Over/Under on Francisco Lindor home runs set at 31.5 in 2021
The most important player that changed teams this MLB offseason wasn’t Trevor Bauer or George Springer, it was Francisco Lindor. The star shortstop of the Cleveland Indians for six seasons was dealt in January to the New York Mets in an apparent cost-cutting move.
Lindor will become a free agent after the 2021 campaign, but contract extension talks with the Mets are still in the nascent stages and will likely be paused during the season. Bettors have often heard of players motivated to earn a big payday in a “contract year,” but oddsmakers apparently don’t believe that Lindor will step up his game.
The posted home run total for “Mr. Smile” this season is 31.5 (with the Under “juiced” at -125), a number he surpassed in three straight seasons prior to the pandemic-shortened 2020. Are the bookmakers right to be bearish on Lindor as he switches leagues, or will he slug his way into the hearts of Mets fans and into a lucrative new contract? Let’s start investigating.
The case for the Over
Lindor joins one of the game’s most productive lineups in 2021. Pitchers will be less likely to work around him with Pete Alonso or Michael Conforto waiting on deck.
Lindor did not enjoy similar company in the lineup with the Indians last season – the Tribe was 25th in runs per game in 2020, with Jose Ramirez the only other reliable source of offense. It goes a long way in explaining Lindor’s drop in production last year (career-low .750 OPS).
“Mr. Smile” has proven to be durable, suiting up for all 60 games last year and playing no fewer than 143 tilts in the four preceding seasons. So his pursuit of 32 home runs is unlikely to be impeded by the injury bug.
The case for the Under
Switching leagues is a little easier these days, with interleague play becoming more frequent than in seasons past. But Lindor will still be subjected to a host of matchups with pitchers he has never faced before.
Additionally, the Mets’ home ballpark – Citi Field – has never been considered a hitter’s haven. It’s become less pitcher-friendly over the years with the fences being gradually moved in, but Lindor was playing in a more hitter-friendly venue at Progressive Field in his first six MLB seasons.
Bettors have seen teams that “win the winter” fail to answer the bell in spring, but that should not be the case with the Mets. The durable Lindor – playing for a new contract – should be a major contributor to one of the best lineups in baseball, and clear 31.5 homers for the fourth time in his career.