It’s February first and in any ordinary year, the enthusiasm for the arrival of pitchers and catchers followed by positional players to Port St. Lucie would be palpable. It is hard to imagine team workouts and Spring Training games under a month away as it still feels like we are in the main part of the off season. With new ownership and an overhauled front office overall excitement couldn’t be much higher, which has only been amplified by the steal-of-the-year trade that has brought Francisco Lindor, an apparent generational-level player, to the Orange and Blue. Guys like Sandy Alderson and Steve Cohen clearly don’t make trades like that for a season; the expectation is to extend Lindor for the long haul. Playing this out, it’s easy to see a contract in the 10-year 300-million-dollar range, which would be a Mets record by a vast amount.

If the Mets make such a move, one thing worth envisioning is Lindor’s career arc as a Met, with the hope of being one of the greatest Mets of all time and serious consideration for entry into the Hall of Fame (HoF). This analysis compares the present career achievements of Lindor with three HoF shortstops that span the range of bWAR, from the lower end (Luis Aparicio, bWAR = 55.9), near average (Ernie Banks, bWAR = 68.2), and at the top end (Robin Yount, bWAR = 77.3); the analysis also looks at a recent inductee (Derek Jeter, bWAR = 70.3). For reference, the average bWAR for HoF shortstops is 67.5 (let’s use 70 bWAR for reference). Lindor presently has a career bWAR of 28.7, or about half-way to Aparicio only 5 full seasons (and whatever we call last season) into his career. It’s not hard to imagine Lindor in Cooperstown wearing a Mets hat, much Like Mike Piazza.

What would Lindor need to accomplish in terms of WAR annually to get to the HoF level over a 10-year duration? The math here is easy. He’s about 40 bWAR from the average HoF shortstop, so over 10 years, from ages 27 to 37, he needs to generate 4 bWAR per year. Aparicio did not achieve this, but Banks and Jeter did, and Yount almost did. Excluding last season and a partial rookie season, Lindor has had better that 5 bWAR. The HoF players studied here did not see drop offs in bWAR until about age 37 or so. Only Banks achieved their maximum bWAR in the 10-year window inclusive of ages 27 through 36. Nonetheless, it seems quite within reach to hit the bWAR level for Cooperstown.

All of the players examined here played in the Show a long time, with an average of a little more than 19 years (Banks played the latter part of his career at 1B, as did Yount who moved to the OF). On top of that, each of these players enjoyed many full seasons of at bats, suggesting that talent merged with good health is critical. Looking at a potential contract for Lindor, it is easy to imagine that a 10-year deal is not out of the order, which would put him at age 37 at the end of the contract. Lindor has a record of being on the field for about 650-750 ABs per season. One thing that places this exercise in some reasonable perspective (despite comparing players across a wide time span where the style of the game has changed) is the average age of entry into the big leagues for this cohort is 20.75 years old; Lindor entered at age 21, suggesting the potential for longevity with other HOFers, and WAR accumulation is in place.

One thing that gets discussed about players in consideration for the Hall is hardware. Presently, Lindor has a pair of Gold Glove (GG) and Silver Slugger (SS) Awards. He’s a four-time All Star, placed a close second to Carlos Correa for Rookie of the Year (RoY), and has placed top 10 for the AL MVP three times. The comparative players all have long track records of awards, and hardware. Aparicio was RoY and accumulated 9 GGs; Banks earned two MVPs and a GG; Yount has two MVPs, three SSs, and a GG; Jeter’s list of hardware is staggering with RoY, 5 GGs, and 5 SSs. At 27 years old, and the prime of his career coming, it is easy to see Lindor needing a more than one case to hold all the trophies. I’ll put hardware in the “can do” column.

The last component I looked at for this comparison was offense. In terms of conventional metrics, Lindor is a career .285 hitter, while getting on base 35% of the time. If he can keep these numbers in place through the prime of his career, they are well within the range for the HoF. Right now, Lindor has an average OPS of .833 for his first 6 seasons, which adjusts to an average OPS+ of 117. Except for the glove-first Aparicio, the HoFers in this study maintained strong OPS+ values into their mid-30s. Banks, Yount, and Jeter all had average OPS+ values of 117 to 122 during the age 27-36 window. Whether Lindor can keep his OPS+ up looks like it will hinge on slugging because his OPB looks to be stabilizing at a bit under .330. Lindor certainly seems capable of delivering on these numbers.

No one knows what the next 10 years holds for Lindor. The Mets are almost certainly evaluating a major deal with him that would be a blockbuster for the team. The math says he is on track to meet HoF-type numbers if he can stay on the field. Would committing 300 million dollars spread over 10 years be a smart move to make? One would hope that such a move would lead to a franchise-altering outcome on par with making the Hall of Fame. Looking over where Lindor is now, the kind of potential he has, “make up” off-the-charts, and what it would take to be in the pantheon of Mets greats, it would be hard to argue against making Lindor a Met for life, and for booking a room at the Otesaga in July of 2035 or 2036.

17 comments on “Is Francisco Lindor on a Hall-of-Fame career trajectory?

  • TexasGusCC

    Gosh he better not be a bust…

    Lindor comes at a time in his career that Beltran came. Hoping the results are similar because Beltran was a beast. But, Beltran had to move out of the middle of the field and Yount became a center fielder at 29, but has the magical 3,142 hits with a .285 average. So, continuing to play a plus plus SS for the second half of the deal is probably unrealistic. I’d make this trade 100 times out of 100, but I’d help my SS as he got older by putting a Hoover at 3B in a few years.

