The Cleveland Indians fell just short of a Wild Card play-in game in 2019. They’re going to have to gain ground on the defending AL Central champs, the Minnesota Twins, in order to have a better shot at the postseason. One of their key cogs is shortstop Francisco Lindor.
Lindor began last season on the injured list with ankle and calf problems. After three weeks, he made his return but was hampered by a slow start. In his first 11 games, he hit just .214 with three homers and six RBIs in 42 at-bats. Over his next 79 games, his bat came alive by averaging .319 with 55 runs, 15 HRs, 37 RBIs, and 16 SBs over 335 at-bats. In his remaining games, he ended with 40 runs, 14 home runs, and 31 RBI over 221 at-bats, but Lindor only hit .244. The stats on paper show an above-average player who can hit for power but that RBI rate has to rebound significantly.
Most of his success came against right-handed pitchers (.298 with 24 HRs and 50 RBI over 400 at-bats). His strikeout rate (15.0) was a touch higher than in previous years (12.9 and 14.4), yet it’s still a solid rate. Lindor enjoyed an improvement to his contact batting average (.340) while matching his AVH value (1.824) for the third straight season. His walk rate declined (7.0 – 9.4 in 2018 and 8.0 in his career). His hard-hit rate (40.4) came at 148th while ranking high in balls hit 95 MPH or more (205 – 14th). Lindor also can steal bases (22 in 2019, 25 in 2018) so his speed and power combination only adds to his fantasy value.
We’re looking at 2019 as the floor of his potential with room for small growth in his averages/rates. He should be considered a lock as a 30/20 player who also has an excellent chance at 200 combined runs and RBI when given a full season of at-bats. Look for a push up in his batting average in 2020. His ADP (8) makes him a first-round, first-piece-to-your-fantasy-team-puzzle type of player.
READ MORE: 2020 Cleveland Indians Fantasy Team Preview