CLEVELAND (92.3 The Fan) – Since the day he finally arrived in the Major Leagues, Francisco Lindor has said it isn’t about winning awards.
It’s about winning games.
While taking home any postseason honor may never have been his ultimate goal, he awed many in his first taste of big league action. And for his efforts, he impressed enough voters to finish as the runner-up for the American League Rookie of the Year Award, finishing behind Carlos Correa of the Houston Astros.
While he finished short of taking home the hardware, finishing in second place does not take away from the 22-year-old’s impressive debut season in the Majors.
“It’s not disappointing,” he said on a conference call on Monday night. “You’re a little upset because you want to win. I’m not mad. I’m here with my family, my agent, the people I love. You build memories and those stick with you for the rest of your life. I’m just enjoying the ride.”
“I’m happy for [Correa],” he added. “I’m glad the award stays in Puerto Rico.”
Despite not earning the honor — receiving 13 first place votes to Correa’s 17 — Lindor’s recognition was well-deserved.
As a 21-year-old, the switch-hitting shortstop played elite level defense, saving 10 runs defensively, tops among shortstops in the American League despite playing in just 99 games this season. If not for his ineligibility, his case for a Gold Glove would have been as strong as any.
Furthermore, his superb leatherwork in the infield became a catalyst for a big defensive turnaround in Cleveland after his mid-June call up from Triple-A Columbus.
“There were a lot of factors in our defense [improving], but I would say Lindor was the primary one because of the position he plays and the way he played it,” Indians manager Terry Francona said.
However, Lindor’s offense was far more surprising in his rookie season, slashing .313/.353/.482 in 438 plate appearances for the Tribe in 2015. His power was particularly shocking, as the switch-hitter smacked 12 homers and collected 22 doubles and four triples.
His .345 second-half average was third-best in baseball. He was also baseball’s third most valuable in WAR (4.5 via Fangraphs) in the second half, behind just Joey Votto of the Cincinnati Reds and Josh Donaldson of the Toronto Blue Jays.
Overall, he finished first among AL rookies in average (.313) and on-base percentage (.353) and second in hits (122) in 2015.
However, Correa’s power numbers (22 homers, 68 RBI) and the Astros’ Wild Card finish may have swayed voters.
In addition to the 13 first place votes, Lindor received 14 second place votes and two third place votes. One voter left Lindor completely off of their ballot.
“At the end of the year, we didn’t make it to the playoffs,” Lindor said. “I was more bummed out about not making the playoffs than not winning the award. I’m looking forward to next year.”
Sandy Alomar Jr. remains the last member of the Indians to win Rookie of the Year, receiving the honor back in 1990. Other Tribe players to win AL Rookie of the Year include Joe Charboneau in 1980, Chris Chambliss in 1971, and Herb Score in 1955.
C.C. Sabathia also finished as the runner-up to Ichiro Suzuki of the Seattle Mariners in 2001.
“Correa is a special young player,” Francona said. “So is Lindor… [Finishing in 2nd] takes away nothing from how we feel about this kid or how we view his future.”