Just a few days ago, Mets fans were flying high after yet another sweep of the Philadelphia Phillies, bringing New York’s season-long record to 30-27. But things have come crashing down after getting swept by the Toronto Blue Jays. It looks like shortstop Francisco Lindor got the brunt of the boos from fans at Citi Field this weekend, too.
The Mets were outscored 11-5 over their past three losses. And right when the offense stormed back to tie things up on Sunday, the bullpen gave the lead right back. So, it’s not like Lindor is the only one bringing the team down. But he had an especially rough homestand.
He hit a homer in the series opener against Philly and singled on Sunday. Between those two events, there were no hits to speak of, and lots of strikeouts. Across 24 plate appearances, Lindor slashed .091/.167/.227 with a 33.3% strikeout rate. While his season-long performance has been worth 1.5 fWAR, it’s been accompanied by a .213/.284/.404 line.
So, what’s been going on with the Mets’ shortstop? Here are three areas where he’s struggling quite a bit.
Lindor vs. RHPs
While Lindor is a switch-hitter — which is a huge advantage at the top of any lineup — the results haven’t been there when facing righties.
When stepping in against southpaws, Lindor is hitting .243/.296/.554 with six home runs and 16 RBI in 81 plate appearances. That’s not necessarily the best batting line, but it’s been quite productive, evidenced by a 130 wRC+.
Unfortunately, that’s the scenario with the smaller sample size. In 180 plate appearances against right-handed pitchers, Lindor is slashing .199/.278/.335 with four homers and 24 RBI. His wRC+ in this situation is down at 75.
This is quite different from 2022 when Lindor was actually slightly better as a left-handed hitter (.789 OPS) than he was as a right-handed hitter (.787).
When it’s not a high-leverage situation
If Lindor is hitting with runners on base and in a tight situation, he’s been producing. When that’s not the case, he hasn’t been producing. It actually is that simple.
According to Baseball Reference, Lindor owns a 1.097 OPS in high-leverage situations. That number drops down to .599 in medium-leverage situations and .637 in low-leverage situations.
With runners in scoring position, Lindor has produced a .828 OPS. If he steps to the plate with any runners on base at all, he’s hitting .255/.331/.481 (good for a .812 OPS). When he’s at bat with nobody on base, his triple slash drops down to .178/.243/.341 (a .584 OPS).
Getting a steady diet of breaking pitches
Lindor has seen opposing pitchers toss him a slider at a 19.8% clip. That’s slightly more than what it was in 2022 (17.4%). He’s also seeing curveballs at a 10.4% clip, which is slightly below what it was last year (12.6%).
Unfortunately, the 29-year-old has struggled against both offerings equally in 2023.
Lindor posted a .590 OPS and 77 wRC+ with a 5.5% walk rate and 28.1% strikeout rate against sliders last year. So far this season, those numbers are at .494, 52, 4.6%, and 41.5%, respectively.
He’s historically struggled against sliders, though, so this isn’t necessarily something new (.668 OPS and 88 wRC+ for his career). But if we shift to curveballs, it’s a different story. Lindor posted a .789 OPS and 137 wRC+ against that offering with a 3.0% walk rate and 30.3% strikeout rate last year. In 2023, those numbers are at .436, 32, 8.3%, and 33.3%, respectively.
So, there are plenty of areas for Lindor to improve upon moving forward. It’s great that he’s able to produce in big spots with runners on base, but he’s also clearly in a funk right now. Hopefully, getting a breather on Monday will help him reset before New York’s series in Atlanta.