Nothing that Francisco Lindor did during Wednesday’s 10-2 blowout, which completed the Mets’ three-game sweep of the Reds, should be all that shocking by now.
Lindor scored a run for his 13th consecutive game, hustling home on Jeff McNeil’s first-inning sacrifice fly, to match David Wright’s franchise mark. In his next at-bat, Lindor slapped a two-run single that increased his RBI total to 81, already tying Jose Reyes for the Mets’ shortstop season record -- in only his 111th game (Reyes needed 153).
Wright, Reyes. These are not some random names in Mets’ history. They represent two of the most dynamic players to ever suit up in Flushing, and Lindor is quickly pulling up alongside them in Year Two of his Mets’ tenure.
“Whenever you do something cool, it’s a blessing,” Lindor said. “Being next to Reyes, somebody I grew up watching, it’s great. But I’m here to try and win the World Series. That’s all I have in mind. Along the way, things like this are going to happen.”
The key to that, in Lindor’s view, is being on the field. Like, always. So let’s go back for a minute to the one thing Wednesday that was a little surprising to see from Lindor -- letting Buck Showalter put him on the bench for a breather, even for just a half-inning at the end of a lopsided victory over a demoralized foe.
“That was a fight,” Showalter said afterward. “He likes to go through the [handshake] line.”
Actually, the manager wanted to remove Lindor in the seventh, since they had the luxury to give him a blow, but he’s not wired that way. If Lindor is going to be the greatest shortstop in Mets’ history -- and that certainly was the expectation in these parts when he signed that 10-year, $341-million extension -- the foundation of that is staying in the lineup, every day, or as close to that as humanly possible.
It’s something that Lindor takes very seriously. He’s played in 111 of the Mets’ 112 games, only missing a June 2 loss to Dodgers due to slamming a finger in his hotel-room door in Los Angeles. While Showalter checks with Lindor frequently about his physical status, and an army of analysts chart his daily exertion by every statistical measure, the shortstop plows through -- without any dip in production.
During his current 18-game on-base streak, dating to July 23, Lindor is hitting .409 (27-for-66) with 20 runs, five doubles, four homers, 15 RBIs and a .475 on-base percentage. Overall, he’s batting .270 with an .813 OPS, and his 4.8 WAR is second only to Atlanta’s Dansby Swanson (4.9) at the position. Lindor is content to take his off days when the whole team does, like Thursday, and that’s pretty much it.
“I came to New York to play baseball,” Lindor said. “That’s part of my job description -- come out and play baseball games at the highest level I can play them. As long as the good Lord continues to bless me with health, I’m going to be out there. Buck is out there grinding, the boys are out there grinding, I want to be out there with them. Yeah, I do take a lot of pride coming in, day in and day out, knowing that I want to play.”
Often, pride alone isn’t enough. Reyes, a switch-hitting burner, was hounded by leg injuries that chopped up a few of his seasons in Flushing. Wright’s career was derailed and then ultimately ended by spinal stenosis. To this point, Lindor, 28, has two IL trips on his resume, one in Cleveland (2019) that lasted three weeks due to a right calf strain/left ankle sprain and the other a year ago, when he missed five weeks with an oblique strain.
Lindor should vault over Reyes during this weekend’s series against the Phillies, and with seven weeks still to go, he’ll easily pass his own career high of 92 RBIs from the 2018 season, when he finished sixth in the AL MVP balloting, As for getting mentioned in the same breath as Reyes, Lindor appreciated the benchmark, but made it clear he’s got bigger goals in mind.
That’s what Buck loves about Lindor, a newfound maturity that we didn’t see from the four-time All-Star on the pre-Showalter Mets, and don’t think for a second that the manager doesn’t have a lot to do with this version. By “posting up” every day, as Showalter describes it, Lindor sets an example in the clubhouse. By catching up to this franchise’s icons, Lindor is a game-changer on the scoreboard, which is a big reason why the Mets sit atop the NL East with a comfortable lead.
“To be continued,” Showalter said of Lindor’s accomplishments. “I know he’d sacrifice everything for a chance to be the last team standing.”
For as much as Lindor hates to sit, that couldn’t be better for the Mets.