The Mets new shortstop has taken to the bright lights and potential of the Big Apple quickly.
When the New York Mets acquired superstar Francisco Lindor from the Cleveland Indians, fans knew they were getting arguably the best shortstop in the game.
What Lindor has shown since arriving in camp is that he gets it. He’s taking New York by storm, and he hasn’t arrived in the city yet.
Lindor, whose nickname is appropriately “Mr. Smile,” has one of the brightest personalities in Major League Baseball. He comes to New York a player with MVP potential who has also built his own brand — while playing in Cleveland.
On the field
Lindor was available because he can become a free agent at the end of the 2021 season; Cleveland wasn’t going to be able to pay him the king’s ransom his play deserves, so the Mets jumped in and made the bold move to acquire him.
Jon Heyman reported earlier this week that Lindor and the Mets will begin talking long-term contract extension soon. The Mets paid handsomely for Lindor and keeping him is a priority, but the price tag is not going to be cheap.
Lindor is worth it, though.
In all five of his full major league seasons (over 100 games played), Lindor has been a 5.0 WAR player (per Baseball Reference). He’s a four-time All-Star, has won two Gold Glove Awards (and one Platinum Glove), two Silver Slugger Awards and has three top-ten finishes in AL MVP voting.
He’s the real deal, and as complete as any player at his position in the game.
Lindor has also come up big in the postseason. He put together a 1.033 OPS in the 2016 World Series and has hit five career postseason home runs with 12 runs batter in over 25 playoff games.
The Mets were looking to improve defensively and they did that; they also brought in a big-time bat who can carry an offense if needed.
On Friday, Tom Verducci of Sports Illustrated wrote that Lindor is the best shortstop in baseball. He is, and the Mets will benefit in every way on the field from his presence on the roster.
The brand of Lindor
Since he arrived at camp, Lindor has already become the face of Mets merchandising. He showed up one day in a “Coming to America” style Mets jacket and subsequently had a bobblehead made.
Lindor’s brand isn’t just a jacket and bobblehead, however. He has been the face of New Balance for the past few years, and recently launched a new clothing and shoe line. His eye for fashion has been clear since he arrived in the big leagues and being in New York will only provide a bigger stage for him to be himself.
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A good guy
Earlier this week, Lindor donated $1 million to his alma mater in Florida to help kids from his old neighborhood pursue their dreams as he has done so successfully. The donation to the Montverde Academy in Florida isn’t something he did for headlines, but it speaks to the character of the man.
He’s a leader among the incredibly talented group of players from Puerto Rico in the big leagues today. While Yadier Molina is the OG, Lindor regularly holds court when he has the chance. At the 2018 All-Star Game in Washington, D.C., a collection of players from Puerto Rico gathered before the game to chat and take photos. Lindor and Chicago Cubs shortstop Javier Báez were in the middle of every photo and every conversation.
For an organization that’s had a brutal offseason off the field, the Mets could use a little feel good for the PR department. Lindor will give them plenty of those this season and, presumably, into the future.
The face of New York?
So that begs the question: is Lindor’s star the brightest in New York City right now?
Saquon Barkley has a case, but missing the 2020 season with a knee injury and the Giants struggling takes a little away from his case.
Julius Randle has emerged as an All-Star this year for the Knicks. But he, like Lindor, needs to get paid at some point. And he hasn’t done it as long as Lindor has, and will need to build on a strong 2021 campaign to solidify his superstar status.
If we’re going to talk about the Nets, who would we even consider the face of that franchise right now? James Harden just got here, Kevin Durant has spent more time injured than on the court and Kyrie Irving is marvelous.
There isn’t a case to be made for anyone on the Jets. If they trade for Deshaun Watson, the conversation changes. But for now, the Jets remain… the Jets.
On the ice, Artemi Panarin is the most dynamic player on the three teams in the area. At some point, 2020 number one pick Alexis Lafrenière may emerge as the face of the Rangers. And Mathew Barzal should get more attention; he’s a special player. We’ll see if hockey players in the city see an increase in their exposure with the new rights deal the NHL signed with ESPN and Disney.
On the other diamond in the city, the Yankees have some great players. Gerrit Cole is the highest paid baseball player in the city, and he can certainly make a case that he is the face of New York sports right now. As can Aaron Judge, who will be a financial decision for the Yankees soon as well.
But when we talk about the complete package — on-field play and off-field brand — there isn’t a player in New York today that compares to what Lindor brings to the table.