They had acquired him in January, alongside pitcher Carlos Carrasco, in exchange for two young shortstops and a couple of great prospects.
Lindor was, and is, a legitimate star; a two-way talent capable of changing the outcome of a game with his bat and with his glove.
But the first couple of months of the season were rough for him.
He badly struggled in April and May: through those two months, he was hitting .194/.294/.294 with four homers and four stolen bases.
Fans, who were initially ecstatic about Lindor’s arrival, were booing him at Citi Field by early May.
If we consider the season as a whole, Lindor struggled in 2021.
He hit .230/.322/.412 with 20 homers and 10 stolen bases in 125 games.
He was merely an average hitter, with a 103 wRC+ (weighted Runs Created Plus, an offensive metric that measures offensive performance, with 100 being considered average).
His career wRC+ is 117, and his highest mark is 132, in 2018, so clearly, it wasn’t his best year.
From 2017 to 2019, he slugged more than 30 homers each season, so his 2021 output was also a disappointment.
But there are important things to understand about Lindor’s season.
2021 marked the first time he played for a big-market team, with one of the most demanding fan bases in MLB.
He also moved to a new city, with new people, teammates, and surroundings.
Looks like Lindor may have a .900 OPS in September to go along with his Gold Glove defense.
Reeeeeally happy I didn’t give up on him despite a brutal first 2 months on a new team in a new city. https://t.co/IojB3dW1m0
— Clem (@TheClemReport) September 28, 2021
Additionally, his contract extension saga was probably in his head for most of spring training, altering his focus and, therefore, his preparation.
The expectations of playing under a mammoth contract and being the face of a franchise on which he hadn’t played a single game were probably factors, too.
On the field, he wasn’t barreling the ball during those first couple of months (4.9 barrel percentage).
A barrel is the ideal batted ball, according to launch angle and exit velocity, and it leads to much better outcomes.
He made the adjustments and started improving from June on.
Turning His Season Around In Impressive Fashion
From June 1 to the end of the season, Lindor played like his normal self: a 10.4 barrel percentage, a .252/.340/.482 line, 16 home runs, and a 124 wRC+.
Lindor hit .252/.340/.482 (822 OPS) from June 1 onward with Gold Glove defense. That's almost identical to his career line .278/.343/.478 (821 OPS).
Several things are true: (1) he's likely a little better than that, (2) it's not what the Mets paid for, and (3) it's still ok.
— Good Fundies Brian (@OmarMinayaFan) December 14, 2021
He missed several weeks in July and August with an oblique injury, but performance-wise, his second half was positive.
Perhaps he was pressing in April and May, and the peoples’ boos didn’t help.
He was mired in a terrible slump, but after he adjusted and settled in, he started playing like the Lindor we know.
Baseball players aren’t robots, and we can’t just expect them to keep producing at the same rate they have done it during their careers without taking external factors into account.
They often have to deal with pressure, expectations, and other factors that go beyond the diamond.
On the baseball field, he wasn’t making ideal contact.
Outside of it, he may have been adjusting to a whole new city and lifestyle.
Seeing him rebound to his old self after June had to be a relief for Mets fans and members of the front office, because he will likely be in New York for a very long time.