If you just saw both Francisco Lindor (65th) and Jason Kipnis (66th) make their appearances in the BBTN 100, you might start off by saying that of course they're two of the 100 best ballplayers in MLB.
But then you'll probably take note of what that means at this early stage of the game: They're not among the top 60. Wait, what? What in the name of Rodney Dangerfield does a top-shelf double-play combo have to do to get some respect?
On first blush, I don't see why both aren't higher. The wisdom of this particular crowd might have discounted Lindor for his recent arrival and Kipnis for his inconsistency from season to season. But considering how good both of them were last year for the Cleveland Indians, this surprises me.
Both delivered 4.6 WAR last season. Lindor did so in fewer than 100 games as he made his big league debut. Among all MLB position players, Lindor and Kipnis were tied (with Xander Bogaerts) in the mid-30s overall in WAR. Now, maybe you can argue this as a reasonable spot for Kipnis -- we'll get to that -- but in Lindor's case, you're talking about a guy who, if he had played a full season, would have had an outside shot of finishing among the top 10 in WAR. Even acknowledging that WAR is a crude sorting tool, that gets me thinking he has been done a disservice, one that will almost certainly be corrected when he satisfies the "show me ... again" crowd.
I flat-out don't understand why Lindor is this low. He finished second in the American League rookie of the year voting last year, narrowly losing to some guy named Carlos Correa. He put up an .835 OPS, second among regular shortstops to ... some guy named Correa. He's just 22, which makes him the second-youngest regular shortstop in the majors, second only to ... some guy named Correa. OK, I think we're seeing a trend.
This isn't to bag on Correa -- who is wonderful -- or cheat and look ahead to where Houston's franchise shortstop is ranked, but I'm a little disappointed that the voting doesn't reflect that Lindor is also one of the best players on the planet right now, a premium bat at the premium defensive position, a guy who hit .313/.353/.482 last season.
As great as Correa is, we shouldn't forget that Lindor is something Correa isn't: one of the best defensive shortstops on the planet. He led all American League regulars in defensive runs saved projected over 162 games. He might lose that bragging right to Andrelton Simmons in 2016, but as good as he is, he also might not.
Among the fun things to contemplate, right now and into the future: Who is better between Lindor and Correa? They are both going to give us reasons to love them. I guess the rational response is this: Boo on the voters! (Oops, that's my ESPN colleagues and I.)
What about Kipnis? Well, his case is a tougher argument to make, considering his performance at the plate has swung first up and then down by more than 100 points in all five of his big league campaigns. In his latest three-year run, he bounced from .818 to .640 to .823 in OPS. The average across those three seasons is .766, and I can't help but think that if he had managed that in each of the three seasons, he might do better in an exercise such as this. In 2014, Kipnis played with a strained oblique most of the year and had a down season statistically. Rushing back from a shoulder injury in August last season contributed to the weak finish that took the edge off what had been his best year yet.
Getting banged up and seeing injuries erode performance is a frequent curse of second basemen, and it's obviously a troubling trend to see Kipnis on the disabled list in consecutive seasons. But not every second baseman has Kipnis' upside when he's healthy: an OPS well north of .800, 40-plus doubles, an OBP of .350 or better. Plus, he is as fierce a fielder on the pivot as you could imagine. Anybody who can have a month like Kipnis did last May -- when he batted .429/.511/.706 -- can be a dominant player if he can stay healthy.
Let's make a prediction: Lindor won't be ranked this low next year, and a healthy Kipnis won't be, either. Put those two together, and you've got a talented tandem whose 2016 season will be critical to the Indians' chances of winning a division title -- and maybe also a little respect in next year's BBTN 100.
Christina Kahrl writes about MLB for ESPN. You can follow her on Twitter.