After Winning Gold and Platinum at 22, What Will Be in Store for Lindor at 23?
Bob Toth | On 14, Nov 2016
Francisco Lindor’s magical year as a 22-year-old has come to an end as the Indians super shortstop celebrated his 23rd birthday on Monday.
Given the accolades that he earned in just his second Major League season and his first full one on the Indians roster, the sky may be the limit as the candles blew out on another birthday cake for the electric and enthusiastic face of the Cleveland franchise.
As his final days as a 22-year-old were coming to a close, Major League Baseball and Rawlings announced on Friday night that the Cleveland shortstop had won the Platinum Glove Award as the top defensive player in the American League. He was joined by Chicago Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo, who took home the honor in the senior circuit.
Lindor had been named an AL Gold Glove winner last Monday, the first Indians player to take home the fielding hardware since Grady Sizemore in 2008 and the youngest to win the award at shortstop since Alan Trammell (Detroit) in 1980. He was just the second Indians shortstop to ever win a Gold Glove, joining Omar Vizquel, who won eight of the awards from 1994 to 2001.
Rawlings determines its Platinum Glove winners through defensive metrics created by the Society for American Baseball Research called the SABR’s Defensive Index (SDI) and a tally of fan votes. Lindor was tops among AL shortstops with an 18.5 SDI for the season.
In winning the Platinum Glove, Lindor became the first Indians player and the youngest Major Leaguer to ever be recognized with the award for his defensive play in the field. This year was the sixth season that the award has been given.
Lindor made just 12 errors in 1,364 2/3 innings and 674 chances in 2016, finishing the year with a .982 fielding percentage. It was a positive uptick from his numbers the season before, when he ended his first season in the Majors with a .974 mark with ten errors in 865 1/3 innings. He finished this past season second in the American League in assists, total chances, and defensive runs saved while placing fourth in fielding percentage by a shortstop, games played at short, putouts, and range factor per game.
He joined previous winners Minnie Minoso (1959), Vic Power (1959-1961), Jim Piersall (1961), Vic Davalillo (1964), Ray Fosse (1970-1971), Rick Manning (1976), Sandy Alomar Jr. (1990), Kenny Lofton (1993-1996), Vizquel, Roberto Alomar (1999-2001), Travis Fryman (2000), and Sizemore (2007-2008) as Indians to be honored for their defensive work.
He was also a leader in the Tribe dugout and a star on the field with his work with both the glove and with his bat. He missed just three games all season, logging 158 in total as a 22-year-old who was still one of the youngest players in the game. He topped the .300 mark at the plate for the second consecutive season, hitting .301 after his .313 average in 99 games in 2015. He expectedly established new career highs statistically in his 684 plate appearances as the Indians’ number three hitter, scoring 99 runs, totaling 182 hits (including 30 doubles, three triples, and 15 homers), driving in 78 runs, and stealing 19 bases in 24 attempts. Thirty more walks taken at the plate led to a .358 on-base percentage, five points higher than his mark in 2015. While he had just three sacrifices after leading the AL in the category with 13 in his short debut season, he more than doubled his number of sacrifice flies and was the MLB leader with 15 this past season.
His strong play through the first half (.306/.363/.460) helped him make his first of what will likely be many trips to the All-Star Game.
He ended his first full season just the way any Major Leaguer would dream of – playing deep into October in the postseason. He hit .310 in the playoffs as a whole, including .368 in the ALCS against Toronto with seven hits in the five-game series and .296 in the seven-game World Series that carried on into November, accumulating eight hits and three walks in his 30 trips to the plate.
With a memorable age-22 season under his belt, full of hardware, honors, and unforgettable moments, the young Lindor has set the bar high for himself for the years to come. Indians fans will undoubtedly enjoy the long future that Lindor is destined for in Cleveland as he brings his fire, energy, and ever-present smile back to the top of the lineup while manning a key spot up the middle on the Indians’ diamond.
Photo: Maddie Meyer/Getty Images