When Francisco Lindor was drafted with the eighth-overall pick in 2011, he was seen as a slick-fielding shortstop who could hit for average and steal bases, but wasn’t going to provide much power.
What a difference six years can make.
Lindor homered again on Thursday; a three-run shot off of Parker Birdwell that pushed Cleveland to a 4-1 lead in the fifth, and gave the shortstop 32 homers on the season. Those 32 bombs are more than Lindor had in his previous two seasons combined (32 to 27).
So, how has he done it? Let’s save the juiced baseball jokes for another day, and point to some changes in his swing. He’s added more loft -- not uppercut, but a plane that is more conducive to lifting the baseball -- and he’s also added some strength to help the ball carry. Instead of balls going to the warning track or off the wall, these balls are finding a way over the fence. He’s also involved more of his lower-half, which means the entire body is going into his swing.
The big question is whether or not these kind of power numbers will be carry over; a question that can’t be answered yet definitively, of course. Having said that, he does have a swing of a power hitter, and even if he’s only a 20 to 25 guy instead of 30-plus, it’s more than welcome considering the position he plays.
Lindor is a star, and he’s now a star who can hit for power at a premium position.
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Bryant loves the Drake
It’s odd to say that the reigning MVP is having a quiet .292/.406/.536 season, but you could argue that Kris Bryant is doing just that. Not that the Cubs or Bryant care. In a 3-3 game in the top of the tenth, Bryant crushed a two-run shot off of Oliver Drake to give the Cubs a 5-3 win.
One of the most impressive things about Bryant -- outside of everything -- is just how consistent he’s been. The 25-year-old has finished every month but June with an OPS above .900, and it was .876 in that month. His OPS in the first half, .928. His OPS in the second half, .937. His OPS against lefties, .977. His OPS against righties, .917.
The Cubs haven’t quite lived up to expectations this year, but it has nothing to do with Bryant. He’s one of the best players in all of baseball, but you already knew that.
Cano joins exclusive club on Thursday
The Mariners aren’t going to the postseason again for the 16th straight season, but there was a bit of good news on Thursday when Robinson Cano hit his 300th homer in a 4-2 loss to Texas on Thursday.
Hitting 300 homers may not seem like a huge accomplishment, but it’s rarified air for second baseman. In fact, Cano is just the third player at the position to hit that many, behind Jeff Kent (377) and Rogers Hornsby (301). The position is usually filled by high-contact hitters who are better known for their glove and/or wheels. Cano is that rare second baseman who has shown the ability to hit for average and power, and is likely headed to Cooperstown when it’s all said and done.
Seattle has a lot of issues, but Cano is not one of them. He’s still among the best second baseman in baseball, and he doesn’t appear to be slowing down anytime soon.
National League Quick Hits: Nationals SS Stephen Drew (abdomen) is hopeful he’ll be able to play next week … Braves RHP Mike Foltynewicz (finger) is unlikely to make his scheduled start for Monday. Lucas Sims or Max Fried both are possibilities to take his place in the rotation … Padres OF Jose Pirela (finger) will be shut down for the rest of the season. … Nationals OF Bryce Harper shagged fly balls on Thursday. He could return as soon as next week … Mets RHP Jacob deGrom (flu) had his start pushed back to Sunday. Robert Gsellman will start in Harvey’s place on Friday.
American League Quick Hits: Royals LHP Jason Vargas threw 6 ⅓ scoreless innings in a victory over the Blue Jays. It gives the southpaw 17 win on the season … Carson Fulmer was lifted in the first inning of his start against the Astros on Thursday with a blister on his index finger … Angels OF Mike Trout reached base all four times in Thursday’s loss to the Indians. His OBP is now up to .450, and no American League hitter has had an on-base percentage that high since Manny Ramirez in 2002 … The Rays acquired SS Osmy Gregorio from the Mariners to complete the Ryan Garton and Mike Marjama trade. He hit .220/.288/.331 at two short-season levels.