CLEVELAND -- From China to the Dominican Republic and all points in-between, the Cleveland Indians have a dozen players and coaches representing eight different countries in the 2017 World Baseball Classic.
Many of the players will be the Indians’ only representative on their respective teams, but there will be plenty of interest in Puerto Rico, who has three members of the organization -- pitcher Joe Colon, catcher Roberto Perez and shortstop Francisco Lindor -- on the roster.
“It’s going to mean the world,” Lindor told WKYC.com. “I’m so happy. I’m so pumped for it. I’ve been looking forward for this World Baseball Classic forever.”
Francisco Lindor, Roberto Perez proud to represent Puerto Rico in World Baseball Classic
In 2016, his first full season with the Indians, Lindor made the American League All-Star team, led the franchise on its first run to the World Series in 19 years and earned postseason recognition.
At the plate, Lindor batted .301 with 182 hits in 604 at-bats with 99 runs scored and 78 driven in. Lindor smacked 30 doubles, three triples and 15 home runs with 19 stolen bases, a .358 on-base percentage and .435 slugging percentage.
Over 155 regular-season games, Lindor had a .982 fielding percentage. In 674 total chances over 1,365 innings of work, Lindor registered 215 putouts, as well as 447 assists against only 12 errors. Lindor helped turn 83 double plays.
For his efforts in the field, Lindor was honored with his first AL Gold Glove Award.
In the postseason, Lindor hit .310 with 18 hits, three doubles, two home runs and six RBI with five runs scored.
“I wanted it to be in Puerto Rico because I wanted to play in front of the fans in Puerto Rico, but wherever I am, just having that name across my chest, it’s going to be special,” Lindor said. “I’m looking forward to it and can’t wait to shock the world with Team Puerto Rico.”
After a mid-season trade for Jonathan Lucroy fell through when the All-Star backstop rejected the deal in favor of a move from the Milwaukee Brewers to the Texas Rangers, the Indians turned to Roberto Perez on an every-day basis, and he responded well.
Not only did Perez’s bat improve throughout the season and come up big during a couple key spots in the playoffs, but he managed a pitching staff reduced to only two healthy starters through the stretch run to the club’s first Central Division title since 2007 and World Series in two decades.
During 15 postseason games, Perez registered eight hits in 43-at-bats, including one double and three home runs with seven run batted in and five scored with seven walks and a .419 slugging percentage for the American League champions.
“It’s an honor, especially as a catcher,” Perez said. “We have a lot of good catchers in Puerto Rico, so to be able to get elected, it’s just an honor. It’s my first time representing my country.”