PORT ST. LUCIE — Francisco Lindor may be a (smiling) face of baseball, but he is not a fan of the direction in which the game is heading.
The Mets’ new shortstop, who was elected to the executive subcommittee of the MLB Players Association over the offseason, voiced his concerns on Monday that analytics were “taking over the game too much” and diminishing the product.
“Analytics are great, they’re good. But they don’t need to take over the game,” Lindor said after the Mets’ first full-squad workout of spring training. “That’s something that’s just — it’s not right. Let the players play the game.”
Lindor, who also pointed to MLB’s revenue sharing program as “rewarding teams for losing,” was most passionate when asked about the parts of analytics he hated the most.
The four-time All-Star said he was not a fan of the shift and prefers to let his own instincts dictate where he positions himself in the field.
“I get really mad when I miss a ball because they were telling me to move the other way,” Lindor said. “It just drives me nuts. But if it’s my instincts and I go for the ball and I miss it? I’ll die with it. That’s fine.”
Lindor, 27, also took issue with teams removing a pitcher because the analytics say he becomes less effective after a certain point in the game, or pinch hitting based strictly on lefty/righty splits.
“I haven’t been in this position, thank God, but if you take me out in the eighth because I’ve been 0-for-10 against this pitcher and you’re going to take me out and put somebody else in because he’s got two hits against him, that’s just — no. No,” Lindor said. “As an athlete, as a competitor, you want to go out there and you want to beat that guy. He beat you 10 times, I gotta beat him once, at least.
“Heart says a lot and determination says a lot more. Analytics are good, but it’s to a certain extent. Analytics are not helping players get paid, either.”
Lindor, who is in line to get paid with an extension or hit free agency next offseason, now plays for a manager who previously served as a quality control coach and an acting general manager who has a strong background in analytics. But both Luis Rojas and Zack Scott said analytics was just one piece of the puzzle.
“Francisco, with his talent and things he can do on the field, a lot of the guys we have, they know what they can keep or leave,” Rojas said. “You’ve got to use the human element always, use your eyes, and be prepared with the analytics.”
“In general, I’m someone that welcomes any kind of pushback or questioning of anything we’re trying to do to get better,” Scott added. “It creates a better dialogue. Obviously I have an analytical background, so I value analytical work as a tool. I don’t ever think any one thing is the end-all, be-all. … It’s another tool in the toolbox.”