Francisco Lindor of the Cleveland Indians is having quite the rookie season. He is already the best defensive shortstop in the American League, and Lindor’s offense has continually improved throughout the season as he is closing any arguments on who should win the AL Rookie of the Year Award. His best month has been September as Lindor nearly single-handedly (at times) kept the Indians in the race for the last AL Wild Card slot.
Creating a Top 10 plays of the season would be an injustice to the final month that Lindor has displayed. There were already enough outstanding plays that were left on the cutting room floor making a September list.
On September 1, in the sixth inning, Edwin Encarnacion hits a hard-hit line drive up the middle. Only Francisco Lindor reacted quickly and makes the catch while diving. The flip to Kipnis after the catch is merely for effect.
Oh, and there might be another play from this game on the list. If you are a huge Lindor fan, then you likely can even guess the play.
On September 14, Carlos Carrasco was getting himself into a bit of trouble in the sixth inning. He had loaded up the bases and the Indians were clinging to a 4-1 lead. It might not have been his most amazing play, but it was certainly among the most clutch plays as Lindor envelops the Kendrys Morales groundball to his right, collects himself, and ensures Carrasco escapes without damage being done.
On September 24, Lindor hit his fourth triple of the season. Statcast was there to display the outstanding measurables.
Lindor started off with an exit velocity on his line drive of 103.9 miles per hour, which is what helped propel it all the way to the DAVMN sign (whatever DAV in MN is). Lindor reached third base just 11.93 seconds after leaving the batter’s box, while reaching a maximum speed of 20.6 miles per hour.
On September 22, the Indians fell apart after a bad call. Michael Brantley was injured, Danny Salazar gave up the only three runs of the game, and the sheer terribleness of the call inspired a Chevy Chase rant recap.
However, the wreckage would have been even worse had Lindor not made a diving play to his right to stop the ball, pop up, and throw out Trevor Plouffe to end the worse inning of the 2015 Cleveland Indians season.
It is important to set the tone to a game. Lindor understands such as the first batter of the game on September 28, Brian Dozier hits one to his right, which Lindor snares, turns, and throws him out for Carlos Santana to apply a tag on the diving player.
Yes, I am cheating and including two plays from the same game in the same clip. Lindor cannot be bound by a mere top 10 list. Lindor goes to 11.
On September 16, Francisco Lindor hit his 100th hit of his MLB career. After the Indians fireworks guy had a tough night the previous evening, everyone wanted to see him get a chance to redeem himself. Well, in the first inning, Lindor did not just get a ball to barely clear the fence where the umpires could go to replay and rule it a triple. No, Lindor sent a towering shot high into the sky that easily cleared the playable surface. Fireworks guy could put an emphatic stamp on that button.
Did I mention that Lindor hit that home run right-handed?
Then, in the top of the fifth, Alex Rios hit a ground ball up the middle for a single to center field. At least, the play-by-play would have read that way against a team without Lindor at shortstop. For the Indians, Lindor made the diving play up the middle, rotated around on one knee, and made the throw to get the out. All with a mile-wide smile on his face and the crowd loudly stating its approval.
On September 6, Lindor once again got some Statcast treatement done on his ridiculous defensive abilities. On a slow roller by the speedy Rajai Davis, Lindor made a first step in 0.16 seconds, charged hard, and threw a 72.3 mile per hour bullet just over 100 feet to record the out.
On September 9, Lindor put on an offensive show. Lindor wound up accounting for three of the Indians six runs in what would ultimately end as a 6-4 win over the Chicago White Sox.
His triple in the first inning was a veteran move where he turned on the jets towards third once he saw Eaton mishandle the ball. The extra moment it took to relay the ball in was all Lindor needed to slide in ahead of the tag for a triple.
After Ramirez homered in the fifth, Lindor must have thought it looked like fun not to worry about base running. So, he hit a line drive home run to right field and trotted around the bases unopposed.
Lindor simply stayed with the pitch in the seventh inning and poked a single into left field. Again, the rest of the American League should be shaking right now. Lindor is learning, adapting, and growing as a hitter.
Statcast must love having Francisco Lindor in the league. On September 17, Eric Hosmer surely thought he had a hit and perhaps an RBI in the first inning. Off the bat, Hosmer’s batted ball was traveling 108.5 miles per hour. However, Lindor reacted in 0.05 seconds to move right and snag the ball. The 84-mile-per-hour throw made the final resulting out beat Hosmer to the bag by a full stride.
On September 1, the Cleveland Indians played the Toronto Blue Jays in a playoff type atmosphere at the Rogers Centre in Toronto. With one out in the top of the eighth, Lindor hit the ball to center fielder Kevin Pillar, who made a nice transition throw to second base. Lindor though never slowed down even as it became obvious the ball was going to beat him to the bag by a good five feet. As the slide began, Lindor must have noticed that the glove was coming at him towards his right hand.
So, Lindor pulled back his hand and leaned on his left hip to manipulate his body toward the inside corner of the bag and extend his left hand out just in time to touch it before he could be tagged. It was the most impressive slide I have seen, including any that I can remember from the great Kenny Lofton.
Anyone watching the game would have been wholly disappointed had Statcast not broken down the play. Well, no one was disappointed. Among the measurables, Lindor ran from home to second base in 8.1 seconds and reached a maximum speed of 20.3 miles per hour. Of course, even Statcast cannot yet measure the reaction time on his instinctual body shift during the slide.
Francisco Lindor has the offense, the defense, and the personality to be a star of the Cleveland Indians and MLB for a long, long time. And, there is not a doubt he should be voted as AL Rookie of the Year. Carlos Correa is a fine player. But, he is no Francisco Lindor.