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June 19, 2017

Fantasy Freestyle

The Evolution and Decline of Francisco Lindor

by George Bissell


“If Francisco Lindor were your shortstop, he would be perfect.” Emma Baccellieri, Baseball Prospectus 2017 Annual

Hey Frankie. I know this is unexpected, but we need to talk for a minute. You’ve told me a million times that you don’t care about my fantasy team, but I’m not crazy about the changes in your batted-ball profile. In a fantasy landscape bereft of .300 hitters possessing both power and speed, you’ve been an oasis of fantasy goodness. We’ve had some great times. The home runs are fantastic, don’t get me wrong, but there are other shortstops who hit for power. Yes, I’m talking about Carlos Correa. Let’s cut to the chase: your batting average is killing me. Plus, I really like Chris Taylor.

Perhaps no player has undergone a more dramatic transformation this season than Francisco Lindor. Whether intentional or not, the 23-year-old has experienced one of the largest increases in fly-ball rate of any hitter from a year ago. He’s hitting for more power, but it’s come at the expense of his formerly elite batting average, which has the potential to torpedo his fantasy value. Life comes at you fast.

Last month, FanGraphs author Jeff Sullivan concluded a piece regarding Lindor’s ongoing offensive metamorphosis by saying,

“I don’t think that Francisco Lindor is blossoming into a power hitter. To me, that connotes a certain profile, with more whiffs and more jaw-dropping dingers. I think that Lindor is blossoming into a better hitter, a hitter with more power than he used to have. He’s on the Mookie Betts path, making the absolute most of what he is, given his own limitations. I don’t think it would be fair to suggest that Lindor’s becoming another Mike Trout. Rather, he could settle for being the next-best thing.”

At the time Sullivan wrote that piece (May 2), it wasn’t a crazy statement at all. It was justified. Especially considering that Lindor had slugged seven home runs in the first 25 games of the season. Since that post, Cleveland’s franchise cornerstone has hit .232/.292/.419 with six home runs and a pair of steals in 171 plate appearances. Those numbers do not include an 0-for-5 performance Sunday against a dreadful Minnesota pitching staff. Granted, these are arbitrary endpoints, but they illustrate how Lindor’s transition to an emphasis on air balls has caused his on-base skills to crater.

Francisco Lindor offensive comparison (2015-2017)

Year

PA

HR

AVG

OBP

SLG

TAv

BABIP

2015

438

12

.313

.353

.482

.286

.348

2016

684

15

.301

.358

.435

.270

.324

2017

289

13

.256

.319

.488

.260

.254

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Related Content:  Fantasy,  Power,  Speed,  Average

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<< Previous Article
Cheese in the Kitchen:... (06/16)
<< Previous Column
Fantasy Article Fantasy Freestyle: Fig... (06/16)
Next Column >>
Fantasy Article Fantasy Freestyle: Ale... (06/21)
Next Article >>
What You Need to Know:... (06/19)

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