Why the New York Mets should regret their lengthy commitment to Lindor

Photo by Christopher Pasatieri/Getty Images
Photo by Christopher Pasatieri/Getty Images /

With a big smile and infectious personality, New York Mets shortstop Francisco Lindor is arguably one of the most marketable players in MLB. But should the Mets ultimately regret their long-term commitment to him? 

Back in January of 2021, the New York Mets acquired ‘superstar’ shortstop Francisco Lindor (along with SP Carlos Carrasco) from the then-Indians, in a blockbuster deal that sent Andres Gimenez and Amed Rosario to Cleveland.

New York baseball fans were ecstatic at the time, as Lindor — a switch-hitter with pop and Gold Glove defense — had very nearly led Cleveland to a World Series title in 2016.

Lindor had shown all-star all-around ability with the potential to lead his team all the way. Fans were instantly drooling at the possibilities.

But did they really look closely enough?

Francisco Lindor beat up on the Royals’ weak pitching with Cleveland

The whispers were always there amongst MLB fans who look long and hard at things: Was Francisco Lindor merely beating up on poor pitching in the AL Central?

In the 2010s, the AL Central struggled through an epidemic of surprisingly-poor pitching. In particular, Lindor mashed against the Kansas City Royals.

How about a .326 lifetime batting average (53 points above his .273 career mark), with 122 hits, 27 home runs, 76 RBI and 73 runs in 92 games against the Royals? Just absolutely incredible.

This isn’t a knock on Lindor in a general sense — it’s okay to hit whomever is pitching, he can’t control who he’s facing anyway — but it’s a reasonable worry for any organization looking to project Lindor’s production over the next decade or so.

How much stock do you put into skewed numbers like these? One would think a lot.

Lindor also hit .284 vs. the Minnesota Twins and .281 vs. the Tigers, both clearly above his career batting average.

Francisco Lindor feasts on sub-.500 teams 

In his career, Francisco Lindor has 392 RBI against sub-.500 teams, compared to only 232 vs. above-.500 clubs. He has a .286 batting average against the weaker teams, compared to .258 vs. better.

Perhaps most shocking and telling of all, Lindor’s OPS vs. sub-.500 teams is .851… compared to just .758 vs. above-.500 squads! Yikes.

So what does all this mean?

Well, if you factor in beating up on the Royals and bad teams in general, that doesn’t project well for Lindor’s 10-year contract as pitcher velocity, effectiveness and usage continue to go up, up, up.

Francisco Lindor’s production declined before Mets’ acquisition

In 2019, as an American League all-star who finished 15th in MVP voting, Lindor hit .284 with an .854 OPS. Everything appeared to be in order.

However, in the season before the blockbuster trade, his batting average dropped from .284 to .258. His slugging percentage dropped from .518 to .415, and his OPS dropped from .854 to .750.

Furthermore, Lindor only hit over .300 in his first two seasons in the bigs. It hasn’t happened again since, and he’s currently hitting just .214.

NY Mets: So who is the real Francisco Lindor?

In my not-so-humble opinion, pitcher velocity is the culprit here. Pitchers continue to get bigger, stronger and more explosive. Managers and front office teams utilize them properly, managing their pitch counts and allowing them to throw at max-effort as frequently as humanly possible.

From the left side of the plate, Lindor simply can’t catch up. Most of his damage is coming against hanging breaking balls, down. Any type of high gas? He swings right through it. Over and over and over again.

Thus, the trend will continue: Lindor will keep getting older, while pitchers get stronger and more powerful. That simple equation spells disaster for the New York Mets.

They are potentially stuck with a declining Lindor, all the way through the 2031 MLB campaign. Buckle up for a crash landing, Mets fans.

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John Frascella is a published baseball author who has been covering MLB for 19 years. Follow him on Twitter @LegendSports7 for all things Mets, MLB, NFL and NBA throughout the year.