Francisco Lindor and the 2022 NL MVP Race

Last Updated on August 13, 2022 by Lil Ginge

It’s really a shame for Francisco Lindor that Nolen Arenado is clearly the best player in the National League to date. Because if not for Arenado, Lindor would have a great shot of winning the National League MVP Award in 2022.

A baseball lying on a baseball field.

Lindor has pretty easily been one of the top 5 or 6 best players in the league today. As of this moment, the National League fWAR leaders stand as such:

  1. Nolan Arenado – 6 WAR
  2. Paul Goldschmidt – 5.6 WAR
  3. Francisco Lindor – 5 WAR 
  4. Freddie Freeman – 5.0 WAR
  5. Manny Machado – 4.9 WAR
  6. Dansby Swanson – 4.9 WAR
  7. Mookie Betts – 4.7 WAR
  8. Austin Riley – 4.7 WAR
  9. Trea Turner – 4.3 WAR
  10. Tommy Edman – 3.7 WAR

Of course, fWAR is not an exact measurement of a baseball player’s total value. But, it’s pretty good for a rough estimate. I like to think of it in blocks of roughly 0.5 fWAR. So, to me, a 5.1 fWAR player and a 5.2 fWAR player are having roughly the same season. But a 5.5 fWAR is probably having a better season than a 5.0 fWAR player.

Obviously, quite a few players listed above are having seasons similar to Lindor. And if not for Arenado obviously leading the field, they would all have a good shot at the 2022 National League MVP.

Lindor Is Having a Special Year for the Mets in 2022

But that doesn’t diminish what a special year Lindor is having for the New York Mets. He’s far and away the best player on the team right now. 

Granted, Brandon Nimmo (3.5 WAR), Jeff McNeil (3.5 WAR), Pete Alonso (3.1 WAR) and Max Scherzer (3.1 WAR) are also all having very good seasons. But Lindor is the clear star of the team so far.

Some point to Lindor’s .270 batting average as a knock on his season. But this is rubbish. Batting average in isolation says very little about how a player is performing overall as a hitter. 

A much better metric is wRC+. An average hitter puts up a wRC+ of 100. Lindor’s current wRC+ is 132, good for 14th best in the National League. Here are some other players to compare:

  • Paul Goldschmidt – 188 wRC+
  • Nolan Arenado – 160 wRC+
  • Juan Soto – 154 wRC+
  • Pete Alonso – 149 wRC+
  • Jeff McNeil – 133 wRC+
  • Francisco Lindor – 132 wRC+
  • Starling Marte – 131 wRC+
  • Brandon Nimmo – 126 wRC+

Defense Matters, Too

If baseball was made up of offense alone, Lindor might not be an MVP candidate. But baseball includes defense, and Lindor has easily been one of the ten best defensive players in the National League. And he does it while playing one of the most premium defensive positions, shortstop. 

Francisco Lindor is currently 6th in the defensive component of fWAR, behind Arenado and ahead of Milwaukee’s Willy Adames. But it’s when you combine the stellar offense with the stellar defense of Lindor that you get a truly spectacular player.

The Lindor Contract Is Looking Good

When the Mets traded for Lindor and signed him to a 10-year, $341 million contract, this is the player they bargained for. Still only 28 years old and with 40 fWAR total for his career, Lindor is well on the way to achieving the 60+ fWAR that generally gets you into the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Lindor is also the first shortstop in Mets history to have multiple 20-plus home run seasons.

RBIs are another metric that is a bit old-fashioned because they are largely a function of who bats ahead of you. But even by that old-school metric, Lindor is a beast this year. He is currently tied with Trea Turner for 3rd in RBIs at 81, behind just teammate Pete Alonso (96) and fellow MVP candidate Paul Goldschmidt (84).

Who would have thought that Lindor and Pete Alonso could turn into the National League’s version of Boston’s Manny Ramirez and David Ortiz?

Lindor Loves To Play Baseball… And It Shows

Unlike some other players on the Mets roster (I’m not naming names here), Lindor also plays virtually every day this season.  In fact, he’s played in 111 of the Mets’ 112 games so far. I guess everyone is entitled to one day off? On this very topic, Lindor has said:

I came to New York to play baseball. That’s part of my job description … Buck is out there grinding, the boys are out there grinding, I want to be out there with them. Yeah, I do take a lot of pride coming in day in and day out knowing that I’m going to play.

– Francisco Lindor.

Let’s do a little back-of-the-envelope calculation. Assuming that 1 WAR is generally worth $8 million, a 5-WAR season is worth roughly $40 million. Multiply that by 10, and that’s worth a $ 10-year, $400 million contract. Significantly more than the $341 million the Mets paid him.

Francisco Lindor could potentially turn out to be a bargain if the keeps this up. And that’s a good place for the New York Mets to be.

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