Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Can Adam Lind Get His Second Wind?


By
Courtesy of Toronto Sun
Believe it or not, there once was a time when Adam Lind was one of the most feared hitters in the American League. But judging by his results over the past few years, you'd never know it; as Adam Lind has been a shell of his former self at the plate.

It's crazy to think the Blue Jays could potentially have Adam Lind locked up through 2016 if the decide to exercise all his options. However, the more likely scenario is Lind may be cast aside when the first opportunity rises for the Blue Jays to decline his first club option.

Statistically speaking, 2012 actually wasn't that awful of a year for Adam Lind. After spending some time back in Triple A and suffering a back injury that sent him to the DL, Lind came with a renewed sense of patience at the plate in the latter part of the season.

Down the stretch, Adam Lind posted a slash line of .302/.341/.447 in his final 35 games of the season. Nearly 73% his hits during that span were singles and only 27% went for extra bases. Those kind of numbers aren't indicative of the prototypical cleanup hitter, but Adam Lind no longer fits the mold as a "big bopper" hitter.

Adam Lind's ability to hit extra bases has steadily declined ever since he peaked in 2009. Last year alone, Lind's extra base hits only accounted for 7.7% of his total hits; a far cry from 2009 when Adam was knocking in doubles, triples and home runs to the tune of 12.4% of the time.

I think any manager would gladly take those kinds of numbers from their number six or seven hitter, which is where Adam Lind projects himself to fit in to this brand new Blue Jays lineup.

In 2012, Adam Lind saw the second most pitches per at bat of his career (3.95) and posted his best on base percentage (.314) since his breakout season of 2009. Not to mention, Lind struck out far less than in previous years as well, in just 17.3% of all his at bats last season.

By all indications, this would seem to be a player who has turned a corner and is on course to get his second wind. So why is he being treated like the red-headed step child of the Blue Jays lineup?

The confusing part is Adam Lind isn't the standard pull or opposite-field hitter; his spray charts are fairly even across the diamond. Even his spray chart from his run in late August and September shows he peppered the field pretty evenly.

Courtesy of Texas Leaguers
In fact, even glancing through Lind's spray charts over the course of his career, he has power to all fields. Although there's no clear hole in the field to where Adam Lind drives the ball, there is definitely a hole in his swing.

As evidenced by his zone charts below, Adam Lind absolutely killed pitches in the strike zone in 2009. 

2009 Zone


But ever since then, it's been a completely different story. Beginning in 2010 and ever since then, Lind began to chase even more pitches outside of the strike zone ... especially on pitches down and away.

2012 Zone


Last season, it looks like Adam Lind really only had luck connecting on belt high pitches, exposing a weakness to pitches above and below the middle of the strike zone.

One can see why a zone like this is extremely problematic for Adam Lind; unless opposing pitchers are serving up cookies down the heart of the plate, they're getting him out all over the zone (and outside of it as well).

All of this probably isn't new information to former hitting coach Dwayne Murphy and the new incumbent Chad Mattola. The million dollar question is, how do they remedy the situation?

I noticed late last year Adam Lind was sporting a much more upright batting stance, so maybe that had something to do with his renewed approach at the plate.

Perhaps Adam Lind has already figured part of it out, in effect transitioning himself into somewhat of a slap hitter in the latter part of the 2012 season. Though I wonder if that's a sustainable strategy, as Adam Lind's first half BABIP was .251 compared to .321 down the stretch.

Although he did manage to collect 27 singles in his final 25 games of the season, that curiously high BABIP is bound to even itself out. Combine that with the fact September call-ups parade out a flurry of inexperienced pitchers, Lind may have gotten a little lucky in September.

For better or worse, Adam Lind isn't going anywhere in 2013. The Blue Jays will pay $5 million dollars for his services regardless, so it seems wasteful to eat that money and supplant Lind with a replacement level first baseman.

In the 2012 incarnation of the Blue Jays lineup, Adam Lind was somewhat of a liability in the cleanup spot. However, with a much more evenly dispersed lineup card for John Gibbons to work with this year, slotting Lind further down in the lineup no longer poses a burden.

For a guy who's only 29 years old, Adam Lind has certainly been put through the ringer in his short big league career. Lind has bounced all over the diamond; being shifted from left field to DH to first base. Lind has missed 54 games the past two seasons due to back injuries.

Not to mention, Adam Lind was designated for assignment last season, causing his complete future with the Toronto Blue Jays to come into question. Through all of that, Lind has remained resilient and is still on the Blue Jays roster ... so I think that deserves some credit.

Maybe if Adam Lind does get his second wind and rediscovers some of that magic from his breakout 2009 season, perhaps those club options for 2014 and beyond may not be as futile as they appear to be.

2 comments:

  1. The jays must hold some record for crazy deviations in year to year performances. Lind, hill, EE, Bautista all had crazy up/down years with the jays.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You're right - there have been an odd amount of enigmas in the Blue Jays lineup over these past few years. The odd player like Hill is going to get away, but hanging onto Bautista and Encarnacion has paid dividends.

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