Will the $341 million contract the Mets agreed to with shortstop Francisco Lindor be a worthwhile investment by the time it’s done? The answer to that question will probably vary depending on who you ask.
Lindor is under contract with New York through 2031, which will be his age-37 season. That’s a long time from now, so the true verdict of how this contract pans out is yet to be seen. But we can be sure of one thing. The 29-year-old has been among baseball’s best shortstops since his debut in 2015.
And after a rough first year in Queens, he bounced back at an incredible level in 2022.
Comparing Lindor’s first two years with Mets
Lindor managed to post 4.2 fWAR for the Mets in 2021. That happened on the back of Gold Glove-caliber defense and a disappointing overall year at the plate. Through 524 plate appearances, the shortstop slashed .230/.322/.412 with 20 home runs, 63 RBI, 73 runs scored, and 10 steals. There was some good production there, but with a 103 wRC+ for the season, it fell short of expectations.
He flipped the script in 2022, though. Lindor suited up for all but one regular-season game, leading to 706 plate appearances. The shortstop was an anchor in manager Buck Showalter’s lineup, slashing .270/.339/.449 with 26 home runs, 107 RBI, 98 runs scored, and 16 steals. This led to a 127 wRC+. Adding his defense to these numbers produced 6.8 fWAR.
That fWAR was the sixth-best among qualified players last season. It was also the highest among shortstops.
The biggest change between 2021 and 2022
When comparing Lindor’s first two years in Flushing, there are obviously some big differences in some of his counting stats. He still had to produce them, but it’s not crazy to see that happen with nearly 200 more plate appearances.
What is interesting, though, is that Lindor’s triple slash between both years looks more similar than you’d expect. Sure, there were big jumps in batting average and slugging percentage, but his on-base percentage increased by just 17 points.
This is because Lindor performed close to his career norms in 2021 after a horrific two-month stretch to start the year.
Lindor’s numbers after the season’s first two months
The first two months of Lindor’s Mets career might very well be two of the worst months he’s ever had at the plate as a big leaguer.
When he woke up on June 1st, 2021, he probably wanted to go back to bed after taking a peek at his numbers. His first 200 plate appearances produced a .194/.294/.294 line with four homers, 11 RBI, and 22 runs scored. His 70 wRC+ during this time was among the worst in baseball.
From June 1st through the end of the regular season, Lindor performed much more like himself. His final 324 trips to the plate included a .252/.340/.482 line with 16 homers, 52 RBI, 51 runs scored, and a 124 wRC+. It just wasn’t enough to help his overall stats recover from that rough start.
But if we turn to 2022, his first two months were drastically different. Lindor’s first 228 plate appearances this past year resulted in a .260/.346/.444 line with 18 extra-base hits (eight doubles, two triples, eight homers), 42 RBI, and 37 runs scored. This all led to a 127 wRC+.
It laid the foundation for what ended up being a shortstop performance we’ve never seen in Mets history.
There’s an old adage that says, “It’s not how you start, but it’s how you finish.” That’s very true, especially after watching the Mets this past September. But for Lindor, a strong start in 2022 helped him build momentum to make 2021 a distant memory.