For the New York Mets, a successful repeat of several offensive seasons would be vital for repeating the success of the 2022 season. Pete Alonso continues to mash in the middle of the order, Brandon Nimmo remains an effective leadoff hitter, and Jeff McNeil, the 2022 National League batting champion, is energizing the Mets' offense with his timely hits and ability to work as a power and contact hitter. This and successful hitting with players on base are critical for a successful 2023 season.
But no one needs to have a repeat, if not a better season, than star shortstop Francisco Lindor. Last season, as the Mets appeared to win the National League East, Lindor was primed to make noise in the NL MVP race. However, as the Mets wilted, Lindor’s MVP case fell to the side as Cardinals first baseman Paul Goldschmidt eventually won the award.
How Mets shortstop Francisco Lindor can win an MVP
For starters, the NL MVP race might be one of the more stocked in recent memory. Last season, the race came down to five players, and now, we have to consider players like Atlanta Braves outfielder Ronald Acuna Jr, Philadelphia shortstop Trea Turner, San Diego outfielder Juan Soto and shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr - just a few guys who didn’t get much consideration last season, get a chance to make noise in the race this year.
It starts with the offense. Last season, Lindor finished with a stat line of .270/.339/.449 with 26 home runs and 16 stolen bases, suitable for a 127 wRC+ (weighted runs created plus). He tapped into his power from previous years, while being an active threat on the basepaths. If he can take another step forward into his power and move into the 30-homerun territory, similar to his 2017-19 period with the Cleveland Guardians, then that would only strengthen his case.
The defense will have to continue to thrive. In his first season with New York, Lindor was great at shortstop, but there was some slippage, with his arm taking a slight step back and some uncharacteristic errors came along with it. Last season, even though the defensive metrics didn’t like his season as much as in 2020, Lindor had a more complete defensive year, with his arm stronger than ever and his focus on the field. Continuing to thrive at the most important position in baseball will allow his candidacy to remain strong.
And finally, the Mets have to be great as a team. Last season, New York winning 101 games and remaining in the thick of the National League East race allowed the Mets to have an MVP candidate, with Lindor being the prime candidate off the team. This upcoming season, the Mets have to be good and that allows the Mets to have a candidate. This year, Pete Alonso might get some more consideration for the award, but a strong Francisco Lindor season will once again put him in contention to nab the award.
For the New York Mets, the uphill climb to make the playoffs only got harder with the loss of Edwin Diaz for the season with a leg injury. Still, the Mets have a strong rotation and formidable hitters up and down the lineup. If New York can find a proper bullpen replacement or placeholder for Diaz, the Mets will continue to remain in contention for awards, including the NL MVP award.
If the Mets do have a National League MVP candidate, Francisco Lindor remains their best candidate for now. Lindor was great defensively, but ticked up offensively, thanks to his recent power surge. If Lindor can improve his hitting, moving up to the 30-home run mark, continue to steal bases, and play good defense, plus a successful Mets season, maybe even a National League East title, Lindor will once again enter the MVP race, and this time, come away with the hardware.