NEW YORK — Francisco Lindor, the Mets' $341 million man, is thriving in Year 1 of his 10-year deal and is proving why he was worth the investment.
The All-Star shortstop has been a big reason why the Mets possess the best record in the National League East (73-39).
The team is in the midst of a six-game winning streak and before sweeping the Cincinnati Reds, the Mets beat the surging Atlanta Braves four out of five games. Lindor's fingerprints were all over the series against the Braves, batting .444, with six runs and three RBI.
In the 19 games since the All-Star break, Lindor is batting .386 with 20 runs, 15 RBI and four home runs in that span. Lindor hit .248 in the first half, albeit with 16 home runs and 66 RBI.
The four-time All-Star is rebounding from a miserable 2021 season where he hit a career-low .230 with a .734 OPS, which had some questioning the long-term deal.
Fans can now see the resurgence in Lindor in his second season with the team.
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What they don’t see, however, are the countless times Lindor studies game film on his iPad when no one is around.
"I walked into the dining room looking for somebody the other day around 2:30, 3 o'clock and he had the iPad back in the corner,” said Mets manager Buck Showalter. “You know the true character of a person is what they do when nobody is looking.
"Nobody saw it, but he does that all the time." In Wednesday’s series-sweeping win against the Reds, Lindor went 2-for-3 with two RBI, and his stats etched his name in a few places in Mets history.
His run scored in the first inning continued his 13-game scoring streak, tying the franchise record David Wright set in July 2008 and eclipsing Mookie Betts for the longest run-scoring streak in the MLB this season. Lindor’s second-inning two-run single led to his 81st RBI, which tied Jose Reyes for the most by a Mets shortstop.
Mr. Smile makes fans happy with his production. The play that makes fans grin is forged from the time he spends getting ready.
“He’s a very driven preparer, a great preparer,” Showalter said. If you don’t see him 10 minutes before the game, he’s doing something productive.”
Lindor’s meticulous preparation did not start on Day 1 in the majors. He said he learned the importance of doing the detailed groundwork early in his career from pitcher Andrew Miller during their stint with the Cleveland Guardians.
“I asked him why are you doing it,” Lindor said. “(Miller said) ‘I got to study, I got to prepare myself for me to be the best I can be. I can’t just roll the dice every time I go out there.’ And I took that to heart.”
Another underrated trait of Lindor is his leadership, which has impressed Daniel Vogelbach in only the 15 games he’s played in the blue and orange since he was dealt prior to the trade deadline from the Pittsburgh Pirates.
“The stuff (people) don’t see on the everyday basis is, you know, the way he leads and the leader he is in the clubhouse and the leader he is on the field,” Vogelbach said. “It’s huge for us.
Infielder Luis Guillorme concurred and touted Lindor’s timing.
“He knows when to talk," Guillorme." He knows when to help. He is always willing to help everybody. So I think that's one side that people don't really see.”
Like their manager, they notice Lindor's dedication.
“He's always out there, never takes days off and those are the guys you want to get behind,” Vogelbach said.
For Lindor, there has been an adjustment to coming from Cleveland to a big market.
"It has something to do with that," the shortstop said. "But it’s learning from the guys and the coaching staff, and feeding off the energy that the crowd and everybody brings helps too, so I'm blessed."
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Francisco Lindor's resurgence a big reason behind the Mets' success