When Francisco Lindor signed a 10-year, $341 million contract with the New York Mets in 2021, expectations for him skyrocketed. Fans and pundits alike were excited to see such a dynamic player make such a long-term commitment to the Mets. These sky-high expectations rolled over into the season–which turned out to be less then ideal. Lindor, used to playing in the small market of Cleveland, did not hit the ground running. He struggled with the move.
This year, however, things are looking quite different for him so far.
In Lindor’s second season as a New York Met, he has greatly improved in multiple facets of the game. It seems that he has adjusted to the new environment and it is showing. Today I’m going to look at Lindor’s season so far and what it means for the Mets and the rest of the season.
Back in Cleveland, Lindor was a star. He helped his team reach the 2016 World Series, he was an All-Star in four straight seasons and he won two Gold Gloves and two Silver Slugger Awards. Expectations were high for him when the Mets traded for him (and Carlos Carrasco) and later on when he signed an extension.
The reality, however, was much different, as people neglected to recognize the impact of such a move. Thus, it was a season to forget for Lindor, who finished the year slashing .230/.322/.412 with just 63 RBIs and ten stolen bases. Things got so bad that the fans took out their frustration on Lindor, subjecting him to the sounds of their displeasure. Despite this, he persevered, eventually providing a game to remember against the New York Yankees. The Mets faithful erupted in cheers as Lindor put their rivals to shame, defeating them in dramatic fashion. It was a bright spot in an otherwise disappointing year.
Lindor must have taken all the booing to heart, as we came out of the gate with fire. In his first 87 at-bats, he slashed .273/.360/.494 with four home runs; he hit 20 home runs all of last year. Since then, despite a few mild slumps, he has continued to perform well. In 70 games (a little bit more than half of what he played last year), he’s hitting .243/.319/.412 with 11 home runs, 52 RBIs and eight stolen bases–all before the All-Star Break.
Plus, with the help of MVP candidate Pete Alonso, he has already scored 43 runs after scoring 73 all of last year. While Buck Showalter has frequently tinkered with the Mets’ lineup, he has consistently placed Lindor right before Alonso. Lindor’s resurgence at the plate is a big reason why Alonso leads MLB with 66 RBIs. It’s this type of teamwork that has played such a big role in the Mets’ success so far this season. Even if Lindor doesn’t always get RBIs, he helps his team out by getting on base and scoring runs.
Addtionally, there seems to be more camraderie with him and the rest of the team. Last season, there were reports of a rift between Lindor and Jeff McNeil. However, so far this season, the two players seemed to have forgiven each other, with Lindor even giving McNeil and incentive to improve his game. McNeil has responded in kind, hitting .327/.386/.465 so far this season. They have frequently played the middle infield together to far this season, even though defense is one of the few places where Lindor can improve on. He already has six errors so far, finishing last season with ten.
Finishing the Season Strong
Despite his overall improvement, Lindor has had some minor slumps so far. Still, he has provided a much-needed offensive boost to the team, helping them reach 353 runs–the most in the National League and second only to the New York Yankees. If the Mets are to have any chance of making the playoffs and going far, however, Lindor will have to continue to perform well.
With Max Scherzer and Jacob deGrom hopefully returning from injury relatively soon, the rotation will receive a boost. In the meantime, the offense will have to score runs and keep their team in the thick of things. Plus, with the Atlanta Braves surging in recent weeks, the Mets will have to be on top of their game even more.
This all starts tonight, when the Mets take on the Miami Marlins in South Florida. Lindor has a .313 AVG against pitcher Sandy Alcantra with two RBIs. Hopefully Lindor can use tonight as a launching point into another good stretch of games as the Mets look to enter the All-Star Break at the top of the NL East. Speaking of All-Star Break, Lindor currently sits in third place in votes among the other NL shortstops. If he makes it, it would be his first All-Star appearance since 2019.
For now, however, the Mets will have to hope that Lindor’s beloved mother can appear at more games and inspire her son. The Mets could really use this version of Lindor this season–not last year’s version.