“I think Frankie’s a really intelligent young man and he loves playing baseball. I think he has enjoyed what has come with it – which he should. As long as he handles what he has to handle at the ballpark – which he does amazingly well for a young kid – it works.” – Terry Francona (Indians Manager)
Francisco Lindor plays the game the way you want your own kids to play: with love. His smile lights up the room and his play lights up Progressive Field. Let’s wind the clock back to October of 2015. Francisco was in attendance watching a Mets /Dodgers playoff game. Within the time frame of the game Lindor began to envision his quest and ultimately his goal: to win a championship.
Lindor burst on to the scene in June of 2015. He finished the 2015 season with a .313 batting average, 12 home runs, 51 RBI, 12 stolen bases and 22 doubles in 99 games for the Indians. He would also finish 2nd in the AL Rookie of the Year Award voting. Fans began to take notice to the amount of energy and enjoyment he brought to the clubhouse and the field. The Indians have had a winning record since Lindor was brought up. His glove work is drawing some comparisons to the great Omar Vizquel.
In 2016, Lindor would continue to elevate his game to new heights. Lindor would make his first all-star appearance, finish in the top 10 in just about every single defensive category, hit .301 with 15 home runs, 78 RBI, and 99 runs in 158 games. As much as Lindor was filling the stat sheet, himself, along with his teammates had their eyes set on the bigger prize.
The Indians would capture their first division crown since 2007. In the first round of the playoffs Lindor and the tribe would sweep the heavily favored Red Sox. In game one of that series Lindor would cap off the signature moment of the series when he along with Roberto Perez and Jason Kipnis all homered simultaneously off the eventual Cy Young winner Rick Porcello. Lindor did not have a great series having only 3 hits in 12 AB.
Then came the ALCS and the Toronto Blue Jays. Lindor again would come through with his bat. Game One, bottom of the 6th Lindor would launch a two run homer giving the tribe the lead and eventually the win. Lindor would go on to have a solid series hitting .368 with 7 hits including that huge game one homer. The Indians would go on to defeat the Blue Jays in 5 games to capture their first AL pennant since 97′.
Now that Lindor was closer to seeing his goal coming true, standing in his way was his close friend and fellow Puerto Rican native Javier Baez and the Chicago Cubs. Lindor would again come up big in game one as he totaled 3 hits and the Indians would blank the Cubs 6-0. We all know what followed, the Indians would build a 3-1 lead only to see the Cubs comeback and win a thrilling game 7 for the ages. Though Lindor and the tribe would fall short, they’re now understanding what it will take to win it all.
Lindor will continue to be a major centerpiece for the Indians franchise. For years it seemed like the Indians had been missing something. Yes, one of those was a right handed power hitter. Enter Edwin Encarnacion. But really, the Indians had been missing that one player that could help inject life to not only the team but to a fan base. Ladies and gentlemen I submit to you that one man: Francisco Lindor.