Cleveland Indians’ Shortstop Francisco Lindor Making Case for Rookie of the Year Award

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Remember when Francisco Lindor was called up, and the team cautioned that while he might be a stellar defender, he wasn’t exactly going to punish the ball with his bat?

Flash forward to September, and the Tribe’s rookie shortstop is posting a .308/.347/.437 line, with a not-even-that-outrageous BABIP of .348. Sure, he’s probably due for a bit of regression – players with a BABIP that high typically are – but it’s not as though he’s simply getting lucky.

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In just 70 games, Lindor has knocked in 31 runs and scored 30 times himself. He’s also crushed seven home runs and swiped six bases, making him valuable in many ways. His 5.7 percent walk rate is slightly lower than league average, but he’s also striking out just 15.9 percent of the time – considerably less than most players.

Lindor has made a huge impact on this team, and one could argue that most other top rookies haven’t even come close – Miguel Sano is playing well for the Twins, but he’s played even fewer games than Lindor. Similarly, Billy Burns is a tough player to argue against, but the Oakland Athletics have been so bad that his efforts haven’t made a real impact on the team’s season.

Lindor’s biggest competition is fellow shortstop Carlos Correa, who is tearing it up through 71 games in Houston. Correa’s turned in 45 RBIs and 38 runs, all while batting .276/.345/.513. He also has 16 homers and 11 stolen bases, so it will be tough for Lindor to catch up offensively.

One interesting point to note is that while Correa’s defense has been good, both players have a 2.7 WAR. That means Lindor must be doing something very special with his glove to make up the difference in their value. And he is – Lindor has already turned 42 double plays, and has 7 Defensive Runs Saved. Correa’s DRS is listed at -1, even though he’s certainly not considered a bad defender.

With such a close race, it may come down to the fact that the Houston Astros will almost certainly make the playoffs, while the Indians would have to go on a 2013-like winning streak to even reach the Wild Card game. Correa is going to help his team make the playoffs and potentially go deep into October, and Lindor’s failed attempt to do the same thing in Cleveland may make voters less likely to pick him over the Astros’ shortstop.

Regardless of how the voting turns out, Lindor is certainly deserving of all the hype that has accompanied him, and it’s safe to say that his rookie season so far has been one of the most impressive debuts in Indians’ history.

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