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Francisco Lindor Wows on October Stage as Indians Pitching Snags ALCS Advantage

When you look up Francisco Lindor's page on, the first thing you notice at the top of the page is his big smile.

The first thing you see at the bottom of the page is what the site calls similarity scores, which is an attempt to match batters statistically to all the others who have played the game.

The two guys most similar to Lindor: Carlos Correa and Corey Seager.

Two of the four guys most similar through age 22: Troy Tulowitzki and Derek Jeter.

You've no doubt heard of all of them. You absolutely should know about Lindor, and you should have known about him a long time before the Cleveland Indians' kid shortstop took center stage in the American League Championship Series on Friday night.

As Pedro Martinez said on TBS a few minutes after the Indians' 2-0 Game 1 win over the Toronto Blue Jays: "He looks like a veteran. He looks poised. Maybe he's too young to realize how good he is."

And maybe there are too many good young shortstops for the rest of us to fully grasp how special Lindor is. At least we all got a look Friday, when his sixth-inning home run off Marco Estrada provided the only runs in a game that went just the way the Indians hoped it would.

They got another outstanding start from Corey Kluber, who kept them from needing Andrew Miller in the fifth inning or even in the sixth. Miller appeared with one out in the seventh and did his thing, striking out five of the six batters he faced and clearing the dangerous middle of the Blue Jays lineup before Cody Allen appeared for the official save.

What really set it up, though, was the Lindor home run. By getting the Indians the lead, Lindor gave manager Terry Francona the freedom to run his bullpen exactly as planned.

The plan worked, and Lindor smiled his way through the postgame interviews.

"It went out," he told MLB Network. "I'm not a power hitter. I wish I was."

He's not a power hitter, but he already has two home runs in four games in this postseason. He's not a power hitter, but he bats third on a team that scored the second-most runs in the AL this season.

Lindor, who won't turn 23 until after the World Series, batted third 152 times this season. That's the most times any player that young has batted third for any playoff team, according to research through's Play Index.

The next two guys on that list: Stan Musial and Joe DiMaggio.

It's far too early to compare Lindor to either of them, but it's perfectly fair to compare him to Correa and Seager. Correa, who is 10 months younger, got the most attention among young shortstops last year (beating out Lindor for American League Rookie of the Year). Seager, five months younger, got the most attention this year.

Seager will get the spotlight back when the National League Championship Series begins Saturday night. With Seager's Los Angeles Dodgers facing the Chicago Cubs, the NLCS will get the prime-time TV slot every night it and the ALCS overlap.

It's nothing new for the Indians, who are plenty used to being overlooked. Despite their great regular season, they finished 28th in major league attendance (ahead of only the Oakland A's and Tampa Bay Rays). They swept the Boston Red Sox in the division series, only to be overshadowed by the end of David Ortiz's career.

They shared the stage only with the Blue Jays on Friday night, and America got to see a lot of what makes them so good.

There's Kluber, one of the most unknown Cy Young Award winners in recent memory. He should be among the favorites again this season. There's Miller, who might be the most important bullpen weapon any team has in this postseason or has had in any recent postseason.

Then there's the lineup, which is deeper than you think and has that 22-year-old shortstop batting third. Yeah, the kid who caught scouts' attention because he seemed to have so much fun playing the game—the kid who keeps right on smiling now.

"I'm happy to be in Cleveland right now," he told MLB Network, flashing that smile one more time.

Cleveland, you can be sure, is happy to have him there.


Danny Knobler covers Major League Baseball as a national columnist for Bleacher Report.

Follow Danny on Twitter and talk baseball.

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