has not had much time yet to play with his Indians teammates this spring as they prepare to defend their American League championship.
The now 23-year-old is the starting shortstop for his native Puerto Rico in the World Baseball Classic. The team is undefeated, and Lindor has played a big role. He was quoted on the WBC experience by Matt Kelly and Austin Laymance of MLB.com:
“Whatever we need in order to win a championship, the chemistry is there, the batting is there, the pitching is there. It’s a matter of playing ball correctly.” – Lindor
Over four games in the 2017 WBC, Lindor is hitting .429 with a .500 on-base percentage. His six hits are tied for the team lead, and his five runs scored lead the squad. He homered twice in a big 9-4 victory over Mexico last Saturday.
In his first two MLB seasons combined, Lindor has been worth 10.3 WAR to the Indians. But in reality, he is even more valuable than the statistics. He is an irreplaceable piece in the middle of their infield and their batting order.
At his young age, Lindor has already experienced and achieved a great deal. The reality is that he may be just scratching the surface. There will be many more All-Star Games, awards and postseason moments for this budding superstar in the Forest City.