CLEVELAND (92.3 the Fan) – It’s déjà vu all over again.
Sure, the Indians won a game, making it 23 of their last 24 – but Francisco Lindor again came up with a huge double off of the mini-monster to left, while hitting left-handed.
Days after becoming the first Indians shortstop to hit 30 home runs in a season, Lindor became the first shortstop in the last 100 years to post 10 straight games with extra base hits.
The 23-year old was unaware of the feat, one which tied Houston’s Alex Bregman for the season high in baseball. It also broke a team mark set by Hal Trosky (9) in 1934, replicated by Sandy Alomar Jr. in 1996-97.
During his stretch of extra-bast hits, Lindor has found a bit of a power alley the opposite way. Since September 7th, Lindor has feasted on pitches where he can extend his hands the other way and drive.
The shortstop’s ISO power numbers from each side of the plate in that stretch corroborate that idea.
Lindor was frank about his approach to his Saturday double, a near carbon copy of his game-tying two-bagger on Thursday.
“It was middle away and I’m doing what a good pitch is telling me to do with it,” he said.
That has not always been the case with Lindor, especially this year. Fending off labels of ‘power-hitter,’ the shortstop fell into a bit of a battle with pulling the ball, which led to a slump.
The reason Lindor fought the title was because of long stretches of poor contact for such hitters, something Manager Terry Francona also predicted should his young star keep on his home run tear.
The homers continued and then so did the drought, as Lindor’s average dropped from .283 to .246 between May 29th and July 4th. In that stretch, Lindor slashed .196/.255/.326 with 12 extra-base hits in 150 plate appearances.
The all-star also pulled 39.7% of his batted balls from Opening Day to Independence Day, and his pull-rate for the entire season is less than a percentage point higher at 40.3%.
For the entirety of the season, that isolated power has come on inside pitches.
Using the entire field is something that Francona has stressed with Lindor all year, and a change that came mid-way through.
“He’s strong enough and he’s got probably 1,500 at-bats under his belt,” the skipper said. “So, he knows the league and he understands situations more. That comes with experience. So he’s still every bit as dangerous. He just also is finding his hits, spraying the ball around.”’
Francona lauded the superstar shortstop’s work ethic, which has both allowed Lindor to set records and kept the manager from removing him from the lineup.
“He’s got a ton of tools, which everybody sees,” Francona added, “and he’s a smart kid. That’s kind of why a couple years ago we were so excited about him getting here. He’s one of the better players around. So many different ways he can impact a game.”
“I keep saying, ‘Frankie needed a day off.’ Nope. And there’s a reason. Before the day games, he goes out and does his agility work on the field and he’s always ready. Not only for the first pitch, but to go nine and to be ready for whatever comes at him. I mean he’s in phenomenal shape right now.”