Key Stats: After an out of this world HR:FB rate of 19.8% in 2009, Adam Lind dropped to 13.3% in what turned out to be a very disappointing 2010 season. Last year it seemed Lind discovered the baby bear’s porridge as his HR:FB rate finished at 17%. At that rate, he would have easily jacked 30 home runs if he had not missed 37 games.
Skeptics Say: The batting average has been tough to look at for two straight seasons. Similar to his home run to fly ball rate, Lind’s strikeout rate did come down last season but not to the point that it was in 2009. That said, Lind should have been better than .251 a year ago. He had a .265 BABIP which was based largely on him doubling his infield fly ball rate. Given that his line drive rate rose at the same rate of his strikeout rate last year, I think something in the high 260s or low 270s would have been more reasonable. The other stat problems with Lind are his steals (not unusual for a first baseman though) and his runs scored. The runs is an issue given that many first basemen ahead of him score 90 or more runs in a season. Lind had the second lowest walk rate among qualifying first basemen last year (only Mark Trumbo was worse). You probably don’t need Jonah Hill to tell you that runs often come from walks.
Peer Comparison: Tristan Cockcroft has Lind ranked ahead of Ryan Howard. Howard is not coming off of a very good season and is 4 years older, but Cockcroft is crazy.
Howard’s numbers in 2012: 81 R 33 HR 116 RBI .253 AVG 1 SB
Lind’s numbers in 2012: 56 R 26 HR 87 RBI .251 AVG 1 SB
Lind wasn’t better than Howard in one out of the five major 5×5 categories. Perhaps staying healthy could have changed that outcome, but isn’t the durability of Howard just one more reason he should be ranked ahead of Lind? There’s basically no way that Lind finishes with more runs or RBI than Howard, so he would have to get the average into the mid 270s to even be considered ahead of Howard. And even if he did get in the 270 to 280 range, don’t forget that Howard hit over .270 in both 2009 and 2010.
Lineup Outlook: Lind was the Blue Jays clean up hitter behind Jose Bautista last year. Bautista was given more intentional passes than any hitter in the American League which partially tells us what the opponents think of Lind. John Farrell will have to think about making a change this season with the emergence of Edwin Encarnacion late last season and of course the rising star of Brett Lawrie. The move would obviously hurt Lind. Bautista scored 14 runs that were directly driven in by Lind and was on base for several more of the times where he had RBIs. More than that, moving Lind down in the order will deny him opportunities just through the natural course of the guy in front of him being the last out in the 9th inning. Lind hit just .243 with runners on. The further Bautista is from him in the order, the less at-bats he’ll figure to get.
Projection: We’ll remember 2009 as his career year, but this guy can be a good player for years to come.
70 R 29 HR 90 RBI .270 AVG 1 SB .318 OBP .750 OPS