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Tuesday, June 01, 2021

The Mets’ Francisco Lindor isn’t in a slump. He’s in a three-year slide

It is indisputable that Lindor is in a slump. The big concern for the Mets organization is that he’s been on this slide for three seasons now, which bodes poorly for their long-term investment.

Strikeouts aren’t to blame for the slide. His 16-percent strikeout rate has remained flat for the last four years, including 2021, and he is chasing fewer pitches out of the strike zone than ever before. Pitchers also haven’t changed their approach against him. Lindor is still seeing mostly fastballs with the same ratio of sliders, curveballs and change-ups as he did in previous years. We can also rule out the shift. Lindor sees a shift on 24 percent of his plate appearances as a left-handed hitter this season, more than half what it was in 2020 and 14 percent as a right-handed hitter, half as often as last season.

The problem is a lack of solid contact. Lindor simply isn’t hitting the ball on the sweet spot of the bat (also known as a barrel) as often. Instead, he is producing the lowest barrel rate of his career since his 2016 campaign.

Lindor is topping the ball more, leading to far fewer line drives and more groundballs, easily converted to outs.

 

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: June 01, 2021 at 11:15 AM | 20 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: francisco lindor

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   1. Rough Carrigan Posted: June 01, 2021 at 11:35 AM (#6021799)
There were some of us who thought everyone was being too cavalier in hand waving away his 2020 season. J.D. Martinez has come back as good as ever but Yelich has been hurt and unimpressive, too.
   2. BDC Posted: June 01, 2021 at 12:09 PM (#6021804)
He’s in a three-year slide


In Flushing this is known as a "Baerga."
   3. catomi01 Posted: June 01, 2021 at 12:40 PM (#6021818)
In Flushing this is known as a "Baerga."


Or an Alomar.

Those two (plus Edgardo Alfonzo's post-Met's career really cemented the idea in my head that 2B just age terribly...I know its not really true, but the Baerga to Alfonzo to Alomar run certainly made it seem like it...enough that I was happy they let Murphy go when they did...just in time for the best season of his career.
   4. Darren Posted: June 01, 2021 at 12:48 PM (#6021822)
I wouldn't worry as much about a trend, or slide, as I would about the solid contact issues mentioned. Scary. Not watching it closely but from a far it sure reminds me of the Red Sox getting Carl Crawford and him immediately being nowhere near the player he'd been in the past, despite being under 30.
   5. Howie Menckel Posted: June 01, 2021 at 01:08 PM (#6021826)
it seems to be quite the mechanical issue, rather than the dreaded "hiding an injury."

can be tough to fix in midseason, but if he doesn't thrive in 2021, he'll need to put a lot of time in with a fresh voice in his ear offering advice.
   6. Jose Is An Absurd Balladeer Posted: June 01, 2021 at 01:29 PM (#6021833)
"A three year slide" seems to overstate it to me. He was excellent in 2019, disappointing in a third of a season last year and has been awful in a third of a season this year. As the article points out there is plenty to be concerned about here but it hasn't been going on for three years.
   7. TomH Posted: June 01, 2021 at 02:00 PM (#6021840)
Yeah, 60 games and 46 games do not equal 2 "years" of a so-called 3 year slide.
   8. Barry`s_Lazy_Boy Posted: June 01, 2021 at 02:07 PM (#6021844)
EV:

2016: 89.4
2017: 89.1
2018: 91.4
2019: 91.7
2020: 89.4
2021: 87.5
   9. The Duke Posted: June 01, 2021 at 02:25 PM (#6021845)
Honestly, I thought the Indians would non-tender him. The trade to the Mets was obscured by including Carrasco who had tons of surplus value. I thought $20 million per year for lindor was about right . Obviously the Mets thought it was much more. It’s not looking great but a lot of guys struggle in year 1 of mega deals
   10. GregD Posted: June 01, 2021 at 02:45 PM (#6021848)
Yeah, 60 games and 46 games do not equal 2 "years" of a so-called 3 year slide.
yes, two bad months, a year off, and two bad months. It's not good but it's more like "he's had 2/3 of a bad season--how worried should we be?"
   11. Rough Carrigan Posted: June 01, 2021 at 03:39 PM (#6021858)
Or, you could say "Don't worry, he was excellent two years ago." Saying he's just had 2/3 of a bad season makes it sound like he was playing well the rest of the time. But he wasn't playing at all. He last played really well in 2019.
   12. Walt Davis Posted: June 01, 2021 at 05:46 PM (#6021883)
The JDM and Yelich call-outs are a bit odd. Bryant had a 76 OPS+ in 2020 and Baez cratered to a 61 (2nd worst qualifying OPS+ in MLB). This year Bryant is at 183 and Javy is at a very good for Javy 124.

