Red Sox Rankings: The Top 5 Shortstops in the AL
Instead of the illustrious Mr. Tulowitzki, the surprising rookie Cleveland Indians shortstop Francisco Lindor gets the nod for the third best shortstop in the American League. The eighth pick in the first round of the 2011 draft, Lindor came on strong in September (.325/.366/.592 batting line), nearly snatching the Rookie of The Year award away from Carlos Correa, losing by just 15 points in the balloting. In the second half of 2015, the slick fielding Puerto Rican posted a strong .345/.386/.544 batting line which nearly won over voters. For the year, in 438 plate appearances, Lindor posted a .313/.353/.482 batting line
Perhaps it was Lindor’s struggles against the Red Sox that kept him under my radar until researching this article. He was just four for 23 against Boston in six games. Of course hitting is only one side of a player’s skills and Lindor’s fielding prowess put him into that third spot for me. Lindor led the American League in Total Zone Runs with 14, a metric comparable to the stat Defensive Runs Saved which is measured against the rest of the major leagues. This was playing in just 99 games in his rookie season. To give an idea of the enormity of that stat, Alex Rodriguez in 1272 career games at shortstop had just 18 Total Zone Runs for his career. Lindor is an elite defender who should be in the discussion for Gold Glove each season.
Another stat that shows Lindor’s importance to his team’s offensive success is his number of sacrifice bunts. Lindor led the league with 13 sacrifice bunts playing for Terry Francona whose time in Boston is not recalled as a time in which that offensive tool was used too often. Given Lindor’s offensive skill, those who hate the bunt certainly cringe at the thought of Lindor giving himself up. Francona has been around long enough to know the best methods for his team, so people will have to trust that he knows what he is doing.
Red Sox fans will see Lindor in Cleveland to open the season on April 4. The Indians come to Fenway for three games from May 20-22.
Next: 4. Troy Tulowitzki