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On Francisco Lindor and his 2016 ZiPS projection

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Ray takes a quick look at Indians shortstop Francisco Lindor and offers his thoughts on his 2016 ZiPS projection.

David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

On Monday, Dan Szymborski published his 2016 ZiPS projections for the Cleveland Indians. Every offseason, Dan publishes his projections for every player on every MLB team, including prospects who aren't expected to see time in the big leagues, including Indians top prospects Bradley Zimmer and Clint Frazier, among others.

ZiPS is optimistic on Indians starters Corey Kluber, Carlos Carrasco and Danny Salazar, and heck, so am I. They are three of the best starting pitchers, not only in the American League, but in all of baseball. In my early Top 50 Starting Pitcher rankings, I ranked Kluber at #19, Salazar at #20 and Carrasco at #23. ZiPS projects all three to put up an fWAR of 3.2 or better, with Kluber pitching to a FIP- of 71, Carrasco pitching to a FIP- of 68 and Salazar pitching to an FIP- of 85, so yeah, they should be amongst the top starting pitchers in the game in 2016.

ZiPS projections for those three starting pitchers did not surprise me, but it's projections for shortstop Francisco Lindor did. Here is what Dan wrote about Lindor in his Indians write up:

Very probably because his club reached the postseason — and because he recorded a number of home runs in support of that particular cause — Houston shortstopCarlos Correa won the American League's rookie of the year award in 2015. By WAR, it wasn't particularly close. Which is to say: by WAR, Cleveland's Francisco Lindor (and not Correa) was pretty clearly the AL's top rookie. ZiPS is less optimistic about Lindor's 2016 campaign, calling for regression in the 22-year-old's plate-discipline and batted-ball numbers. Still, the computer expects Lindor to lead Cleveland's field players in wins.

And, here is ZiPS projections for Lindor for the coming season:

Player

B

Age

PO

PA

R

H

2B

3B

HR

RBI

SB

CS

Francisco Lindor

B

22

SS

679

72

168

28

7

15

68

20

10

Player

PA

BB%

K%

ISO

BABIP

AVG

OBP

SLG

wOBA

Francisco Lindor

679

6.6%

18.1%

.142

.317

.275

.321

.417

.325

Linder is coming off a rookie season where he hit .313-.353-.482 with 12 home runs, 51 runs scored, 50 RBI and 12 stolen bases in just 438 plate appearances. In his 99 games last season, Lindor was exceptional at the plate and in the field putting up an fWAR of 4.6. In 99 games!! His defense alone is probably worth 2-3 fWAR per season, and will help save some runs, and reduce the ERA/FIP of the Indians rotation as a result.

So ZiPS gives Lindor a 72-15-68-20-.275-.321-.417 projection for 2016. Not too shabby. Actually, that's VERY good, especially for a shortstop who we didn't think had much power just a short 12 months ago. Here is how Lindor would rank among all shortstops in 2015 using his 2016 ZiPS projection:

Runs: 6th

HR: tied for 5th

RBI: 6th

SB: 4th

BA: tied for 3rd

OBP: tied for 4th

SLG: 5th

I have reason to be skeptical of ZiPS home run projection for Lindor, as he has never hit for this much power in his minor league career. He has always had the skills to hit for a good average and steal plenty of bases, but we never saw this kind of power from him.

It might be a coincidence, but Lindor has moved ahead of Dodgers shortstop Corey Seager as the third ranked shortstop i the current NFBC ADP rankings. His ADP as of yesterday was 57.55, or a mid fourth round pick. Now Lindor is coming off an excellent 2015 rookie campaign, but I am not sure I would draft him ahead of Seager who will hit for more power, should drive in more runs, may score more runs and very well could hit for a higher average than Lindor.

Or maybe that is me being optimistic on Seager.

That said, I think ZiPS is a little too optimistic on Lindor for 2016, as is his NFBC average draft position. Drafting Lindor as the third or even fourth shortstop off draft boards in March might be a little too much risk for my liking. Don't get me wrong, I like Lindor, but I think the offseason hype machine might be pushing him to levels where he is set up to disappoint his fantasy owners in 2016.

Let's hear what you have to say in the comments below.