One year in, Lindor one of best SS in Majors

Talented 22-year-old most proud of his charitable work in Cleveland

One year in, Lindor one of best SS in Majors

KANSAS CITY -- One year ago, Francisco Lindor got the call he had worked his entire life to receive. The Indians shortstop was promoted to the Major Leagues for the first time, and then he tripped over first base in Detroit on the first hit of his career.

"I don't think I'll be as nervous today," Lindor said with a smile before Tuesday's game against the Royals.

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No, Lindor feels much more comfortable these days. He's spent the past year in the big leagues and has embraced the stage he worked so hard to reach. Lindor has developed into a star on the field and an ambassador for the game away from the diamond.

As Lindor reflected on the past 12 months, he said it is that latter role that brings him the most pride. Both at home and on the road, Lindor has teamed with the Indians and Major League Baseball to work with kids.

"Impacting people," Lindor said. "At home, I have the Lindor Smile Squad. The things I'm doing off the field with the R.B.I. programs and with MLB, as well as during the offseason, helping kids back home, going different places, doing different things, that's the thing that I'm most proud of as a person."

As a player, Lindor has ranked among the game's best since joining Cleveland.

Entering Tuesday, only Mike Trout (9.4 WAR, per Fangraphs.com), Manny Machado (8.0), Josh Donaldson (8.0) and Bryce Harper (7.6) had a higher WAR than Lindor (7.3) since he was called up on June 14, 2015. Lindor has also compiled 15 Defensive Runs Saved, which ranks behind only Andrelton Simmons (32), Brandon Crawford (32) and Nick Ahmed (28) among shortstops over the '15-16 seasons.

Over 161 games entering Tuesday, the 22-year-old Lindor had hit .308/.355/.468 with 19 home runs, 34 doubles, five triples, 84 RBIs, 90 runs, 22 stolen bases and 195 hits. He has posted an OPS+ of 117, indicating that he has played 17-percent better than league average offensively.

That is an improvement on Lindor's showing in the Minor Leagues, where he hit .279/.354/.384 over parts of five years before being called up from Triple-A Columbus last season.

Lindor said the Major League environment has brought the best out of him.

"In the Minor Leagues, it's harder to concentrate," Lindor said. "There's not a lot of fans. That's not where you want to be. I'm a guy that hates excuses, but you can make excuses a lot more in the Minor Leagues. Here in the big leagues, this is what you always dreamed of. This is what you wanted. This is what you play for. You play to be in the big leagues and help and win.

"The biggest difference is in the Minor Leagues, they focus a lot on development. In the big leagues, it's all about winning. For me, in order for me to win that day, I have to do everything right. I have to come as close as I can to doing everything right. That takes taking care of the little things. That takes concentration and playing the game the right way.

"I think that's why the big leagues is a whole different level. It's all about winning and everybody is in the same boat -- trying to win. It takes you to a whole different level."

Jordan Bastian has covered the Indians for MLB.com since 2011, and previously covered the Blue Jays from 2006-10. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, follow him on Twitter @MLBastian and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.