When New York Mets owner Steve Cohen signed his prized trade acquisition, Francisco Lindor, to a new 10 year $341 million contract extension a month ago, it signaled the beginning of a new day and age for the type of team the Mets were going to be. Gone, it looks like, are the days of being seen as both spend thrifty and nothing more than a mid-market type of operating franchise. The signing of the four time all star and former gold glove winning shortstop is a signal the rest of the Major League that the Mets want to be relevant for a long time to come.
However getting out of the gate has been anything but smooth for the Puerto Rican native. Twenty five games into his inaugural season with the Mets, Lindor is batting a paltry .175 with just one home run and three RBI despite playing in nearly every game. Entering May 6th, Lindor is 0 for his last 23 at bats and is batting just under .100 overall in his last eleven games.
The burning question seems to be what is causing such an ice cold start to Francisco Lindor’s Mets career at the plate?
Are Francisco Lindor’s slumping plate troubles more a mental or more a mechanical issue?
Well when we look at the numbers, it’s interesting to see that 75% of the outs made in Lindor’s last eleven games were balls he put in play. So making contact hasn’t been the issue. What’s been the issue has been the type of contact he is making. Nearly every ball Francisco is putting in play has been some sort of weak ground ball to an infielder. Advanced stats show that Lindor’s percentage of balls batted in play that are classified as “weak” is at 8.3%. This is two times higher the current MLB average for all batters.
This suggests that Lindor’s issues stem more mechanically. Watching him play day in and day out, it seems apparent that Lindor’s hips and the lower half of his body are way out in front of his upper body when he swings at pitches. As a result, he is rushing his swing and pulling his hips out in front way too early.
His decent contact rate shows his bat control is still there. It’s just that when contact is made, he is now just hitting the ball solely with only the power created from his arms and not generating any power from his legs or waist because he rushes out in front too early with his lower half. It’s common knowledge that the legs and waist create the power that allows hitters to drive the baseball and right now Francisco lacks that power due to his rushed timing.
The best way for an athlete to remedy this is to continually take swings in the batting cage and purposely remind themselves to wait back an extra split second before attempting to attack the baseball. All the repetitions should hopefully train a player’s muscle memory to wait a split second longer during the actual games before swinging at a pitch in their zone.
What’s even more intriguing though is why Lindor is rushing out in front to make contact with the baseball and throwing everything in his swinging motion off balance?
Could it be he is feeling the pressure and burden of having to live up to the mega contract he just signed back in April? Is playing in a big media market like New York something he finds too overwhelming when criticism comes down on him?
It is interesting that during Spring Training (before any large deal was signed), Lindor was tearing the cover off the baseball. He batted over .400 and had an OPS of over 1.090. It seemed impossible to get him out at the plate down in Florida. Now, after inking that huge contract, he can’t generate any sort of decent contact. That may be more than just a coincidence.
In my opinion, the wisest thing the Mets all star shortstop can do moving forward is to sit out a few games in a row and reset himself mentally. Sometimes players put too much pressure on themselves or are too anxious without realizing they are, and just overcompensate by swinging too early at good pitches. A few days off can kind of put things back in perspective and allow a player to process situations at a more reasonable pace mentally. This combined with hitting the batting cage to work on waiting back on his swing a little more should help Lindor go back to the future Hall of Fame caliber player we all know that he truly is.