Adam Lind: What’s The Deal With That Guy?

It’s interesting to see how a player with a relatively small amount of experience can see his pre-season ranking fluctuate from year to year. If he has a breakout season in his first full year but follows it up with a subpar second season, he’ll be dropped in the rankings come his third year. It’s only natural. A track record of sustained success is needed to receive the benefit of the doubt. Adam Lind doesn’t have that.

In his 660 PA’s between 2007 and 2008, Lind combined to hit .260/.297/.420 with 20 home runs. If you produced those numbers over a full season you may get picked up in very deep leagues, but even 20 home runs wouldn’t be that impressive from a corner outfielder. Then 2009 happened, and Lind finally lived up to his potential. He jacked 35 home runs while leading all AL outfielders in slugging percentage and ranking 5th in ISO.

Over the past two weeks there haven’t been too many hitters hotter than Adam Lind. Over his past 12 games he’s moved his triple slash line from an abysmal .235/.280/.329 to a very respectable .312/.343/.516. An 11 game hitting streak – including seven multi-hit games and six home runs – will do that for a person. The question is, just how likely is he to keep improving this season and get back to his 2009 form? Let’s take a look at some of his plate discipline numbers.

2009 2010 2011
Zone Contact% 87.9 86.1 91.4
Contact % 82.7 78.3 84.5
Swinging Strike % 7.2 10.7 8.5

As you can see, Lind is making more contact inside the strike zone, making more contact in general, and has cut back on his number of whiffs. The extra balls Lind is putting in play have resulted in a LD% of over 24.0, which has no doubt helped fuel his recent surge, but isn’t likely sustainable for a full season. Lind is also succeeding against left handed pitching in the early goings, something he failed to do all of last season. His wOBA against LHP is currently .368, while it was .156 (!) and .335 the past two seasons. As our own Joe Pawlikowski pointed out earlier this year, that .156 wOBA was the lowest in the league by 50 points. Any improvement against southpaws would have been welcomed, not to mention a return of his 2009 numbers.

His pre-season rankings and projections weren’t favorable. The most optimistic projection system had him hitting .281/.338/.497, and we had him in the lower to middle tiers of our rankings for both first base and outfield. It’s only been 140 PA, but Lind is starting to again look like the top prospect we saw break out in 2009.

What IS the deal?

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Erik writes for DraysBay and has also written for Bloomberg Sports. Follow him on Twitter @ehahmann.

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The deal is that just has he gets hot, and the Jays get Bautista back, Lind has back problems and now needs an MRI and may end up on the DL.