Tuesday, August 30, 2011

What's Wrong with Adam Lind?

By
Image courtesy of Daylife via Reuters Pictures
At times, he's looked like one of the elite first baseman in the league. There have also been other times he's barely been above replacement level.

As the season nears an end, the Blue Jays appear to have an identity crisis with their first baseman. So which is the real Adam Lind?

It's something I've been racking my brain over the past few days. Aside from the obvious drop off in walks and home runs and skyrocketing strikeout rate, it's difficult to pinpoint exactly what's wrong with Adam Lind.

A few weeks ago, it was fairly easy to see that Jose Bautista's struggles were correlated to him chasing the high fastballs time and again. Adam Lind's issue on the other hand, is a completely different story.

After scouring through all the Pitch F/X data, there were no red flags alerting me to bad habit that Lind has suddenly developed. If anything, since mid-July he's actually done a decent job of not swinging at fastballs high in the zone.

The next option was to check out the percentages from his at-bat results over at Texas Leaguers. Now we're starting to get somewhere; I graphed his at-bat results from April 1st to July 19th, and then from July 20th to August 25th.

Adam Lind At-Bat Results - April 1st to July 19th
Adam Lind At-Bat Results - July 20th to August 25th
One might be concerned with Lind's increased strikeout rate and lack of singles since July 20th, but those don't really concern me. What is a little alarming is Adam Lind is grounding out way more and drawing a lot less walks.

During that span from July 20th to August 25th, Lind has drawn a free pass four times; and two of those were intentional, and one was a hit by pitch ... which means Adam Lind has drawn one walk in 33 games.

It was frustrating to watch Lind again last night because just when it appears he is on the verge of righting the ship after that  two-run home run, he falls back into his old bad habits and strikes out on seven pitches in his final two at-bats.

And all of this is happening while Adam Lind continues to occupy the cleanup spot in the Blue Jays lineup, arguably the most coveted slot on the lineup card. Lind has flourished as well as flounder in the role, and now I think it's time to get him out of that high leverage batting position until he can sort himself out.

I don't think a month-long slump like this is putting into question Adam Lind's future with this team, and yet it certainly has the odd few a little worried about the first base situation ... but by no means is Adam Lind is jeopardy of losing his job.

One interesting theory lobbed out there by avid Jays tweeter @coolhead2010 is that Adam Lind is having a tough time picking up the spin on the breaking ball. Which would explain why it appears all of Lind's strikeouts come on offspeed pitches down and away (otherwise known as Rajai Davis' mantra).

At this point in the season, there's no question we're witnessing Adam Lind at his absolute worst. However, we've also seen him at his best earlier in the year. So where exactly does the real Adam Lind lie? Somewhere in between.

7 comments:

  1. I think we're seeing the real Adam Lind this season, and by that I mean he is and probably always will be an extremely streaky hitter. He's been this way his whole career, and at this point in his career I don't see it changing much.

    When you average it all out, he's an average Major League hitter. And in the A.L East when the teams you have to beat have A Gonz and Big Tex manning first base, is Lind a guy you can compete with? I'm not so sure

    ReplyDelete
  2. Anon, I'm afraid your right - the "real" Adam Lind isn't the 2009 version, nor is it the 2011 version either. I think it's somewhere in between ... probably his 2010 season is the best benchmark to judge from.

    It's tough because the bar for first baseman in the American League (especially the AL East) has been set so high, that anything less than a 30/100 hitter feels like a disappointment.

    ReplyDelete
  3. He'll be fine. He's just been distracted by the impending marriage and birth.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I will toss in another observation.

    During the last series with the Rangers I noticed how many times the Jays hit ground balls up the middle on either side of 2nd base that resulted in outs. On the other side of the coin all of the Rangers hits up the middle went through.

    At the time I thought that Texas must simply be positioned 'better' but it did occur to me that this might be the result of Lind's lack of range at first base. In other words what seemed like a lot of seeing-eye grounders through the middle just out of the reach of HIll and Escobar were, at least in part, a function of the second baseman having to shade towards first base to make up for Lind's limited range.

    If this were to be true then it is probably acceptable if Lind is having success at the plate. If he isn't, however, then the associated 'cost' is greater than one might realize.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I don't think Lind is as good as he was to start the year and as bad as he is right now. The question is twofold:
    1 - can we get enough above average guys in the rest of the line up to compensate for a league average at 1B?
    2 - will Farrell learn from this year and move Lind down in the line up in 2012? As a clean up hitter batting behind Bautista you need more or this team won't compete.

    I think we can get by with #1 with the team we currently have. However we can't get by with Lind as the clean up hitter.

    On an aside, I'm really looking forward to the line up construction for 2012. Making the following BIG assumptions. First the Jays resign Kelly Johnson and that Thames with a young high ceiling arm or 2 are packaged off for a starter.
    We could see:

    CF - Rasmus
    SS - Escobar
    2B - Johnson
    RF - Bautista
    3B - Lawrie
    1B - Lind or ????
    DH - EE
    LF - Snider
    C - Arencibia

    ReplyDelete
  6. Adam Lind is acceptable as a 1st baseman, the way he is now. But, barely.

    Lind remains an asset because of his pretty team-friendly contract. If the Jays were to sign a big name 1B-DH like Ortiz or (dare to dream) Fielder, I think they could get a decent return for him. I postulated as much on my blog, a few weeks ago.

    But otherwise... his OPS and WAR numbers aren't even the equal of Lyle Overbay's.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Anon, it's a lot of one player to take in ... hopefully the impending offseason clears his head a little bit.

    KK, very astute observation - I hadn't event noticed that, but it would definitely explain why all those singles were making it through the infield. I think for the most part, Lind has done an okay job at first. Maybe that's just part of the growing pains of him playing first base.

    Anon, the Yankees and Red Sox lineups are proof that you need as many above-average players as possible to contend. If you look at their lineups, they can produce a very dangerous 1-6 ... and the Blue Jays are almost there. Maybe one more piece or a solid year from Snider would do the trick.

    Robbie, that's the thing about Lind - he might not be the most desirable player out there, but that contract is very attractive to other teams out there, especially with those option years.

    ReplyDelete

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...