While not getting too high on the soapbox, Cleveland trading one of the faces of its franchise entering his power peak on the precipice of being a free agent should upset the fanbase. However, Mets fans can revel in the moment adding the effervescent Francisco Lindor to its already strong infield with ripple effects to the roster. First, Jeff McNeil gets to shift back to second base and with Lindor at shortstop. Lindor could hit second or third in an underrated lineup in fantasy circles. Shifting to the National League East may take some time to acclimate, but once Lindor gets his feet under him, ruling out a potential career year with a much deeper lineup may be in the offing. 

In 2020, Lindor played in all 60 contests for Cleveland logging 266 plate appearances with 30 runs, eight home runs, 27 RBI, six stolen bases but a disappointing .258/.335/.415 slash line. His walk and strikeout rates remained in line with career results but his isolated power dropped to .157 and Lindor notched a career low weighted on-base average (.324 wOBA). He also recorded his highest swinging strike percentage with his contact percentage falling to 80.8 percent. Thankfully Lindor's Z-Contact (in the strike zone) remained above league average at 88.9 percent.

According to Statcast, Lindor registered 197 batted ball events with 11 barrels (5.6 percent), an 89.9 MPH average exit velocity and 41.1 hard hit percentage. Steady as they come, Lindor's reached a hard-hit rate (batted ball events with a 95 MPH or higher exit velocity) in each of the last three seasons. Although his batting average fell in 2020, Lindor actually owned his best sweet spot percentage providing hope for a quick rebound in 2021. His expected statistics suggest positive migration to the mean as well. Lindor produced a .278 expected batting average (20 points above his actual), a .441 expected slugging (26 points above his 2020 total) and a .333 expected weighted on-base average.

Mining his discipline metrics from Statcast, Lindor generated fewer swings in 2020 but his whiff percentage rose by 3.3 percentage points. Taking this and his career worst swinging strike percent into account, it's possible Lindor pressed during his at-bats. Since Cleveland's offense relied on Lindor and teammate José Ramírez , this makes sense. Although Lindor's pull percentage rose to 44.2 percent in 2020, his second half numbers imply he returned to more normal rates from both sides of the plate.

There's no secret a player's Age-27 season represents him entering his power peak. Last year, Lindor cut his ground ball rate to a career low 39.6 percent trading them for line drives (33 percent). This may be a perfect storm for his 2021 season. Taking all of his line drives and fly balls from the last three years into account, here's Lindor's radial chart which displays his launch angles along with exit velocity:

For Lindor, producing line drives equates to his best contact. In fact, once his launch angle rises above 31 percent, his power decreases as seen above. Plus, in 2020, Lindor almost doubled his solid percentage on Statcast from 4.7 percent in 2019 to 9.1 percent. While his pull side power to right field may reduce slightly, his power to right-center may benefit. Keep this in mind when seeing his spray chart later on.

Being a switch-hitter, Lindor launched all eight home runs as a left-handed hitter in 2020 but with a lower average and wOBA. As a right-handed batter last year, Lindor walked (four times) more than he struck out (three times) with a .293 average but only five extra-base hits (all doubles) in his 66 plate appearances. Lindor racked up 16 extra-base hits (eight doubles and eight home runs) with a .247 average over 200 plate appearances. For his career, here's how his splits shake out:

  • Lindor vs. LHP: 1,110 plate appearances, 38 home runs; .301/.364/.487, .186 ISO, .362 wOBA
  • Lindor vs. RHP: 2,400 plate appearances, 100 home runs; .278/.337/.488, .210 ISO, .347 wOBA

Since last year provides such a limited sample, in order to project his upcoming season, expanding the numbers becomes prudent. In these steps, determining how Lindor performed from the second half of 2019 through the end of last year along with his last three years needs to be included. For starters:

  • Lindor 2H 2019-through-2020: 134 games, 86 runs, 26 home runs, 69 RBI, 15 stolen bases; .267/.325/.478, 7.4 BB%, 14.4 K%, .211 ISO, .335 wOBA

To be honest, it seemed like these numbers would be better for a talent like Lindor. An ankle injury suffered in March hindered Lindor throughout the 2019 season and his results as the season progressed declined. Account for this in the data above along with the struggling Cleveland offense last year.

Expanding to his last three years, Lindor's numbers reflect a truer representation of his abilities:

  • Lindor Last 3 Years: 365 games, 1,682 plate appearances, 262 runs, 78 home runs, 194 RBI, 54 stolen bases; .276/.342/.500, 8.5 BB%, 14.7 KA%, .225 ISO, .353 wOBA

For the visual crowd, here's Lindor's three season spray chart of his line drives and fly ball with Citi Field as the backdrop:

Plus, an even better representation of all of Lindor's home runs if they occurred at his new ballpark:

There's going to be some debate on how Lindor may handle moving to a big market like New York but he's accustomed to playing on a big stage with playoff and World Series experience. More than this, he's a team leader who enjoys playing baseball. Perusing his projections entering his Age-27 season, Lindor's primed to bounce back:

  • Lindor 2021 Steamer projection: 150 games, 682 plate appearances, 99 runs, 33 home runs, 90 RBI, 19 stolen bases; .262/.336/.485, 9.2 BB%, 15.4 K%, .224 ISO, .341 wOBA
  • Lindor 2021 ZiPS projection: 151 games, 687 plate appearances, 112 runs, 35 home runs, 94 RBI, 21 stolen bases; .291/.355/.540, 8.6 BB%, 14.4 K%, .249 ISO, .367 wOBA

While digesting the data above, where Lindor hits in the Mets batting order (either second or third) along with how the rest of the lineup takes shape may affect his counting statistics. If Lindor hits second, his runs would increase while the RBI may ebb back slightly. Plus, who he hits in front of may determine how many stolen base attempts he accrues over a season. Since 2015, Lindor owns a .285 xBA, .471 xSLG and .353 xwOBA courtesy of Statcast. One can adjust the numbers for Lindor based on where he hits, but if his Age-27 season yields a return of his power with a rebound in batting average, here's how things could look:

  • Lindor 350 plate appearances: 53 runs, 18 HR, 43 RBI, 10 SB
  • Lindor 500 plate appearances: 76 runs, 25 HR, 62 RBI, 14 SB
  • Lindor 650 plate appearances: 98 runs, 32 HR, 80 RBI, 19 SB

As far as his batting average for the numbers above, a sliding scale of .277-.293 provide potential outcomes with a return likely in the middle. Suffice to say, Lindor makes for a strong target in 2021.


Statistical Credits:




ZiPS courtesy of Dan Szymborski