Villar 64/105. Robles 66/91 (career avg). Altuve 71/127. Y Gurriel 76/148. A Frazier 78/140. Gallo 84/116 (career avg). That's among the bottom 20 OPS+ last year.

Some other big names: Arenado 86/140. Reddick 88/139. Correa 92/133. K Marte 95/147. Muncy 97/178. ... finally, Suarez 98/60.

There must be others but, among the guys who were under 100 OPS+, qualified in 2020 and you ever thought of as a "hitter" has so far bounced back to at least their career average. It was 2 months after 2 months off after an abbreviated spring after 5 months off while some crazy #### was going on in society. Poor 2020 performance doesn't seem to be any more relevant than any 2-month run of poor performance.

As to what's going on with Lindor? Good question. The excerpt mentions GBs but it's not clear that should be a problem. It is a very high 47% this year but it was 44% in 2019 and 48-49% in his first two years and those featured solid offensive performance. A lot at the moment is a 216 BABIP -- weak contact or no, that's crazy low. I'm not big on avg EV but obviously a drop to 87.5 seems concerning (I have no idea how much that varies within season) but his hard-hit % is at his career average.

Now some geek talk. In b-r's "advanced batting" table on a player's main page I've noticed that the sum of a player's (or league average) GB% + LD% + FB% is way short of 100%. For Lindor's career, the MLB average adds up to just 91.5% and his adds up to 92.1%. This sort of thing is true on player after player and it's obviously not bunts. Anybody know what's going on? (And we're two months in and they're still mis-calculating G/F ratio.)

the Red Sox getting Carl Crawford and him immediately being nowhere near the player he'd been in the past, despite being under 30.

In Cub land, we call that a Heyward.
   13. Gotta Say Posted: June 01, 2021 at 06:15 PM (#6021886)
Here in Detroit, when your pitching arm suddenly turns into a cony dog (Lafayette, of course) that's a "Zimmerman."
   14. Rough Carrigan Posted: June 01, 2021 at 07:29 PM (#6021892)
Walt, any chance the other 7-8% are popups?
   15. salvomania Posted: June 01, 2021 at 08:39 PM (#6021898)
I'm pretty sure the missing 8% are so are, as Gotta said, infield or foul popups.
   16. Walt Davis Posted: June 01, 2021 at 09:47 PM (#6021911)
They (and everybody else to my knowledge) have always treated pop-ups as FBs before, see the ratio batting table on the advanced stats page. Further, MLB average (e.g. during Javy Baez's career) IF/FB rates are 12% while average FB rates are 22% and 12% of (1.12*22%) is a tiny number. Possibly it's 12% of FB and LD (which it should be) and that's 12% of (1.12*47.5%) which at least comes out to 6% ... maybe 2-3% are bunts? That seems high.

The main point is that they are using one set of definitions on the main page and a different set of definitions on the "advanced" page for what are both labeled "advanced batting" stats. The hover definitions are the same while the calculation of G/F on the main page is clearly GB/FB not GB/(FB + LD). If you want to seperate out popups (without presenting them) then present the case that it's better then be consistent. If you can make the case that GB/FB is the right way to go, then present that case, fix the hover definition and be consistent. (In fairness, I don't follow the blog so it's possible they have presented such an argument and have just messed up implementation/consistency.)

To save everybody the trouble, in 2020, sac bunts are 0.4% of all PAs ... about one every 7 team-games. (That's all MLB but strangely it's just 0.5% in the NL, about 1 per 5 team-games.) Looks like there are roughly an equal number of non-SH bunts so double those rates. We seem to still have 2-3% of contact PAs missing even if they remove pop-ups and bunts.

   17. Cooper Nielson Posted: June 02, 2021 at 04:57 AM (#6021973)
They (and everybody else to my knowledge) have always treated pop-ups as FBs before, see the ratio batting table on the advanced stats page. Further, MLB average (e.g. during Javy Baez's career) IF/FB rates are 12% while average FB rates are 22% and 12% of (1.12*22%) is a tiny number. Possibly it's 12% of FB and LD (which it should be) and that's 12% of (1.12*47.5%) which at least comes out to 6% ... maybe 2-3% are bunts? That seems high.

Here's something I never thought about before (and don't particularly care about the answer to, just curious): How are hard one-hoppers categorized?

