Francisco Lindor, the Cleveland Indians' charismatic shortstop, is already a veteran of six major league seasons. That makes him, at age 26, the old man among ESPN's four candidates to be the Face of Latino Baseball.
The Indians' Puerto Rican All-Star is also attracts fans daily with an ever-present smile.
With the MLB postseason here and Hispanic Heritage Month underway, ESPN found the timing ideal to tackle one of the bigger debates among one section of baseball's fandom: With so many superstar candidates, which one is most worthy of being labeled the current Face of Latino Baseball?
Our friends at ESPN Deportes and FiveThirtyEight devised a formula -- which is explained here -- using on-field performance, social media popularity, feedback from 30 ESPN analysts and fan votes to get to the answer. The results produced a ballot that stands at four candidates: Lindor, the Atlanta Braves' Ronald Acuna Jr. from Venezuela, and Dominican players Juan Soto of the Washington Nationals and Fernando Tatis Jr. of the San Diego Padres. All are young, charismatic, popular and have enough accomplishments in their short careers to be considered for the honor.
Each day this week, we will present the case for each of the four superstars, with our winner to be revealed Friday. We started Monday with Acuña, and continue today with Lindor.
Since his MLB debut in 2015, Lindor ranks first among all shortstops in WAR (28.4), home runs (138) and extra-base hits, according to ESPN Stats & Information research. He also ranks second in RBIs (411) and runs (508), and fifth in OPS (.835) and slugging (.485), while batting .285. At 26, the native of Caguas has earned four All-Star nods, two Gold Gloves and two Silver Sluggers to go with a World Series appearance in 2016 and a second-place finish in the AL Rookie of the Year voting in 2015.
Social media popularity
Lindor is the third-most popular Latino player on Instagram with more than 767,000 followers. Only fellow Puerto Ricans Javier Baez and Carlos Correa have higher numbers. Lindor has posted 34 times in 2020, generating more than 2.8 million views, the second-highest number for any Latino player behind Correa.
Although Lindor is one of baseball's most popular players, he ranks 10th among Latino stars in average Google Trends index since the start of the 2019 season. With the Indians out of the playoffs in 2019, Lindor missed the usual spike in search popularity for baseball stars during the postseason, and his search index average places him behind other Latino players such as Baez, Yankees shortstop Gleyber Torres and 2019 AL Rookie of the Year Yordan Alvarez.
Lindor, a key player in Puerto Rico's runner-up finish at the most recent World Baseball Classic in 2017, garnered four first-place votes and 16 top-3 votes from our panel of ESPN experts. He appeared on 23 of the 30 ballots.
"Lindor is at a perfect moment in his career," ESPN staff writer Alden Gonzalez said. "Lindor has talent, youth, energy and a magnetic smile. He's the complete package."
Special category: Fan vote
Between Aug. 26-28, you, the fans, had a hand in deciding who should be the Latino Face of Baseball through four tightly contested polls.
Lindor finished last in all of the polls, registering 12% on ESPN Béisbol, 10.7% on ESPN Deportes, 15.6% on ESPN Mexico and 12.6% on SC Español.