After being called up to the big leagues about one-third of the way into the season in 2015, Lindor made sure to show everyone that he had no plans of going back. He immediately started to live up to the hype as the best shortstop prospect the Indians have had seen since Omar Vizquel. His great defense translated right away, but it took a little time for him to get comfortable at the plate. Lindor really started to heat up at the dish in August and September and made it clear that he was here to stay.
At the beginning of last season, everyone around the organization was excited to see what the young phenom would be able to do in a full season with the big league club, and Lindor did not disappoint. According to espn.com, Lindor hit .301 for the season with 15 home runs and 78 RBI. He also had 182 hits, 99 runs,19 stolen bases, and walked 57 times. That is not a bad stat line for a guy in his first full year as a pro at the age of 22. He does not have a ton of overall power but he is a very disciplined hitter and had a total of 48 extra-base hits a season ago. Despite his small size, he has shown the ability to really get ahold of the ball sometimes like he did on the monster two-run homer he hit against Venezuela in the World Baseball Classic this Spring. Consistent power will probably continue to come as he develops throughout the years, but he did a great job of taking advantage of the table-setting skills he already has.
Lindor has always been a great fielder, but he also won his first gold glove award in 2016 for his great range and ability playing in the field. That further endeared him to the Tribe faithful, especially the 90’s fans that really liked Vizquel. Lindor has shown the ability to make difficult plays look routine, and he has saved a lot of runs by getting to the ball when it appears to have already made it through to outfield. He also has a great arm for the position and can recover quickly from making acrobatic plays to gun runners down at first base. No matter what happens with his career at the plate, he should be able to make a name for himself at shortstop for a long time.
While his offensive skill set and highlight-reel plays on defense are what put him on the map, he personality and passion for the game are the traits that make fans fall in love with him. Lindor always looks happy to be on the field and brings a hustle and energy to the game that many of his contemporaries cannot match. His emotion and passion attract young fans to the game, and dads can point their sons to him when they want to teach them how the game should be played. Some people may get annoyed when guys yell, pump their fists, and play with a smile on their face, but I think that is part of what makes the game so great. The baseball season is long, and most people can’t get through it with a straight face and business-like attitude every day. When the players enjoy playing the game, it is more enjoyable for fans to watch.
I don’t know if Lindor will continue to improve this year and fulfill his destiny as one of the best two-way players in the league for years to come or if he will take a step back and have some struggles this year. What I can tell you is that I am extremely excited to watch this guy grow and develop in the coming years with the Tribe, and I hope he is around for a long time. I know he will always be a great shortstop, but I am really excited to see what he will do with the protection of guys like Michael Brantley and Edwin Encarnacion in the Tribe’s newly revamped lineup.