Adam Lind’s Breakout Season

Adam Lind has been regarded as a good hitting prospect for years.  Finally, last season, Lind was given an opening day gig and at age 26 he had his breakout season.  Such a breakout does not go unquestioned, however.  Can he repeat his 35 homers given the big spike in HR/FB rate?  Is he a true .300 hitter?  The answers to these questions, plus others, are very important because to grab Lind on draft day 2010, it will come at a significant cost.
 

The biggest question in my mind is the power numbers.  Before last season, I had projected Lind to hit about 20 home runs with full playing time.  Obviously, he went well beyond that slugging 35 long balls.  Based on his past, I don’t think there were many out there who thought he’d hit 30-plus in his first full season.

 
Looking at his AB/HR rates throughout his career shows that Lind truly profiled as more of a 20-25 home run hitter than a 30-35 home run hitter.
 
Year Level AB/HR HR/550
2006 AA 18.3 30.0
2006 AAA 21.8 25.2
2006 MLB 30.0 18.3
2006 Total 19.9 27.7
2007 AAA 29.0 19.0
2007 MLB 26.4 20.9
2007 Total 27.3 20.2
2008 AAA 31.5 17.5
2008 MLB 36.2 15.2
2008 Total 34.3 16.0
2009 MLB 16.8 32.8
AAA Total 27.8 19.8
MLB Total 22.2 24.8
       
2010 Proj Bill James 19.0 28.9
2010 Proj CHONE 21.3 25.8
2010 Proj Marcel 22.2 24.8
 
Some of these year-by-year regressions can be explained by the fact that he moved around a lot, jumping between levels and never really getting to settle in on particular spot.  Prior to 2009, the most at bats Lind received at one level was 348 back in 2006 at double-A. 
 
This brings us to the jump in Lind’s HR/FB rate.  That rate jumped almost nine percent last season with a fly ball rate of 36 percent.  It’s not as if Lind is a big fly ball hitter.  Actually, he hits more line drives and grounders than fly balls, which helps to keep his AVG up.  That being said, it seems like some kind of regression in power is likely.  But how much?  Lind has always displayed good gap power and his 46 doubles in 2009 tied him with Miguel Tejada for fifth best in Major League Baseball.  Combined with the fact that 2010 will be his age 26/27 season, there is a very good chance that Lind hits between 25 and 30 home runs this season. 
 
When it comes down to it, Adam Lind is an all around good hitter and spreads his home runs around the field.  He draws a good amount of walks and doesn’t strike out too much.  On top of that he makes better than average contact when he does swing.  The fact that Lind is more of a “pure” hitter than a “power” hitter may lead to some fluctuations in his home run production.  Maybe he’s more of a 25-30 home run hitter than a 35-plus home run hitter, but that will still make Lind a valuable fantasy option in 2010 given his prime spot in the lineup.  According to hittrackeronline.com, Lind was not aided by a bunch of cheap home runs either.  Of his 35 homers, nine were considered “just enough”, 24 were over the fence by “plenty” and two were “no-doubters”.