CLEVELAND (92.3 the Fan) – Much can and has been said about Major League Baseball’s apparent lack of star power.
The game’s best player, Mike Trout, is largely unappealing outside of his overwhelmingly impressive performance, not to mention his recent thumb injury that will sideline him for six-to-eight weeks. Young stars like Bryce Harper and Manny Machado have a lot of star power, but the pair are possibly the most volatile players in the game.
Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant moves the needle for some, but there is no doubt that Francisco Lindor is the brightest star in the game. The proof is in the initial all-star voting returns.
Harper has over 900,000 votes both because of his star power and the ability to vote for three outfielders, thus making it easier for him to appear on more ballots. On the other side, Lindor has the highest lead in his league’s position group, leading Houston’s Carlos Correa by just shy of 350,000 votes.
Lindor’s excess votes over perhaps the third most marketable player in the American League are alone enough to lead Miguel Cabrera for the AL’s first base slot.
The on-field spoils are obviously the most determining factor as to why Lindor is emerging as the face of baseball. He is an elite player at an elite position.
And while Harper and Machado are errantly throwing helmets at pitchers and dropping 12 f-bombs in press conferences, Lindor continues to ‘play the game right way,’ as he says. The passion, the emotion and the relatability became notable in the team’s AL Championship run, but then even moreso in Puerto Rico’s run to the World Baseball Classic final.
Lindor’s style of play has caught the attention of many, but the player says he is also concentrated on his legacy from a personal standpoint.
“At the end of the day, people forget what you did. They forget what you did on the field. But they don’t forget the type of person you are,” the 23-year old said. “That’s something that you play for. You play to be remembered as a good person, a good teammate, as someone that impacted the community. Whenever you get a chance to do those things and you go around, it’s pretty cool.”
The exposure for Lindor has not been his alone, as the rest of the Indians have seen a bump up in voting. When the first returns were released in 2016, no Indians were on the list. A year later, the team has a player in the top-five of every infield category, and top-10 in the outfield.
While a large portion is most likely by way of Indians fans, the team success has put the nation on notice, as well.
“We set out to win every day. That’s our No. 1 priority,” Manager Terry Francona said. “But, I’m happy and I’m proud of, whether it’s our fans, which I’m sure are doing some of the damage, and maybe because we played [in the World Series], so people watched our guys and realized they are really good players.”
Francona, the American League manager in the All-Star game, reiterated that he is in the position he is because of the players on the field.
“I didn’t do anything,” he added. “I didn’t hit. I didn’t pitch. They did all this, and I’m going. So, I hope we can take about 10 guys.”