Two takeaways from this week's Indians-Rangers series:
1. Both teams will score tons of runs this season. They combined for 35 in the three games at Arlington.
2. Indians shortstop Francisco Lindor looks like he's about to go next-level.
He provided evidence for the latter in the series finale Wednesday night.
Lindor homered from both sides of the plate in the game, including a go-ahead grand slam in the ninth inning. By themselves, those dingers don't create a defining game. The fact those long balls came after Lindor made a big mistake, does.
The inning before his first homer, Lindor committed an error that cost the Indians two runs and the lead. After the game, he called his blunder "inexcusable."
That accountability, on top of hisability to make up for the error, wasn't news to his manager
Lindor "kind of had a vengeance" when he came up in the ninth, Terry Francona told reporters (per MLB.com). "That says a lot about his competitiveness, because I know he was mad at himself."
The national baseball audience saw in last year's postseason that Lindor does not lack competitiveness. He batted .310/.355/.466 with two home runs in 15 games, he showed off his Gold Glove defense, and he was one of the Indians' most vocal players. All at 23 and with just a year and a half in the bigs.
Lindor is already one of the Indians' best players. He's on his way to becoming one of the best in the majors.
Baseball's best young shortstops
Lindor is one of many gifted young shortstops in the major leagues. This collection of 10 players age25 and younger boasts two World Series rings, two Rookie of the Year awards, four All-Star selections, a Gold Glove and dozens of WAR. How they rank, based on 2016 bWAR:
Corey Seager, Dodgers, 23 (6.1): Seager was ready to perform last season after playing in the NLDS in 2015. He put up an .877 OPS (133OPS+) and smacked 26 home runs as LA's everyday shortstop. He snagged the NL Rookie of the Year award and an All-Star berth, and he finished third in the MVP voting. The bar has been set very high.
Carlos Correa, Astros, 22 (6.0): His first full big league season was slightly less impressive than his 2015 AL ROY sample (.811 OPS, down from .857), but Correa was still excellent, as the WAR indicates. Like Seager, he has made the postseason in each of his first two years in the majors. Also like Seager, there's a good chance he'll get back to the playoffs in 2017.
Lindor, 23 (5.7):His fielding was golden last season; he was second in the American League with 17 defensive runs saved, just one behind Angels whiz Andrelton Simmons. The bat plays well, too, although his power suffered in the second half last year (five home runs after the break). His K rate was good (12.9 percent) and his walk rate moved up slightly. The progression will continue.
Addison Russell, Cubs, 23 (4.3): Chicago poached Russell from the A's in the trade that sent Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel to Oakland. He made the deal lopsided in the Cubs' favor with an All-Starseason in 2016 (21 homers, 95 RBIs). He's already one of the top fielding shortstops in the National League; he tied Brandon Crawford for the league lead with 19 defensive runs saved in 2016.
Xander Boagerts, Red Sox, 24 (3.7):He's the grizzled vet of the group in terms of service time. Bogaerts came up in 2013 at age 20 and was a surprise contributor to the Red Sox's World Series championship. Last season he set career highs with 21 home runs and an .802 OPS. This spring he was a mainstay on the Netherlands' World Baseball Classic team.
Trea Turner, Nationals, 23 (3.6 in 73 games): Turner is back at his natural position after a spell as the Nationals' center fielder. He forced his way into Washington's lineup last year with his hitting (.937 OPS, 13 home runs in 324 plate appearances) and lightning speed (33 stolen bases in 39 attempts). He finished second to Seager in the ROY vote.
Trevor Story, Rockies, 24 (3.2 in 97 games): Story would have been right with Seager for NL ROY had he not missed the past two months with a thumb injury. Story matched Seager's 72 RBIs and hit one more home run;Coors factor or not, the counting numbers would have been much higher. Story became an instant hit when he homered in each of his first four big league games and five of his first six.
Tim Anderson, White Sox, 23(2.8 in 99 games): Chicago has already committed to Anderson long term with a six-year contract that includes options for a seventh and eighth season. That means the Sox's first-round pick in 2013 will have the space to hone his game, in particular plate discipline (13 walks, 117 strikeouts in 431 plate appearances last season).
Dansby Swanson, Braves, 23 (0.8 in 38 games): Atlanta took advantage of the Diamondbacks' win-now mentality in the 2015 offseason and pilfered the first overall pick of that year's draft. Swanson was called up in mid-August last year and showed a mature approach. His 11 extra-base hits (three home runs) portended pop. His K rate was high (23.5 percent) and his fielding was spotty (six errors), so he's not a finished product.
Orlando Arcia, Brewers, 22 (minus-0.2 in 55 games): Arcia needs to figure out some things, too, but he is Milwaukee's long-term option atshortstop. His arrival last year pushed breakout star Jonathan Villar to third base and then second base.