Five Performances that Propelled the Cleveland Indians to the World Series

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Oct 19, 2016; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Cleveland Indians relief pitcher Ryan Merritt (54) pitches during the first inning against the Toronto Blue Jays in game five of the 2016 ALCS playoff baseball series at Rogers Centre. Mandatory Credit: Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 19, 2016; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Cleveland Indians relief pitcher Ryan Merritt (54) pitches during the first inning against the Toronto Blue Jays in game five of the 2016 ALCS playoff baseball series at Rogers Centre. Mandatory Credit: Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports /
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The Budding Superstar

Oct 14, 2016; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Indians shortstop Francisco Lindor reacts after hitting a two-run home run against the Toronto Blue Jays in the 6th inning in game one of the 2016 ALCS playoff baseball series at Progressive Field. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 14, 2016; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Indians shortstop Francisco Lindor reacts after hitting a two-run home run against the Toronto Blue Jays in the 6th inning in game one of the 2016 ALCS playoff baseball series at Progressive Field. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports /

Lindor has had quite the year in his first full season in the big leagues. He avoided the dreaded sophomore slump, slashing .301/.358/.435 in 158 games, with 30 doubles, 15 home runs, 78 RBIs, 19 stolen bases, and a 5.7 bWAR that was tops on the team among position players.

The 22-year old also made his first all-star team and is among the frontrunners at shortstop to take home the American Gold Glove award, but he’s had a coming out party in the playoffs.

There was the home run in the first game of the division series against Boston, of course, but the full weight of Lindor’s talents was brought to bear on the ALCS as he introduced himself to the national television audience at the plate and in the field.

His two-run homer in Game One against Toronto broke a scoreless a tie in the sixth inning and proved to be the only runs in the game. A day later, his third inning RBI single was also the game-winner in a tight 2-1 victory.

Lindor has also flashed his glove for so many unbelievable defensive plays, they can’t all be listed. There’s a reason he led all AL shortstops in Baseball-Reference’s total zone runs.

But perhaps most importantly has been the unbridled joy and enthusiasm he brings to the game. His 1,000-watt smile doesn’t just play well to fans watching the games, but helps to infuse positive energy into his teammates and the crowd at the stadium. During hard-fought postseason games, that may mean more than any homer or double play turned.

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