If nothing else, Francisco Lindor’s first 43 games in a Mets uniform have offered an expedited education on his new fan base.
“I think they’re booing because of the results,” Lindor said Saturday. “I don’t think it’s that they don’t like me. I think it’s because of the results, because when I come down to the dugout and I have a baseball in my hands, they all go crazy. It’s the same person that’s booing me.
“I’m starting to understand this.”
In the meantime, Lindor is trying to work even quicker to get his swing back on a consistent basis.
Lindor entered Memorial Day weekend — which often serves as a key mile-marker for the season with enough of a sample size to begin to make judgments — still searching for his groove. He showed hints of finding it from May 6-12, when he hit 8-for-20 with a home run across six games to bring his batting average back over the Mendoza line at .202.
Since then, though, he was 7-for-48, dragging his average back down to .185 to go with an OPS-plus of 60 (league average is 100) entering Saturday’s game against the Braves at Citi Field.
The lack of production, especially at a time when most of the Mets’ other big bats are on the injured list, has brought heavier and more frequent boos down on Lindor. He believes he is making progress in his process, even if the results haven’t followed.
“In order to be successful in life, you got to believe in the process,” Lindor said. “I will say that I wasn’t consistently getting my barrel to the baseball. I was getting there, but I wasn’t staying through the ball how I would like to stay. That was making me not have the success I want to have.”
The statistics back that up. Lindor’s 4.5 barrel percentage ranks in the 20th percentile across MLB, according to Baseball Savant.
When the Mets acquired Lindor and signed him to a 10-year, $341 million extension before he took his first at-bat in their uniform, they envisioned him delivering the results that made him a four-time All-Star in Cleveland from 2016-2019 — when he hit .284 with a 118 OPS-plus while averaging 29.5 home runs per season.
Lindor said he is trying to rediscover the swing he had in those years, but that is easier said than done.
“Hitting is very funny and different because I have tried so bad to imitate myself from 2017 when I started hitting home runs and then imitate myself in 2018,” Lindor said. “And imitating myself, I get it. But it’s really hard to get that feel back. I can’t personally remember what it felt like in 2017. I can try to imitate myself, but I’m not quite there.
“At the end of the day, there’s no excuses. There’s no excuses. I gotta be better for sure.”
While Lindor’s defense at shortstop has been strong and manager Luis Rojas has often spoken about the intangibles he brings to the dugout and clubhouse, the wait for his bat to break out continues.
“That little baseball don’t care how much I got paid, don’t care how much numbers I have put up in the past,” Lindor said. “Definitely the opponent don’t care either. It’s a fun game, hard game and very humbling game. For those people that think the game’s easy, I’d like them to go to the batting cage and try hitting it and see how it goes. But when it comes to my barrel, I’m just trying to get my path correctly. That’s all I can work on.”