Faith in an Adam Lind Bounceback

In 2009, Adam Lind led a Blue Jays offense that finished eighth in the majors in runs scored. His .394 wOBA topped the team by a significant margin, and his .257 ISO was unrivaled by any player with more than 150 PA (sorry, Randy Ruiz). It stood to reason that Lind, a highly touted prospect whom the Blue Jays brought along slowly, had experienced a breakout year and would continue to lead the team’s offense through its rebuilding years. Yet in 2010 we saw a completely different Lind. It has led to many questions about him heading into 2011. But looking at how his season unfolded, it appears as though he could be in for another high-powered 2011 campaign.

There is no way to spin Lind’s 2010 into something positive. His walks were down, his strikeouts were up, his power dropped considerably, and he finished with an OBP below .300. His numbers against righties, while decent, were down considerably from his 2009 levels, and he was absolutely abysmal against left-handed pitching — his .156 wOBA was the worst in the league vs. lefties by 50 points. But if you’re looking at his splits, you might notice an encouraging sign.

Lind’s poor performances seem to be concentrated in two months, May and June. His BABIP, .361 in April and around .300 later in the season, was around .200 in those two months. His power was basically non-existent, as he had a .138 ISO in May and .078 in June. But after that he took off. From July forward he had a .241 ISO, which was close to his .257 mark from 2009. He also brought his strikeout rate down a bit, and walked just a bit more. These are all obviously encouraging signs.

It’s tough to take a half-season’s worth of data and declare that it demonstrates improvement. But given what we know about Lind from a scouting standpoint, and what we’ve seen him do, at least in 2009, I have a bit more faith that his second half resurgence does have merit. His batted ball profile also looks considerably better.

He pulled the ball with much more authority in the second half, much in the way he did during the 2009 season. It appears that he went the opposite way more in the first half, but got away from that in the second half. That’s a bit odd, since he had a .327 ISO when hitting to the opposite field in 2010, after displaying even more opposite-field power in 2010. I’m not sure what to make it of it, but it does signal some kind of change, whether deliberate or not.

The projection systems disagree with this assessment. Here is Lind’s triple slash from the prominent projection engines:

Bill James: .281/.338/.497
Marcel:     .268/.324/.464
Fans:       .278/.334/.487
ZiPS:       .269/.321/.471
CAIRO:      .257/.314/.456
PECOTA:     .264/.317/.468

Only Bill James gives him a chance of approximating his breakout season. And even if we weigh his second-half performance more heavily, he still hit just .272/.312/.513. But given what we know about Lind’s potential, what we’ve seen from him, and his second half recovery, I think that we’ll see Lind beat his projections in 2011, perhaps by a considerably margin. Everyone has down years. It’s just a shame that Lind’s came right after his breakout.

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Joe also writes about the Yankees at River Ave. Blues.

18 Responses to “Faith in an Adam Lind Bounceback”

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  1. opisgod says:

    Tis what happens when stupid managers tell an opposite-field swing to pull the ball every time, good thing that senile fool is gone.

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    • siggian says:

      You do realize that the senile stupid manager he had in 2010 is the same senile stupid manager he had in 2009?

      Cito Gaston has a consistent offensive message: have a plan when you go to bat. With a good plan, you should see a ball to hit and you better have a good cut at it. If you look at the personnel the Jays had in 2010, it wasn’t a bad approach.

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  2. Tiger says:

    I can say that the Blue Jays’ tv broadcasters were attributing Lind’s woes to pulling the ball too much and not waiting on pitches to power the ball to left-center.

    The charts appear to show that notion to be back-asswards.

    More likely Lind was slow to adjust to new pitching patterns, reluctant to abandon what worked so well for him in 2009.

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  3. Oscar says:

    This is just…garbage analysis…

    -56 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • FrankTheFunkasaurusRex says:

      This is just…garbage comment

      +50 Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Oscar says:

        “It’s tough to take a half-season’s worth of data and declare that it demonstrates improvement.”

        Why even keep writing after this sentence? He’s literally just saying “Lind had a good 2009 and a decent last three months in 2010. Every projection system disagrees, but I think he’ll bounce back because…I do.”

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      • DavidCEisen says:

        Actually he says we should combine statistical analysis with scouting, which has led him to the belief that Lind will bounce back.

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      • joser says:

        See, Oscar, you do know how to write an actual criticism, rather than just lazy one-liner thread crapping. I know it takes more time out of your busy day, but it’s just common courtesy to your fellow Fangraph readers.

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  4. Greg W says:

    Look, either he forgot how to hit lefties, or they realized he had a couple big holes in his swing. Either he adjusts, and hits left-handed pitching at a .240 clip or better, or he’s a platoon player going forward. Nothing else really makes any difference.

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    • Brian Tallet's Moustache says:

      Given Farrell’s comments when he was first hired, he made it sound like they realized he had a couple of big holes in his swing, mentioning how the Sox (and assuming, by extension, others) would attack Lind differently at the plate.

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  5. Danny says:

    The thing about Lind is that a couple years ago his swing was one of the most beautiful in the game. Taking the ball the other way with authority, turning on inside breaking balls. It was fun to watch. Last year he just looked lost out there. I give him a pretty high probability of a comeback season – he’s looked so incredible in the past I just can’t believe that he permanently forgot how to hit a baseball.

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  6. greenfrog says:

    Plus, Lind has a 318/380/509 career line in the minors, so it’s not as though his breakout season was a total fluke. I’m guessing that AL pitchers have made some adjustments, and Lind will need to make some adjustments himself to get back on track.

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  7. Dave says:

    “he’s looked so incredible in the past I just can’t believe that he permanently forgot how to hit a baseball.”
    -see Travis Hafner

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  8. twoseamer says:

    Hafner has chronic shoulder issues and possibly benefited from some PED help as well. Not in the same realm.

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    • Bam says:

      Really? Unwarranted PED speculation? You were right when you mentioned his chronic shoulder issues – those can entirely sap a hitter’s ability. You should have stopped there.

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  9. exxrox says:

    I agree with above comment re: his swing.

    In 2009, some of his biggest and best blasts (anecdotal) were oppo or monster dead center shots. His batting average, especially in the high minors (which he was forced to repeat and threepeat by management) was incredible. He has had poor periods of adjustment in the past, however, which is why he had been bouncing back and forth from AAA to MLB and from great to mediocre. He’s only ever really looked truly comfortable at the plate twice in his MLB career: 2009 and his very first September callup.

    I think he readjusts this year and gets back to what he’s good at: laying back with his swing and taking the ball where he is given it.

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  10. Greg W says:

    The man can hit, with lots of power, anywhere in the park, please observe!

    Last year


    But against lefties 2010 was a disaster. 1 homer every 68.5 AB, in 2009, 1hr every 24 AB, in 2008, 1hr every 45 ab. against righties? 1hr for every 20.3 AB in his career.

    But pick any other stat, it’s going to be the same…. if he beats upon lefties again, he’s wonderful protection for Bautista, if not, well, There’s always Encarnacion!

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  11. sorbil says:

    I don’t buy into the two bad months and then came out of the funk outlook. June wasn’t just a tough month for Lind, the entire Toronto team was an offensive disaster scoring just 3.1 runs/g vs. at least 4.5 in every other month. They faced some brutal pitching that month where they played NL teams 11 times. They faced Carpenter, Wainwright, Halladay, Hamels, Sabbathia, Jiminez, Price (twice), Latos, Cain and J. Garcia. Plus another game @SD. That’s almost half the games that month. Perhaps they don’t fare as well against pitchers they don’t see that often, not to mention the quality of the pitching they were facing.

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