    • ChrisF

      The good news is that if Lindor needed to move off short, say to 2B, Mauricio is on the way in a few years. But lets be honest, I can see Lindor sitcking at SS for at least 6 years, and cant help but wonder with Mauricio’s power and arm strength if he is best suited for 3B. It might be interesting to see if Mauricio and Baty lock horns for seeing who gets the hot corner in a couple years.

      • Steve_S.

        I’m hopeful that Lindor can stay at SS into his late thirties.

        Some other SS greats, who stayed at SS:

        Luis Aparicio 39 years old with a 2.2 dWAR.
        Ozzie Smith 41/0.7
        Cal Ripken Jr. 35/1.4
        Pee Wee Reese 37/1.2

        I saw one estimate on a 12-year, $360 million contract for Lindor! The 12 years brings his average annual salary “down” to $30/million/year.

        • ChrisF

          Yeah, thats in the Mookie Betts territory. Im not sure Lindoor is there (just yet) so came down to 10/300, but I could certianly see 11/330 as a point of discussion. Betts has an MVP, 5 GG, 4 SS – thats rarified air up there. I see potential for Lindor, but thats a bit more than I expect out of him.

          I fully expect Lindor to be at SS for some time, perhaps the length of a 10-year deal, leading to some interesting moves Mauricio, who would be forced to 2nd or 3rd. If Baty sitcks at 3B, then McNeil gets a run at 2B to see if he can lock it down, or play with Mauricio maybe coming right at him for ABs.

          • Steve_S.

            Or maybe the Mets will trade for Alex Bregman.

        • Steve_S.

          And then there was Honus Wagner:

          At 40, his dWAR was 2.0.
          At 41, it was 1.6.

          In the latter year, he was paid $10,000. Today, that would be inflation-adjusted to a mere $260,000.

  • Foxdenizen

    It should be noted with respect to the shortstop comparisons that the sliver slugger award did not start until 1980, after the careers of Aparicio and Banks were over. Banks surely would have won 3 or 4 SS awards, maybe more. Even Aparicio might have one, in the first 1/2 of the 60s when he had all those 50 SB seasons.

    • ChrisF

      good call. All the HoFers in this study were studs to be sure.

  • Wobbit

    If Mauricio is a great SS, he would also be a great 2B, so Baty can assume 3B alongside Lindor. But what are the odds that one of those guys at least gets thrown into a trade for an established big-time player in the next three years? I’d like to see them come all the way up, but the reality is that downsizing teams in smaller markets want future players in exchange for contracted studs… let’s hope the Mets never need to do that… Maybe Mauricio is the CF of the future?

  • Metsense

    This was a convincing article of the value of Lindor and the many upsides of this trade. A HOF caliber 27 year old shortstop is just what this team needs. It would not be surprising that he exceeds the Machado contract of 10/300. That would be a fair market value and be smart move.

  • Wobbit

    It’s nice to know that Lindor will be busting his butt this year to put up numbers and performance to warrant a huge payoff come year’s end. I believe the Mets will be a very nice fit for him, and he may have tremendous influence over the young core of talent… no huge egos, no definitive leader on the field yet, an easy chemistry on the bench… this could be a special year for this franchise.

  • Woodrow

    What cap will he wear?

    • ChrisF

      If he brings 40 bWAR as a Met, and they win a WS or get to a WS, it’ll be wearing a NY hat, like Piazza.

  • NYM6986

    It’s bean a long time since we had a bonafide star on the field who doesn’t pitch. A star attracts other stars so we can add on next year and become a very strong team and not just the good team we currently are but one that’s always counting on a lot of things going our way to succeed. Lindor is now the cornerstone and it almost doesn’t matter what they pay him. You look around the diamond and you can find fault with many players on the team, some who help more with the bat than the glove and visa versa. Planting Lindor at SS becomes your first complete player who helps you on both sides. Conforto has played well and is the closest to another complete player. That I can’t name another complete player on this team means that Lindor is the start of Cohen’s 3-5 year plan. Of course we want it this year with an imperfect team. but let’s watch the foundation being laid for the next three years with better player development and mostly more money to spend any thing and everything. Can’t wait for the season to start.

    • TexasGusCC

      Nimmo in LF, where he belongs?
      Smith at 1B, where he belongs?

      • ChrisF

        I dont see McNeil, Nimmo, or Smith in the same class of star as Lindor. The only Met in that cohort is deGrom. We’ve been so used to seeing crap on the field that anyone who is a legit player looks bigger than they are. Stars, to me, are consistently good. We know when Jake climbs the hill, every night is 10+ Ks, 7+ IP, throwing 100 in the 8th, and a potential no-no. Lindor is a must watch for every ball hit to the left side and every AB. He’s a perennial threat for MVP.

        By comparison, Conforto, who is on the cusp of making the next tier up, has half the accumulated bWAR of Lindor across the same amount of time.

        • Remember1969

          This has been an interesting thread, with particular interest starting with the NYM6986 comment. It begs a deeper dive into what constitutes a perfect team.
          One superstar on a Hall of Fame track? One position player and one pitcher on a Hall of Fame track? All starters on Hall of Fame tracks? I think I’ll try to develop that this week and see if I can come up with a full piece.

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