Expectations for Francisco Lindor were astronomically high entering the 2016 season and entirely unwarranted. Sure, Lindor was great during his rookie year but a simple dissection of his numbers turned up one glaring flaw.
The issue: Lindor can’t hit offspeed pitches.
This wasn’t surprising for a 21-year-old rookie who was never known for his bat in the minors. There’s a long list of young hitters who are ready to hit major league fastballs but flail around at the plate at the sight of an offspeed pitch.
These young hitters often thrive immediately, but as pitchers start to figure them out they regress rapidly. Sometimes they eventually figure out how to hit the offspeed stuff, but sometimes they don’t. There are countless examples of players who inexplicably peaked during their first or second season and never found that level of success again (take Ryan Garko as a good Indians example).
Based on this obvious flaw in Lindor’s game I fully expected a sharp decline in 2016.
And I couldn’t have been more wrong.
Lindor clearly is not going to follow the normal progression of a young hitter, as he’s improved by leaps and bounds against the offspeed pitch in just his first full season in the majors.
I’d like to say we should expect that rate to drop because it’s an unsustainable average for even the game’s elite hitters (the league average is just .234, afterall). But I don’t know what to expect from Lindor now.
If he can figure out offspeed pitches in a couple of months over the offseason, what’s next?