About 35 years ago, if a shortstop drove in 99 runs and clocked 25 homers, they would be prosecuted as a witch.
That’s exactly what Francisco Lindor has done this season, and with 11 games to go, the Mets’ drink-stirring switch-hitting straw will end the season with even prettier numbers. In 1987, the average MLB shortstop slashed .258/.315/.365 (.680 OPS) with an 80 wrc+, which means that, collectively, shortstops are better than the league average hitter. 20% were worse.
Entering Friday’s series opener in Oakland, Lindor is swinging a .271/.344/.454 slash line (.798 OPS) and a 130 wRC+. With four more RBIs, he would break Carlos Gallen’s single-season record for runs scored by a switch-hitting shortstop. The evolution of the modern, slugging shortstop is one of many changes the game has seen in recent years, and Lindor is perhaps the greatest example of how a guy who hits like a corner outfielder but a middle outfielder. Fields is the most like an infielder. A team can have a valuable type of player.
His partner in the cleanup spot, meanwhile, is the kind of baseball player who’s been around since the days of names like Ruth, Gehrig and friends. Urban Shaker And Lil Stoner. Pete Alonso, the Mets’ six-three, 245-pound first baseman, has a job description. His job is to hurt the baseball every time he comes to the plate. While Alonso has certainly become a much better all-around player during his four years in the big leagues, he isn’t too interested in hitting behind a runner or going from first to third on a single.
Alonso’s job is to provide the pyrotechnics. Home runs, RBI and slugging percentage will always be the cornerstones of his game, and all of those things have held up strongly this season. With 37 long balls, a National League-high 121 RBI and a .507 slugging percentage that puts him in the top 15 among qualified MLB hitters, Alonso is carrying the torch for traditional sluggers. With the help of modern statistics, we also know that Alonso literally has the ability to hit the ball much harder, making him a slugger in the truest sense of the word. Polar Bear’s maximum exit velocity puts him in the 98th percentile among MLB hitters, just behind the ranks of Judge, Stanton and Vlad Jr.
The combination of Lindor and Alonso has been the league’s best in terms of run production. They have already combined for 220 RBI, the most of any duo in the league. While players like Brandon Nimmo and Starling Marte deserve some credit for consistently laying the groundwork for them, Lindor and Alonso have also forged a symbiotic relationship between themselves.
In the third spot in the lineup, Lindor gets plenty of RBI opportunities from Nemo and Marte. But with Alonso hitting behind, pitchers have no choice but to challenge Lindor, or risk giving him a free pass ahead of a dominant power hitter. With more pitches for Lindor to hit there are more chances for Alonso to knock him off.
His obscene power also allows Alonso to drive himself all the time (37 times this season to be exact). But Lindor has been a runner on 26 of Alonso’s 121 RBIs, the most of any Alonso teammate. Having two of the game’s brightest stars back has led to clear benefits for the Mets, though the real beauty of the team lies in the cluster of players around Lindor and Alonso. Steve and Alex Cohen’s money has allowed the Mets to succeed at Team Building 101, which always preaches the value of backing homegrown players with proven outside talent.
The same happened in the starting rotation as the team added Max Scherzer and Chris Bassett to complement Jacob deGrom, as well as in the outfield, where Nimmo — the Mets’ first-round pick in 2011 — was a veteran free agent. It was perfectly fine. Marte and Mark Canha.
But when historians look back at this year’s Mets, after analyzing narrative-driven things like how they restored talent to the organization, they’ll see how Lindor and Alonso were statistically dominant. . Lindor takes the lead. NL shortstop in FanGraphs version of Wins Above Replacement With almost a complete win. His 6.7 is the fastest in the field, while Atlanta’s Dansby Swanson is second with 5.8.
Alonso is in a tight race with Arizona’s Christian Walker for most home runs by an NL first baseman, but Alonso had a perfect year to finish the year as the only player in his position group with 30 homers. Chances are, that’s a slugging percentage north of .500 and a strikeout rate under 20 percent. He’s already hit a home run total, and with a .507 slugging percentage and 19.1 K%, we’re seeing Alonso develop into a complete hitter right before our eyes. His strikeout percentage is at a career low while his line drive percentage is at an all-time high.
It’s not exactly Bash Brothers 2.0, but the Mets should have a similarly charismatic duo in the middle of their order for years to come. To use one of Buck Showalter’s favorite phrases, both have lived up to the hype, and there’s no reason not to believe that both players will wear the blue and orange for the rest of the decade. will be wearing Lindor is already under contract through 2031, and while Alonso is still two seasons away from unrestricted free agency and deserves his hefty salary, the Mets are sure to look for a massive contract extension in the near future. Will come with him.
If the flashy shortstop, the fraternity of starting pitchers, the transcendent closer and the rest of the Mets’ merry band come together to win the whole thing, it will only entice the beloved Galote to stay at first base even longer.