Last year at this time, he was coming off a second-place Rookie of the Year finish, with Carlos Correa of the Houston Astros squeaking out the win. Still only 23, Lindor is coming off his first full season in the majors, one featuring his first All-Star appearance, his first Gold Glove and a ninth-place MVP finish.
Even more importantly, he continues to get better, escaping Correa's shadow and making the question of the best young shortstop in the American League a tougher one to answer. The Indians aren't at the top of the division yet, but with slow starts from Edwin Encarnacion, Carlos Santana and much of the rotation, Lindor's blazing April is one of the things keeping the team afloat.
His hits aren't dinky, little, seeing-eye singles either, as Lindor has upped his power game in 2017 to that of the elite players. Just take a look at Statcast's Barrels count, which is a tally of balls hit with the exit velocity and angle to result in a batting average of .500 and 1.500 slugging (and starts at 98 mph exit velocity), early-season standings. The top five for rate include three noted power hitters in Yoenis Cespedes, Freddie Freeman and Khris Davis, a fourth in Eric Thames, who leads the league in homers as he returns from two 40-plus-homer seasons in Korea, and Lindor, the former glove-first shortstop prospect.
Lindor's scorching .351/.415/.684 through Tuesday's games has been significant enough to move his rest-of-season projections. I'm not just talking about the season totals added from the fast start. I'm talking about the actual estimate of his baseline level of play. The ZiPS projection system now projects Lindor to finish the season with 6.2 WAR, up from 5.3 WAR before the season. His OPS projection of .805 for the season is now up to .826 from now until the Indians finish their season.
What does 6.3 WAR mean beyond "That's good"? Only two offensive players in baseball project to finish with more: Mike Trout (8.1) and Josh Donaldson (6.3). That also means that of baseball's bumper crop of absurdly good shortstops, it's Lindor who stands at the front in 2017, ahead of Correa (5.0), Corey Seager (4.4), Brandon Crawford (3.6), Xander Bogaerts (3.2), and Addison Russell (3.0).