PHILADELPHIA — Francisco Lindor, noted team-first guy, is comfortable admitting in the waning days of a lost season that, yeah, he is awfully interested in reaching a rare personal milestone in the next week and a half.
He is close to becoming just the fourth Mets player to hit 30 home runs, steal 30 bases and collect 30 doubles in a season. With nine games remaining, he is just four homers shy. Lindor checked the steals box by swiping a pair of bags, giving him 30 total, in the Mets’ 5-4 loss to the Phillies on Thursday and reached that mark for doubles a couple of weeks ago.
“I want it,” Lindor, who hasn’t homered since Sept. 5, said. “We’ll see if it happens.”
The Mets haven’t had a player join the 30-30-30 club since David Wright in 2007. The only others to do so in the franchise’s more-than-six-decade history are Howard Johnson (1991 and 1989) and Darryl Strawberry (1987).
For Lindor, the feat would come with an additional cool factor because it would mean joining several of his childhood heroes. Among them was Carlos Beltran, a fellow Puerto Rican and a friend and mentor to Lindor who did it during his huge 2004 split between the Royals and Astros (the prelude to his big contract with the Mets).
And then there was a pair of shortstops: Jimmy Rollins, who accomplished it during his 2007 NL MVP campaign with the Phillies, and Barry Larkin, the Hall of Famer/Reds great whose 30-30-30 season in 1996 was even better than when he was the MVP the year before.
“I always want to put myself in categories where my role models are,” Lindor said. “These guys are guys that I grew up watching. I say, man, I want to be somewhat like them.”
The possible milestone has introduced an interesting dynamic with manager Buck Showalter: A player notoriously stubborn about taking a day off has even more reason to want to stay in the lineup.
Showalter has referenced several times recently his hope to give Ronny Mauricio, a shortstop who has played second and third in the majors, a game or two at his natural position. That hasn’t happened yet. It might not.
“I’d probably cede to Francisco’s wishes on that,” Showalter said. “When you get to this time of year, you’re starting to see the finish line. You look at where things might end up. We all have some goals. That’s something he can be very proud of, as we are.”
The incentive remains.
“There’s a reason to play the game every single day,” Lindor said. “Some days it’s to teach the young players. Some days it’s to accomplish something personally. Some days it’s to prove a point. Every day is to put on a good show for the fans, maybe that one kid who couldn’t go yesterday can come today and he gets to see me play. And every day is to win. So there’s always a reason to play the game.
“Yeah, I do want to accomplish this. It’s something that before the season, I didn’t really think about it. I’ve thought about it a lot the past two weeks.”
That is because, Lindor said, reporters keep asking him about it. Oops.
“It’s in the front lobe of my mind right now,” he said.
Lindor had a shot at 30-30-30 during several seasons with Cleveland, comfortably reaching that figure in homers and especially doubles. He came closest in 2018 but finished with 25 steals.
During those years, he earned down-ballot MVP votes, which may well be the case again this season. He ranks sixth among the NL position players with 5.4 Wins Above Replacement, according to FanGraphs.
“I’m very respectful of what he’s done, which not many people can do,” Showalter said. “He’s going to score probably 100 runs, 90-100 RBIs and be a force for us defensively and be in the running for the Gold Glove. Everybody wants to pick things apart, but we’re lucky to have him.”