Adam Lind Just Might Be Relevant Again

Has there been a more frustrating player over the last few years than Adam Lind? He had a breakout 2009, hitting 36 homers with a nice .396 wOBA, giving Toronto hope that they’d found a pillar of their offense for years to come. The next year he collapsed under a pile of strikeouts and poor BABIP, and while he managed to retain some of his power, three years of nearly identical — and lousy — wOBA marks of .309, .316,  and .316 ended with a demotion to Triple-A in 2012. Lind’s Toronto career seemed over; his fantasy relevance almost certainly was.

Back in February, Matt Klaassen asked “Does Adam Lind Have a Purpose?”, which isn’t exactly what you want said about you headed into your age-29 season. As Klaassen said at the time,

But in a well-deployed platoon, Lind would move from being a sunk cost who is not Mark DeRosa to actually having a positive purpose on the Blue Jays’ roster because of, rather than despite, his big platoon split.

“Being a sunk coast who is not Mark DeRosa.” If there’s higher praise you can say about a man, I’m not sure I know what it is.

But Lind made the team and started on Opening Day, and has actually made 37 starts between first base and designated hitter. With Brett Lawrie battling a sprained ankle and regular first baseman Edwin Encarnacion covering for him at the hot corner, Lind’s playing time as increased, as he’s started each of the last five games at first base.

Oh, and he’s hitting a lovely .329/.411/.521. Does Lind have a purpose now, or is this just another tease? He’s owned in less than 20% of ESPN leagues, so it’s worth investigating.

Here’s what we do know at a glance — it’s somewhat BABIP-related, but not entirely. No, Lind is not going to keep up a .373 mark all season long, but BABIP doesn’t explain a walk rate that’s 12.9% when it had never been even to 9.0% before, or a strikeout rate that would be a career-low 16.6% if he could keep it up.

That seems to be an indication of a player who has changed his approach, and wouldn’t you know it, Lind himself said just that in an interview with Shi Davidi of a few weeks ago:

“I’ve decided not to be stubborn anymore and just try to hit fastballs,” explains Lind. “There are times you can do that, but there are times you have to realize pitchers aren’t going to throw you fastballs. There were times last year they’d throw me two fastballs for balls on purpose so they could throw me a 2-0 changeup and I’d just ground out. Hopefully with the walks I’ve taken and the at-bats I’ve had, it won’t let them go about it that way because I’ve been more patient at the plate.”

Because we’re on FanGraphs, we can test that. Lind has indeed become far more selective, swinging at 24.5% of pitches outside the zone. He’s been over 30% (sometimes well over) in each other full season of his career, except for — wait for it — 2009. I think we’re on to something here. Lind’s swinging at fewer pitches inside the zone as well, and so an overall swing percentage that has occasionally topped 50% is down to 37.5%.

Lind also noted in that quote that he’d just end up grounding out on bad pitches a lot, and that’s down as well, from 48.3% to 42.6%. That’s helped improve his line drive rate as well, though he’s traded in a bit of power in exchange for that patience; his HR/FB rate is the lowest he’s ever had.

But there’s also this: new (old) manager John Gibbons has realized that Lind absolutely cannot hit lefty pitching, and so Gibbons has kept Lind away from southpaws almost entirely, giving him only 15 plate appearances against them all season.

Lind is still owned in fewer than 20% of both ESPN & Yahoo leagues, and that might be too low. I recently picked him up for a lone dollar to fill a utility spot in a league where I’d lost three players to injuries in four days, and he seems more than worth the risk for a price like that — especially if you are in daily leagues and can keep him active only when the Blue Jays are facing a righty pitcher. Lind is never going to repeat 2009, and that BABIP is all but certain to come back down. But I do like it when we can point to something more tangible for a player’s improvement, and Lind’s change in approach is not only smart, it’s provable based on the results. For now, he seems like a pretty solid low-cost option if you have a bench spot to fill.

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Mike Petriello lives in New York and writes about the Dodgers daily at Dodgers Digest, as well as contributing to ESPN Insider. He wrote two chapters in the 2014 Hardball Times Annual as well as building The Hardball Times and TechGraphs, and was an editorial producer at Sports on Earth. Find him at @mike_petriello.

13 Responses to “Adam Lind Just Might Be Relevant Again”

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  1. Dan says:

    For an owner who was stuck with Ike and Hosmer, I will take Matt Adams and a platooned over those two letdowns. Thanks for the write-up as I have now added Lind as my other 1B piece in my 16-team league.

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  2. Jay-V says:

    I dropped Moreland for Lind a couple of days ago; and yes, I do have Hosmer on my team playing the UTIL spot, or rather, “had”.

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  3. david says:

    Side note on Lind vs lefties. He was 3/4 vs LHP Zito on 5 June.

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  4. vanadiun says:



    Who’s better ROS?

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    • Sarge6 says:

      Ashamedly, I’ll cop to wondering about that. This is the season I’m finally falling out of like with Ryan Howard.

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    • John says:

      Unfortunately, I am contemplating this exact quandary in this very moment.

      I just dropped Morneau for Loney…so do I now drop Loney for Lind? In a platoon with Matt Carpenter, they could put together a decent line. But alas this is H2H and not roto…

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  5. Jonathan says:

    I play in a R, HR, RBI, SB, OBP, and SLG league. I’ve been debating picking up Ibanez, Lind, or Teixera (he’s been on the wire since no one in our league still believes in him, apparently). Yesterday, I decided to go with Lind based on the strength of his OBP and SLG ratios. I’m leading in HR, R, OBP, and SLG right now. I figure if I keep my leads in OBP and SLG, the other categories will fall in line too. Thus, my reasoning for selecting Lind over the other two guys. I crave validation, apparently; thus, my post here.

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  6. lee says:

    um No. take Teixeira

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  7. ESPN…league

    I’d guess that 75% of ESPN leagues are zombie leagues and ignore all ownership rates from there.

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  8. everdiso says:

    I had completely given up on lind, and then he goes out in april and doubles his career best monthly bb% rate, and follows it up in may with his 2nd best career monthly bb%.

    And now that pitchers have started to realize he’s not swibging at junk anymore, he’s lacing strikes all over the field.

    pretty amazing to watch his transformation this year. completely different hitter.

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