When the New York Mets traded for Carlos Carrasco and Francisco Lindor in early January, the trajectory of the team’s future seemed to change completely. New owner Steve Cohen proved that he wasn’t all talk and the Mets became serious contenders overnight.
Lindor, in particular, is obviously bringing so much to the team and takes that lineup to the next level. But what makes him different from Mets’ shortstops of the past?
Lindor just turned 27 years old in November and has many years ahead of him, but he’s already bringing to the table more than any shortstop in team history ever has.
José Reyes. Bud Harrelson. Rey Ordóñez. These are the names of the greatest shortstops in franchise history. Lindor is different from them all in a good way.
Of course, the Mets are not known for having great history at the shortstop position, but that doesn’t take away from the fact that Lindor is fully capable of being (and expected to be) transformational.
What makes Lindor unique, in short, is that he’s the only shortstop in Mets history to be a true five-tool player.
In fact, he’s one of the best five-tool players in the game today. Let’s dive into the details.
We can begin by comparing the numbers. Lindor has played six seasons in the majors. Here are his stats over that time period: .285/.346/.488, .833 OPS, 117 OPS+, 138 HR, 411 RBI, 99 SB, 284 BB, 496 K, and 28.7 WAR.
He has every Mets shortstop not named Reyes at this point in their careers beat in everything. Six years into his career, Reyes had a slightly higher batting average (.287), more stolen bases (290), and fewer strikeouts (386- but that’s just part of how the game has evolved).
Hitting-wise, Lindor is unique from those that came before him in that he hits for average but also has great power, averaging well over 20 home runs over his career, thus far. So yes, Reyes might have hit for average a little bit better, but only had 61 home runs (and 310 RBIs) at this point in his career. Lindor has displayed more power and it isn’t even close.
Lindor boasts a higher on-base percentage than any other Mets shortstop because he’s such a good hitter but also because he generates so many walks. As if all of these abilities at the plate aren’t enough, Lindor is also incredibly fast and is an elite baserunner.
Reyes did have significantly more stolen bases six years in, but that was arguably his biggest strength. For Lindor, it’s just the cherry on top of the beautiful, delicious sundae.
In order to be a five-tool player, one must be a good fielder. Lindor is just that. He has an incredibly impressive career DRS of 46 and UZR of 54. This past season, Lindor’s OAA was five, good for 11th in the entire league. The Mets have had good defensive shortstops in the past but, again, they never had a player who was the complete package before now.
The Mets have never had a shortstop like Lindor: a five-tool guy who’s good at it all. He brings everything to the table: power, Gold Glove defense, speed, average, etc. Of course anything is possible, but Lindor has the ability to become the greatest shortstop in franchise history. The fact that he arguably isn’t even in his prime yet makes this achievement even more plausible.
Lindor, whose nickname is “Mr. Smile”, is considered to be the best shortstop in the game by many and is one of the faces of baseball. That alone makes him different from New York’s past shortstops.
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One of the most likable players in MLB, Lindor will help make the Mets relevant again. When the Mets are good, baseball is good. He’ll look to lead the Mets to multiple World Series titles while continuing to be the best shortstop in the game, something the team has never seen before.