I assume they're groundballs, but they seem more similar in nature to line drives. Is a "groundball" anything that makes contact with the ground in the infield/in front of an infielder? Follow-up question: Would the same batted ball be considered a line drive if the shortstop caught it off his shoetop, but a groundball if it was short-hopped?
   18. Walt Davis Posted: June 02, 2021 at 07:34 PM (#6022192)
#17: I assume at this point that it's anything that hits the ground before the OF grass. But it seems likely (to me at least, far more than likely) that they change these definitions from time to time without much concern with what that does to stats. That's especially true around LDs and FBs but even GBs.

Splits go back to 1988 when teams hit about 220 on GBs. In 1993 that jumped for a few years into the 230s-240s -- that could be legit, all on-contact production took a big jump in 1993-94 and stayed there. Then for 2000-2002, the number of GBs dropped by 8-10% and BAs plummeted to 170, 176 and 151. Then in 2003, the missing GBs came back and BA went back to the 230s-240s where it has stayed ever since. I assume for 2000-2002 they did something like decide it had to hit the ground before the IF dirt ... or possibly they decided it had to hit the ground 2 (3?) times before the OF grass.

Where did those GB go? They seem to have mostly gone to LDs. But something else happened to LDs in those years because, in 1999, there were 785 HRs hit on LDs ... and in 2003 there were 696 ... but for 2000-2002 there were only 7 HRs on LD across the three years, including 0 in 2000. Meanwhile the number of doubles on LDs went from about 4800 to 8300 and the number of triples from 450 to 900. The end result of those hard GBs and wherever all those doubles and triples came from is that BA and SLG on LDs actually went up despite losing all of the HRs. So the number of FBs went down. They oddly decided that doubles and triples on FBs were basically impossible -- zero of either in 2000-2001 then 99/4 in 2002 -- but the number of HRs went up by 700-800. BA on FBs cratered from about 200 to about 130. Then in 2003, they hit virtually the same on FBs as they had hit in 1999 as the trackers seem to have gone back to 1999 definitions.

My all-time favorite split is that, for 1991-92, teams hit about 075 on foul balls. This was a vast improvement on the 010 they had hit from 1988-90 and the 002 they hit from 1993-1999. From 2000 on, no hits on fouls. Who knows. My best guess is that at the beginning, maybe training/documentation wasn't great and some scorers thought they were supposed to split it based on where the ball ended up (double in the corner) rather than where it (would have) landed. Then maybe for 91-92, they decided that everybody should do it based on where it ended up, then they went back but a few folks still messed it up (or just data entry errors more likely) then they finally cleaned it up in 2000, maybe with some post-processing after data received ... 12 years after they started keeping these splits, they decided fouls couldn't be hits (and double/triples couldn't be FBs and HRs couldn't be LDs). Of course what good is a foul territory split informing us that teams so far this year are 0 for 1104 with 4 R/RBI?

Anyway, the whole system changed in 2000-2002 and those splits are so different from other seasons they are essentially useless. In 2013-14 they did something around LDs and FBs again but seem to have left GB alone. In 2012 there were about 430 HRs on LDs; in 2013 it was nearly 1000 then the year after it was over 1300 then nearly 2200. In 2017, they came back down to about 1000 or fewer. But then something odd happened in 2020 because there were more HRs on LDs in that "year" than in 2017 (much less 2018 and 2019) ... this year HRs on LDs are on a pace more similar to 2018-19 (about 800).

If you want to do any "serious" analysis on outcomes by "hit trajectory", you probably need to start after 2002 and add LDs and FBs together.
   19. Cooper Nielson Posted: June 03, 2021 at 08:27 AM (#6022280)
Thanks, Walt, that's really interesting!

Now that they can more accurately measure launch angle, batted-ball velocity, and height, I suppose they could establish specific definitions/parameters of what is a groundball, flyball, (popup), or line drive, regardless of the outcome and the position of the fielders. There would still be debate, but at least it could be applied consistently.

Getting "hits" on foul balls is a very interesting concept. I'm trying to think if there is any way that could happen in real life. I guess maybe if the scorer/recorder is looking at the actual position of the ball rather than what the umpire called. (E.g., the umpire called it fair but replay revealed it was clearly outside the baseline.)

   20. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: June 03, 2021 at 02:19 PM (#6022345)

He's improving a bit. Got his average over the Mendoza line for the time being. I'm trying not to read too much into his early season struggles. Look at Jose Ramirez's first half line in 2019 -- .218 with a .644 OPS. Or look at how Curtis Granderson performed during his first few months with the Mets. Guys have slumps and Lindor's is under more scrutiny because of the trade and new contract.

It makes it easier to ignore his problems given that the team is winning. One driver of that is much-improved team defense and Lindor is a big part of that.

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