SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (AP) — Francisco Lindor wasn't the franchise-altering shortstop the Mets were hoping for last season.
His performance in this year's shortened spring training has New York confident better days are coming.
The switch-hitting Lindor has been among the best hitters in the Grapefruit League through two weeks of games, hitting .476 with four homers and 10 RBIs through his first 21 at-bats. It's the kind of run that was common when the former Cleveland star made four All-Star teams in a row from 2016-19.
The 28-year-old struggled for big chunks of his first season with the Mets after signing a 10-year, $341 million contract, batting just .230 with 20 homers.
“Life was a little faster for me last year,” Lindor said earlier in spring training. “I tried to give it my best, gave it my best and I just wasn’t as productive as I wanted to be.”
The Mets have sky-high expectations once again in 2022, believing Lindor can be a cornerstone for a lineup that includes slugger Pete Alonso, Jeff McNeil and newly acquired players like Starling Marte and Mark Canha.
Here are a few other players off to a good start as MLB's regular season rapidly approaches on April 7:
David Peralta, OF, Diamondbacks: The veteran has been a steady influence in Arizona's lineup since 2014 but his power has dipped considerably over the past two seasons with 13 homers in a stretch spanning about 700 at-bats. He has four homers in his first 19 spring at-bats in Cactus League play.
Kyle Higashioka, C, Yankees: The sixth-year catcher has slowly worked his way into a bigger role with the Yankees. His ability to hit will probably determine if he ultimately becomes a part-time or full-time option. He showed some pop last year with 10 homers, but hit just .181 in 193 at-bats. He's off to a good start in the Grapefruit League with a .412 average and four homers.
Mickey Moniak, OF, Phillies: It's been a tough road to the big leagues for Moniak, who was the No. 1 overall pick in 2016 but has spent most of the past seven years in the minors. The 23-year-old has a legit chance to earn a spot on Philadelphia's opening day roster, especially after three homers in his first 20 spring at-bats.
Max Scherzer, RHP, Mets: He's now 37 years old but the hard-throwing right hander doesn't show many signs of slowing. New York added the three-time Cy Young winner during the offseason on a three-year, $130 million deal. He's already in midseason form in Grapefruit League play, striking out 12 batters in his first 11 innings while giving up just three earned runs.
Sandy Alcantara, RHP, Marlins: The 26-year-old has quietly been among the better pitchers in the National League for three years. He was one of just four MLB pitchers to throw at least 200 innings last season, finishing with 205 2/3 over 33 starts. He looks ready for another big year after giving up just one hit over his first seven innings in the Grapefruit League.
MacKenzie Gore, LHP, Padres: He just turned 23 and has been among the sport's highest-rated prospects for several years. Now he appears on the verge of breaking into the big leagues, whether it is straight out of spring camp or later this season. He struck out 11 batters through his first nine innings in the Cactus League this spring and has given up just two runs.
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