Deep Impact: Francisco Lindor

Swooning over high upside teenagers can quickly become an obsession for rebuilding fantasy owners. While vigorously checking box scores is far more interesting than watching one’s team struggle, there are two important characteristics to remember about fantasy baseball prospects that one must remember before getting too excited.

Of course, all prospects — even those atop your favorite rankings — have a high failure rate. Adding fantasy baseball into that equation doesn’t help. In most leagues, the massive failure rate is compounded by vastly decreased playing time opportunities which leads to an increase in quality of replacement-level and league-average players.

Today, I’m going to discuss the fantasy outlook of Indian’s shortstop Francisco Lindor. Lindor will have no issue sticking at shortstop. He is a complete defender, mixing great technical skills, a good first step and strong natural instincts. His ETA is 2015 when Asdrubal Cabrera becomes a free agent. Of course, if Cleveland extends Cabrera or decides to trade him in 2014 that could change things drastically.

In a standard 14 team 5X5 league one can expect the average shortstop’s performance to be around .275 (BA)- 70 (R) – 70 (RBI) – 15 (SB) – 15 (HR). As you get into the pre-Tulowitzki elite area, homeruns remain constant but the rest of the categories increase by 10 (or .010). Below is a discussion of how Lindor profiles for each 5X5 statistical category. For each projection I list, “average” is the equivalent of one of the 14-team league average statistics I just mentioned, not the major league average.

Batting Average: Lindor’s approach is surprisingly polished, and that is not even taking into account his age. He works the count, recognizes pitches very well and is rarely fooled. While he may only be in the Midwest League, his selectivity and contact ability bodes well for hitting for high averages at the major league level. There is always a concern that switch hitters develop a preferred handedness but right now Lindor is very talented from both sides of the plate.
Batting Average Projection: Above Average

Runs Scored and Runs Batted In: Runs scored are a product of one’s ability to get on base and the batters behind them whereas Runs Batted In are due in great part to the opportunities created by the hitters getting on base ahead of the batter. Thus, a big part of projecting Lindor’s future performance in these two categories is figuring out the strength of Cleveland’s lineup and where he’ll bat in said lineup. Given baseball’s obsession with leadoff hitters I assume that’s where Lindor will bat. But, he profiles best batting second due to his pop. There is actually very little difference between batting 1st and 2nd for runs scored, however an American League average hitter in the two hole has about 15 more RBI than American League leadoff hitters.
Runs Scored Projection: Above Average
Runs Batted In Projection: Well Below Average

Homeruns: The idea that Lindor projected to have above average homerun power or better probably started after he won a homerun derby before being drafted. Small sample aside, he completely altered his swing in that competition and it is not indicative of his true ability. Still, Lindor has good loft on both his left handed and right handed swings. His bat stays in the zone for a long time and he transfers his weight well for a relatively tiny guy. Also, remember Progressive Field has a very favorable park factor for lefties and he’ll be batting from that side of the plate two thirds of the time.
Homerun Projection: Average

Stolen Bases: Lindor is a fantastic athlete and he’s very fast, but I wouldn’t say he has elite foot speed. I timed him going from home to first in 4.0 seconds, 4.0 and 4.1 from the left side of the plate. Like most of his game his stolen bases are going to be a product of exceptional technique and instincts, not overwhelming tools (think Billy Hamilton). Thus far in the minor leagues he has shown that he is going to be aggressive, already swiping 11 bags and being caught 4 times. Undoubtedly, his aggressive nature bodes well for fantasy owners banking on him putting up big stolen base totals. Of course, one would expect the organization to put the breaks on the young shortstop if his caught stealing numbers get out of hand at higher levels. However, I expect he’ll be a force on the base paths, he’s too smart of a ball player for his decision making to stagnate his running game.
Stolen Base Projection: Above Average

Lindor projects to be strongly in the second tier of shortstops below Troy Tulowitzki. I suspect Starlin Castro will be joining Troy at the top of the shortstop rankings at some point in the near future. Most importantly, Lindor will offer your team a handful of stolen bases above the average shortstop without compromising your team it in other areas.

Print This Post

Formerly of Bullpen Banter, JD can be followed on Twitter.

10 Responses to “Deep Impact: Francisco Lindor”

You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.
  1. LuckyStrikes says:

    This is maybe the single best format for discussing prospects and their impact on fantasy. Great writeup and great layout. I wish all prospect articles were like this.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Oliver says:

      Nice article.
      I’m not so sure that we can estimate his ETA well at this stage, but 2014 seems realistic. Castro outpaced his ETA relative to expectations when he was in low-A, Profar is now at AA, so if Lindor keeps showing that his game is polished enough, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if he was in AA this time next year. Cabrera and Kipnis are holding down the middle infield capably now, but I expect that Cabrera will be moved off short as soon as the Indians brass feel Lindor is ready. Even if Chisenhall’s bat translates to the major leagues, he could be bumped to a corner outfield spot to accomodate Cabrera moving to third. And I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see Cabrera regress or get traded.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

  2. jon says:

    Agreed, very nice format and very helpful. I’ve been trying to figure out a last minor league spot between him and Wil Myers. Anyone want to weigh in with an opinion?

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  3. Tim says:

    Can you say a little more about how you came up with those averages? Are those your own estimates or is there an objective source of such info I’m not aware of? Thanks. Good article.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • JD Sussman says:

      Thanks, Tim. These are my own estimates I created from a widely trusted projection system. I averaged what I felt to be the top 15 SS and cleaned it up with some slight rounding. Honestly, it took all of 5 minutes.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Mike says:

        Why use a projection system instead of top 14 SS performance over the past x number of years?

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • JD Sussman says:

        Mike, first because it was a lot easier. Secondly, the projection system already includes a ton of regression meaning it already includes a lot of past performance in it’s calculations. No matter what I used, there are still issues trying to project the average SS in 2015 given player position movements and changes in individuals’ true talent levels.

        Hopefully this piece gave you a strong enough grasp on who Lindor is as a player that when the projections do end up changing down the line you’ll be able to adjust accordingly.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

  4. Owen G says:

    Factoring in the relative likelihood of the two to stick at SS who would you rather own – Lindor or Profar?

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • JD Sussman says:

      In a bubble I would be shocked if either of them moved off short. Though, Elvis’s presence could make for interesting trade fodder. I don’t want to give a detailed response because I plan on writing up Profar at some point too, but I’ll say the two have some similarities, however it isn’t as simple as choosing one over the other for fantasy purposes.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>