CLEVELAND (92.3 the Fan) – Francisco Lindor is in the middle of the worst, and only, slump of his career. It was something that was almost forecasted by Manager Terry Francona during the shortstop’s early-season power surge.
Even Lindor warned that he is not a power hitter, but as he slowly morphed into one, his numbers reflected it. Now the 23-year old is stuck trying to correct the things that gave him success, but only in a short stretch.
The two-time All-Star is best when he uses the middle of the field frequently, and it is not hard to find evidence. Over Lindor’s 338 games to date, the higher percentage of his balls to the middle of the field in a season, the higher his batting average.
Lindor is carrying the highest season-long pull-percentage of his career at 39.5%, and with that comes the lowest batting average (.252), on-base percentage (.312) and OPS (.773) of his career.
Before the Indians’ 6-2 loss to the Padres on Wednesday night, President Chris Antonetti spoke to the star’s struggles and roadmap to success.
“With Francisco specifically, we’ve talked about him using the middle of the field and focusing on hitting hard line drives up the middle,” Antonetti said. “That’s been one of the cues for his approach. It’s one thing to be able to do that in batting practice, but when things speed up in the game and there are other factors in play, it becomes more difficult to execute. He’s not the first player that has to continue to work on things in an effort to try to get back to how he has performed in the past.”
Things have begun to get back on track as of late as Lindor has begun to square more balls up the middle. In Wednesday’s loss, the shortstop drove in both of the team’s runs with a 3-for-5 night that included two doubles and a single, all sent back up the middle.
“I was happy to just put good swings on the baseball and feel like I was on time,” Lindor said post-game. “I was satisfied with that. That goes a long way, whenever you feel you’re on time and you can do whatever you want with the ball,that helps. Just continue to work. It was one OK day.”
The success in keeping the ball in the middle of the field has been sustained over the past week, sending 38.1% of batted balls up the middle, and going opposite-field with 33.3%.
The overall success has continued to evade him, though, as his average in those seven games was just .267, slightly raising his season average in that stretch.
Antonetti mentioned “line drives up the middle,” and while Lindor has gone up the middle, the line drives are still not there. Just 19% of those batted balls have been liners, with 42.9% being groundballs, despite 42.9% hard contact.