1. Indians SS Francisco Lindor
He’s not just the face of the Cleveland Indians, but no one is more beloved by the town at this moment than Francisco Lindor. Lindor has defined an era of sustained success for the Indians and has easily been the best shortstop since Omar Vizquel. Perhaps he may one day be the best shortstops in Indians history.
If not in all of baseball history.
The future isn’t clear when it comes to Lindor. He’s going to get huge contract offers, and it’s right to take more money if that’s what he values most. Sure, baseball’s entire free agency is broken and contracts never pan out, crippling clubs for years. That’s MLB commissioner Rob Manfred’s problem though, not Lindor.
Unstainable contracts are killing the game and costing fans the most. With all that money out there, if Lindor somehow stays in Cleveland beyond next season, it’ll be as close to a modern miracle as one could get. Which is what the town deserves because Lindor is simply that special.
That’s the thing about Lindor, he is special. Not because his stats at the plate are crazy, because they’re not. Not really. He’s only a .288 career hitter, he’s only topped 90 RBI’s once and while his home run totals are great for a player like him, with more home runs comes more strikeouts. At the batter’s box, he’s a good, maybe great player. He’s not Mike Trout nor is he in Trout’s orbit.
Defensively he’s every bit as good as Vizquel but that’s not why the city loves him. The city loves Lindor because Lindor loves the city. The man more famous for his million-dollar smile than his eventual $30 million dollar play has earned the love of the fanbase by being true to himself. By treating baseball as the game we all grew up loving as kids. Lindor in more than any other athlete on this list reminds us why we love sports.
Because they’re fun.
Lindor brings a youthful exuberance to the game in a way so rarely seen by today’s players. One of baseball’s best overall player is on an even more elite list one of sports best overall people. If Lindor does make his way out of Cleveland before his playing career is done, fans will be upset but only because Lindor is the type of player we wished made up all of our teams. One with passion, love, and respect for the game.