An unusual and unfortunate during the ongoing Francisco Lindor slump

Francisco Lindor's bat is only doing half of the work.
New York Mets v Atlanta Braves
New York Mets v Atlanta Braves / Matthew Grimes Jr./Atlanta Braves/GettyImages

How do you break a player out of a slump? New York Mets fans tried this weekend by cheering for Francisco Lindor upon his first introduction. A classy and respectable move that continued throughout the weekend, the star shortstop went 3 for 11 over the weekend with a pair of runs scored.

Is he back? Not quite. Congress defines a busted slump as “you know it when you see it.” Two hits on Sunday were a good start. They just need to lead to runs which on that day they didn’t.

Oddly, Lindor’s slump includes one very unusual trend. Lindor is making contact. It’s not always the best, but he is putting bat on ball. Now at a strikeout rate of 9.7% per plate appearance, he’s well below the career rate of fanning at 15.8% of the time.

Francisco Lindor is making contact, just not of much quality

Lindor has been a much bigger strikeout victim since coming to the Mets from Cleveland. In fact, his K% has gone up each year. From 18.3% in 2021, 18.8% in 2022, to a career-high 19.9% in 2023. Whiffing or at least getting Angel Hernandez’ed with a ball outside of the zone for strike three has been a much more regular occurrence for him in New York. Has he changed? The game’s evolution is probably the bigger culprit here.

Essentially striking out half as often this season hasn’t benefited Lindor one iota. Other numbers like exit velocity and hard hit percentage are down but not so drastically where it can explain what’s wrong with him. In these early weeks of the season numbers like these can jump out in a ridiculous way before eventually falling back to the mean. Nothing more than his strikeouts stick out.

Lindor’s struggles against right-handed pitchers have led the discussion about his slump. Now 4 for 46, he has as many hits against righties as he does lefties. The difference is he has gone against southpaws only 16 times.

Not all slumps are built the same way. Lindor’s has tragically included a lot of contact with the bat all for nil. The reason is the quality of contact. His barrel percentage of 3.8% is cut in half from a career of 7.3%. It may seem minor but with other weak numbers in terms of quality, it all leads to some easy outs for the defense.

Now the last of the regulars hitting below the Mendoza Line, attention has shifted from the putrid Mets offensive performance to one focused solely on him. Jeff McNeil has gotten singles happy and is drawing walks in bunches. Brandon Nimmo is the leader in the clubhouse in RBI despite being the leadoff hitter. Three more games at Citi Field this week before a road trip will give Lindor a chance to respond in front of the hometown fans. Eventually, balls need to start dropping in. 

Brett Baty and Harrison Bader are both batting over .300 and yet they’ve combined for as many extra-base hits as Lindor: 2. Both belong to Baty.

Baseball is a funny yet cruel game. Put the bat on the ball and good things will happen. Not always.