CLEVELAND -- It has been a quarter of a century since the Indians had a player take home the American League's Rookie of the Year Award. In less than a week, shortstop Francisco Lindor will find out if his stellar showing this past season was enough to end that drought for Cleveland.
On Tuesday, Lindor was named a finalist for this year's Baseball Writers' Association of America AL Rookie of the Year honor, along with Astros shortstop Carlos Correa and Twins slugger Miguel Sano. The winner will be revealed in an exclusive 6 p.m. ET show on Monday on MLB Network.
Throughout his first season, in which Lindor sparked a second-half turnaround for the Tribe, the young shortstop insisted that winning the annual award was not atop his list of priorities. Lindor's teammates were not shy in pulling for him, though.
"I hope he does win it," Indians outfielder Michael Brantley said. "He deserves it."
"Absolutely," Gomes said. "There's a lot of unbelievable rookies. I think that was the big talk of the whole year, the rookies took over. But, from what he does and what he did this year, it's definitely deserving."
When the Indians promoted the 21-year-old Lindor from Triple-A Columbus on June 14, the team was at a kind of organizational crossroads. Cleveland fought the urge to call Lindor up earlier, but watched its Major League team limp to a 29-32 record. In need of help both offensively and defensively, the Tribe turned to Lindor, handed him the keys to shortstop and watched the Tribe go 52-48 the rest of the way.
In 99 games, Lindor turned in a .313/.353/.482 slash line to go along with 12 homers, 12 steals, 38 extra-base hits, 50 runs scored, 51 RBIs and 122 hits for the Indians. He led AL rookies with 4.6 WAR (per Fangraphs) and led all AL shortstops with 10 Defensive Runs Saved. Lindor became the first Indians rookie to have a season with at least 10 homers, 10 steals, 20 doubles, 100 hits and a .300 average since 1929 (Earl Averill).
Offensively, Lindor spent the bulk of his time in the lineup's second spot between Jason Kipnis and Brantley. In the field, the shortstop turned in a slew of highlight-reel plays, helping shore up a Cleveland defense that was rated as the league's worst just one year earlier. Off the field, his youthful energy was infectious in the dugout and clubhouse.
"This kid is Rookie of the Year," Indians manager Terry Francona said matter-of-factly last month.
Correa also has a compelling case, though, and the young Houston shortstop has already received recognition for his season with one of the AL's two Wild Card winners. Correa was named Sporting News' AL Rookie of the Year last month and he was the recipient of the AL's Most Outstanding Rookie in the Players Choice Awards on Monday night.
"If you take his body of work, it's kind of hard to find somebody who's done better," Francona said. "I know the kid Correa's been really good, but Frankie's been across the board: defensively, offensively, on the bases, power. He's done it all."
In Cleveland's franchise history, the AL Rookie of the Year has been given to four players: Herb Score (1955), Chris Chambliss (1971), Joe Charboneau (1980) and Sandy Alomar Jr. (1990).
Come Monday night, Lindor will learn if he is next on that list.
"It would be an honor," Lindor said at the end of the season. "It would be an amazing feeling, not only for me, but for my family, for Puerto Rico, for the organization, the Cleveland Indians, for the fans here. I thank them for all the support they've been giving me. It made it a lot [more fun] for me throughout the year."