It should be fairly obvious by now that the Cleveland Indians have a very special player in shortstop Francisco Lindor.
He’s already the best player on a team that will likely make the post-season, and he’s just 22-years-old, not turning 23 until well after the season is over.
Since getting called up on June 14th a year ago, the switch-hitter has batted .316 with a 825 OPS, and this year, he has an outside shot at a 200 hit season.
We have been advocating since last year (yes, we know that sounds crazy), to sign Lindor to a long term deal to make sure he stays in a Cleveland uniform for a long, long time.
And we mean not just a deal to cover his arbitration seasons and maybe delay his free agency by a year or two. No, we would sign him to a ten year deal, keeping with the franchise through the prime of his career and beyond.
That’s how good we believe this kid is.
Throughout his minor league career, we thought that Lindor could be to the Indians what Derek Jeter was to the New York Yankees, and we’ve seen nothing that has made us change our mind.
Besides his playing ability, and remember, a baseball player’s prime is usually between ages 27 to 29, so he is five years away from that, Lindor’s joy for the game is always evident. His smile and zest for baseball should be marketed not only in Cleveland, but by Major League Baseball.
We also believe that if Lindor would stay for ten more years, he would become the best position player in the history of the Cleveland Indians.
We understand the names that came before, Hall of Fame players who spent the majority of their careers with the Tribe. Names like Nap Lajoie, Tris Speaker, Lou Boudreau, Earl Averill, and those players of recent ilk like Jim Thome, who will be inducted into Cooperstown soon.
Look at the Tribe’s list of all time leaders, and tell me Lindor wouldn’t top all of these lists if he remained healthy and played a total of 12 years here–
Games played: Terry Turner 1619. Lindor played in 241 after last night, and if he played 140 per season, which is probably conservative, he would be at 1641.
Runs: Averill 1154. Lindor has 142 to date with 92 this season.
Hits: Lajoie 2052. Frankie’s next hit is #300, with 170 hits per season, again conservative, the shortstop will be at 2000.
Doubles: Speaker 486. Lindor has 49 right now, and as he gets older and stronger, we can see 40 per year as a norm. Besides, it’s no disgrace to be behind “The Gray Eagle”, who is the all time leader in this category.
RBI’s: Averill 1084. Lindor has 121 for his career, and again as he gets stronger, should be able to start knocking in 80-90 per season.
By the time he would have completed that decade with the Tribe, the only major stats he would likely not be on top of would be home runs (although he would be in the top ten), and stolen bases, because that aspect of the game has been de-emphasized.
We don’t go crazy with superlatives either. Part of the reason Lindor could be the best Tribe player ever would be that the franchise has never really been able to keep great players for an extended period.
Even throughout the golden age of the 1990’s, none of the great players who played at Jacobs Field ever played their entire career in Cleveland.
The front office needs to make a long term deal with Lindor this winter. He is simply worth it, and it would show fans that this ownership is anxious to keep a player like this here for the long haul.
We are seeing the beginning of greatness with Francisco Lindor. Let’s hope we continue to watch for a long time.