Friday, February 22, 2013

37 Jays in 37ish Days: Adam Lind and the End of the Line

Adam Lind, in happier times.
Who: Number 26, Adam Lind. Designated hitter/First Baseman. Bats left. Throws left. 29 years old. 6’2”, 210 lbs. One-time Silver Slugger recipient. Whipping boy. Someone to despise.

Provenance: Anderson, Indiana. Drafted by Toronto in the third round of the 2004 amateur draft out of the University of South Alabama.

Contract Status: In the final year of a four-year, $18 million contract. Blue Jays hold options for 2014, 2015 and 2016. It’s hard to imagine those options getting picked up.

Top Line Numbers: .316 OBP, .460 SLG in 2887 plate appearances over 714 games with the Blue Jays. Isolated power of .194, with 117 home runs. Strike out rate of 19.3%, walk rate of 6.7%.

2012 Stats: .314 OBP, .414 slugging in 353 plate appearances over 93 games with the Jays. Demoted to Triple-A Las Vegas on May 17th in favour of Yan Gomes.

Injury History: Missed a month in 2012 with a back strain and a month in 2011 with back spasms.

Looking Back: According to Fangraphs, there are 39 players who are identified at first basemen and who have enough at bats to qualify for rate stats in the years from 2010 through 2012.

Among those players, Adam Lind ranks 39th in on-base percentage (.296). This goes along with a 38th place ranking in wins above replacement (-0.2), 36th in walk rate (6.6%) and 26th in strikeout rate (20.7%).

Regardless of who was in his ear, or how confused he became when asked to hold more than one thought in his head at a time, Adam Lind has been one of the worst first basemen/designated hitters in baseball in the years following his breakout season in 2009.

It’s painful to make a statement like that, because cruelty is not our bag. There aren’t many defenders for Adam Lind left around Toronto, and even those who chose to take up his cause do so with the most vague and tepid arguments in his favour. The notion being that if he’s healthy and locked in, he’ll be okayish again. Sorta. Maybe.

Lind has had moments where he tore up the league, although even those are deceiving. People will point to his return to the lineup in June of 2011, when he was the hottest hitter in the league, belting seven homers in two weeks. But all seven of those homers came against the Orioles and the Royals, two of the weaker pitching teams in the league that year.

Looking Ahead: It seems as though Jays fans have been saying this for years, but this really is the end for Adam Lind. There’s no years left on the contract. Only options left to be bought out now. With a team that takes itself seriously as a contender, it’s hard to imagine them giving a prime spot in their lineup to an underperforming asset.

Is it possible that this time – after all the other times – that Adam Lind finally does something to keep his job? It’s a remote possibility, but his success probably depends as much on how he’s used as on his own performance. Could he be passable as a platoon DH who doesn’t face lefties and hits further down in the order? It’s possible, but to call that success is to grade on a generous curve.

Last year at this time, the assessment of Lind in this preview series was thus: We hate to say a player is on his last chance, because we pride ourselves on not giving into the impatient hyperbole of fandom. But with a team that should be headed towards a Wild Card playdown within the next two seasons, Lind will either need to assert himself or move on. 

It’s funny how little has changed over the past year. At this point, Lind’s poor performance is a perpetual problem for the franchise, and one that has become a tiresome point of discussion.

There’s only so much tar and so many feathers.

Pessimistically: Maintains the same level of performance as in recent years, while injuries to other key hitters magnify his role in the offense.

Optimistically: Holds his own in a platoon role. Posts an OBP above .330 and slugs .500 while being shielded from left-handed pitchers.


MK Piatkowski said...

I like the dude. I like that he speaks his mind. I'm hoping he shuts everyone up and has a great year.

stingray said...


Jeff W. said...

There's nothing not to like personally. He's just not very good.

Chad said...

His isolated power number would fall just shy of the "Great" range according to fangraphs.

That's interesting.