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OAKLAND, Calif. — Francisco Lindor’s mission isn’t complete, with the NL East race still undecided and the postseason ahead, but he has every reason these days to enjoy his baseball life.
A year after hearing boos in his home ballpark, Lindor is arguably the best player on the first Mets team to be headed to the playoffs since 2016.
“I would like to finish on the top step, but so far right now we are in a good spot,” Lindor said Friday before going 1-for-5 in a 9-2 series-opening win against the Athletics. “The job is not done and I have been healthy, just thanking God everything is going well. I had the broken finger [in June] and it didn’t keep me from playing so I can’t complain. If I start complaining I am an idiot.”
The shortstop entered play with a .271/.344/.454 slash line, 25 homers and 99 RBIs. Over his previous 14 games, he owned a 1.035 OPS, which included a go-ahead grand slam on Tuesday in Milwaukee that provided the Mets with their winning runs.
Lindor’s durability is also appreciated. He has missed just one game this season, playing a demanding position. But when Lindor evaluates the total picture, he might be most impressed with his overall consistency, having avoided what he considers a prolonged slump. Lindor did endure a production drop-off in June (he had a .617 OPS for the month) after getting his hand caught in sliding doors in a hotel suite and breaking the tip of his right middle finger, but he said that didn’t fall into the realm of a slump.
“People count slumps as 0-for-15 or 0-for-20 or whatever,” Lindor said. “For me a slump is when I go games that I can’t concentrate: I have a plan and approach and as soon as I step in the box I forget it or the game speeds up on me. That is a slump for me.”
Lindor estimates he has endured two or three such slumps this season, but none that lasted more than two games.
“I was like, ‘Damn, I just can’t focus on what I want to do’ and then it goes away,” Lindor said. “I have had those times I am 0-for-10, but those to me are not as concerning as when I can’t mentally focus. Last year, it happened a lot. Life was fast for me. I would step in the box, I would have an approach, have a plan and he throws one pitch and then I am trying to refocus and the next thing I know I am in the dugout.”
Lindor began Friday one RBI from reaching 100 for the first time in his career. He said reaching that plateau would be “cool,” but he’s more impressed with what so many of those RBIs have meant to the Mets.
“What it means for me is the guys in front of me have got on base a lot and I am contributing to the team,” Lindor said. “I would hope that most of my RBIs are game-winning ones or taking the lead ones. I feel like I am helping the team day in and day out.”
Lindor’s success and the Mets’ consistent play all season have allowed the shortstop to walk around his home in Manhattan with his head held higher than previously.
“Where I live, even last year people would say hello and let me walk,” Lindor said. “I think now they are embracing the team more. It’s like, ‘Oh my God, we are having such a good year.’ Where last year was more like, ‘I hope you guys turn it around.’ ”