Francisco Lindor Is Making His Own Way
Francisco Lindor Is Making His Own Way
For some players, the MLB offseason is an opportunity to rest and recharge before embarking on another long season.
For Francisco Lindor, it’s just another opportunity to get better.
The 24-year-old shortstop has been expanding his game ever since Cleveland made him the No. 8 overall pick in the 2011 draft.
Viewed as a standout defender from the onset of his pro career, he’s been as good as advertised with the glove, racking up 32 DRS and trailing only two other players in overall defensive value among shortstops since arriving in the majors in 2015.
That was all expected.
It’s the progress of his offensive game that has been a pleasant surprise.
While he possessed an advanced approach, good bat-to-ball skills and plus speed throughout his time in the minors, no one envisioned him as a true power threat.
He could have easily carved out a place as a defensive-minded shortstop with modest offensive skills—there’s plenty of room for a player like that in a team’s everyday lineup.
Instead, he burst onto the scene with 12 long balls in 438 plate appearances as a rookie in 2015 after never hitting more than 11 in a season in the minors.
He followed that up with a 15-homer season in 2016, before launching 33 bombs to lead all shortstops this past season.
Simply put, Lindor is changing the game, and he’s doing it in a way that is uniquely his own.
He brings an unmatched combination of skill, style and swagger to the game, and arguably no other player on the planet has more fun when he steps onto the diamond.
It’s this passion, charisma and unconventional approach that is catapulting Lindor into the limelight. It’s also the reason he’s front and center of New Balance’s new brand anthem film—a declaration of Fearless Independence that celebrates those individuals who challenge conventions by carving out their own path in sport, music and culture.
This time of year, players are regularly seen on Instagram getting in some early work at the team’s spring training facility or hitting the weight room hard in preparation for the annual parade of "best shape of my life" storylines.
Lindor also puts in the work, but he’s not afraid to do things a little differently.
Perfect example: He spent part of this offseason in Japan, practicing the martial art of Aikido and immersing himself in the culture.
That experience was in part a family vacation, yet he still found something to take back to the baseball diamond.
"It’s all about balance and keeping in your center body under control, that’s what I want in baseball, that’s what I want when it comes to hitting," Lindor told Bleacher Report of his Aikido lesson. "I never really understood what balance was, but now I know balance comes from your core, from the inside of your body, not from the outside. Everything is centered from the forehead all the way down to my legs and I’ll take that home for sure."
That willingness to think differently, coupled with his rise to stardom, has quickly made him a global ambassador for the game, and that’s not something he takes lightly.
"It means a lot, it shows that my family did a great job of raising this little kid that was wild, that was running around the neighborhood being crazy. They showed me how to be a young adult and also when I became an adult they showed me how to represent the family and represent whoever you surround yourself with. It means a lot to me that New Balance thinks of me as a global ambassador. It’s a dream and I’m humbled by it, I’m blessed to be an ambassador and to be able to bring kids a little bit of joy a little bit of hope. To me that means a lot, that’s something that I’ve always wanted and now I get a chance to do it."
Yet even as he’s become a star, he still brings the same youthful exuberance to the field each and every day.
"I like showing emotions. I like when a player smiles, when a player celebrates…I am human, I’m going to show emotions, I like showing emotion, I like smiling and I like enjoying the game. At the end of the day, it is a game."
For Francisco Lindor, it’s all about becoming the best player he can be and that’s something he treats more like a responsibility than a goal.
"I owe it to the game, I owe it to the people that have helped me throughout my career, throughout my life. I’ve got to work as hard as I can to make sure I become the best player I can be."
If his career trajectory to this point is any indication, he’s just getting started.
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February 15, 2018 at 07:33AM