Are Francisco Lindor’s batting stats cause for Mets concern? | MLB Insider Andy Martino

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Andy Martino
·3 min read
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Francisco Lindor reacts after striking out against the Rockies - 2021
Francisco Lindor reacts after striking out against the Rockies - 2021

Most of Francisco Lindor’s top-line numbers this season -- a .189 batting average, no home runs, a .216 slugging percentage -- are not yet good. And it turns out that his peripherals offer little immediate comfort.

Per Baseball Savant, he is in the 46th percentile in average exit velocity, the 44th percentile in expected batting average, the 20th percentile in expected slugging percentage, and the 42nd percentile in hard hit percentage. Of 36 batted balls this year, he has barreled zero of them.

Having said all that, we’re now going to put the obvious response in caps, to ensure that readers know that we’re aware of it. Ready?

IT’S 48 PLATE APPEARANCES, YOU CLICKBAIT CLOWN! THE METS HAVE HARDLY BEEN ABLE TO STRING TWO GAMES TOGETHER YET.

Or, as Marcus Stroman might choose to tweet over the link to this article, “Poo poo take, sir.”

All sample size arguments are fair. But we’re just trying to understand if there is anything at all to worry about with Lindor, especially after a down year at the plate in 2020. He’s going to be a Met for 11 years, after all, and will occupy a significant chunk of the payroll the entire time.

It’s also important to note that Lindor has shown the defensive wizardry, leadership and presence that were factors in the team’s willingness to offer him $341 million. His Javy Baez-esque chest pump after applying a game-ending tag on Sunday must have had Mets fans as fired up as they have been in quite a while.

But what about his hitting?

Asked if there is any reason for concern, trusted evaluators offer mixed responses.

“All I can tell you is, our scouts think he’s awesome,” said one rival GM. “If we could fit him in our payroll we would have been all over him.”

Another veteran evaluator offered a less rosy view. “If you look at his offensive trends,” the evaluator said, “you wonder if there was a peak about two years ago.”

On Monday, we were fortunate to have Omar Minaya on Baseball Night in New York, where we could ask him for his scout’s take on Lindor’s hitting.

“A lot of times when a player comes from a different league, which he did, and signs a big contract -- we saw it a little bit from Carlos Beltran [in 2005] -- it takes him a little bit of time to adjust to the league,” Minaya said. “From an at-bat standpoint, the way he approaches the at-bat, he can be a little bit in between.

“[Lindor] is getting his walks, but the one thing that really stands out right now is he’s not really driving the ball. There’s contact … but there isn’t really a lot of drive. Usually when a guy is not driving the ball, it’s just his rhythm, he doesn’t know some of the pitching coming to the new league. But I don’t see the impact. I don’t see the exit velocity coming off the bat.

“Coming from an evaluation [standpoint], what I see a lot of is, it’s going to be from his lower half. Being able to be better balanced, being able to use his lower half, meaning his legs, as he approaches. But you want to see more impact, and usually exit velocity will tell you whether there is impact or not impact when he makes contact.”

In that answer, Minaya touched on a question about Lindor that is asked often in scouting circles: How much power is it reasonable to expect from him? Will he continue to drive the ball like he did when he was a few years younger?

Given that Lindor has already hit 33, 38 and 32 home runs in a season, perhaps this is too tough a question for now. Let’s wait and see if his 2021 start is a blip, or a topic we’ll need to revisit.