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Tuesday, April 24, 2018

2018 FANTASY BASEBALL STOCK WATCH: FRANCISCO LINDOR SS CLEVELAND INDIANS

While still just 24-years-old, Cleveland Indians All-Star shortstop Francisco Lindor has already reached the point of being a consensus superstar top-tier player both in rel-life and in fantasy baseball as the 2018 season got underway.  That is what happens when you come up in 2015 at the age of 21 to hit 12 home runs, steal 12 bases, and bat .313 as a rookie and then follow that up with two more potent campaigns to full place him at the top of the shortstop list for 2018 drafts.  Having been drafted as early as the late first-round, Lindor had very high expectations attached to his name and rightfully so considering the ADP.  Throw in the fact Lindor came off a 2017 season that saw him boost the power to a superstar amount of 33 home runs but for the first time ever, failed to hit .300 as his average dropped to .273.  Blame for the latter though centered on an unlucky .275 BABIP and so there was optimism that Lindor could blend the power gain with the average going back to the .300 level.

Fast forward to present day and Lindor has been a bit of a letdown through a month of the season.  The average is the big issue once again as Lindor is hitting only .224 going into Tuesday's games and he has only 2 home runs which is a decent per game drop from the year prior.  While Lindor is still running (4 steals), the overall package is falling short of what was anticipated.  Trying to figure out if this will change means going into the advanced statistics world and on that front, there is a sense of optimism moving forward.  For one thing, Lindor's 22.3 K/9 is WAY above his typically excellent 12.0 rate in that category and shows a guy who is likely just battling a slump to begin the year.  Lindior is not exactly swinging for the fences either as his flyball rate is down a bit so that is not the main cause for the drop in average.  In addition, Lindor is getting unlucky with the batted ball as his .274 BABIP shows.  Guys with good speed like Lindor don't typically have BABIP's that low and so count on a comeback there real soon.  On the flip side, we did worry that the power uptick a year ago was in outlier territory and so far that looks to be the case.

When you put it all together, Franciso Lindor is too young and too good a hitter to continue residing in his current average range.  It is only a matter of time before Lindor is hitting ropes all over the diamond and getting the average back up to .280 or so.  There is not likely to be a buy low window on such a player like Lindor but those who do own him should remain patient.  Things will be changing for the better and soon. 


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