New York Mets shortstop Francisco Lindor is finally living up to his contract. After slashing .258/.335/.415 in 2020 and .230/.322/.412 last season, there were questions if Lindor was still the same player who hit .284/.335/.518 in 2019. As of April 25 however, Lindor is hitting .313/.408/.563 looking like an absolute stud. The expectations for Lindor going into the season weren't particularly high, ESPN projected .259/.334/.448 with 25 HR, 72 RBI and 16 SB's. I think that it's about time that we readjusted those expectations.
The New York Mets have an elite SS
Francisco Lindor has 1.3 bWAR already for the season, putting him in first place among all shortstops in the Majors and fourth among all players. The batting line that I mentioned above shows just how elite he has been so far. The obvious question with Lindor is whether he can keep this up for the whole season. Lindor is 28 years old so he's just entering his prime and it's not at all surprising if it's him breaking out in a way and improving.
Is Lindor's current production "a fluke"? Lindor's batting average on balls in play is .320, which is only slightly higher than his career .293 average. This means that his current .313 average won't drop too much. It's realistic to expect a .280+ batting average when he did it before. What about his power? Between 2017-2019 Lindor never played less than 143 games and hit between 32 and 38 home runs annually. Would it be a stretch to project him to hit 32 this year instead of the ESPN projection of 25?
Lindor bats in the middle of the Mets' batting order, instead of ESPN's lead-off projection, so his RBI totals will almost certainly be higher than 72. I predict him to drive in over 90 runs, especially if he hits 32 home runs. Lindor's stolen base total shouldn't be affected at all, so 16 is still a possibility. Lindor has improved his BB% to a career best 13.2% (his career average is 8.6%) so it wouldn't be a surprise to see him set a career high in walks. He can potentially top his record 70 from 2017. He can definitely beat the 57 projected by ESPN.
It's pretty clear that Lindor is going to do better than the ESPN projections. .259 is a pretty underwhelming projection and he will clearly hit better than that, The home run total is also on the weak side and he can't possibly finish with 72 RBI when he bats third in the batting order. We can safely rule out those projections as realistic at this point.
Lindor is having a career year and I fully believe in Lindor remaining a NL MVP candidate and setting career highs all across the board. If I had to make an official prediction on Lindor's totals, I'd go with a .285/.360/.504 season with 32 home runs, 100 RBI and 16 SB's. Perhaps this is the year that Lindor thanks Steve Cohen's investment with a NL MVP award. He will certainly deserve it if he lives up to the new projections.