Tao’s 37 Jays in 37 days: Adam Lind

February 22, 2013, 5:27 PM

Who: Adam Lind, No. 26, designated hitter/first baseman, bats left, throws left. 29-years old, 6-foot-2, 210 pounds, one-time Silver Slugger recipient, whipping boy, someone to despise.

Provenance: Anderson, Indiana. Lind was drafted in the third round of the 2004 amateur draft out of the University of South Alabama by the Toronto Blue Jays.

Contract status: Lind is in the final year of a four-year, $18 million contract. The Blue Jays hold options for 2014, 2015 and 2016.

Top line numbers: In 714 games played with the Blue Jays, Lind has a .316 OBP, .460 SLG, 114 HRs over 2,887 plate appearances. He strikes out 19.3 per cent of the time, and walks just 6.7 per cent of the time.

2012 Stats: A .314 OBP, .414 SLG in 353 plate appearances (93 games). Lind was demoted to triple-A Las Vegas in May in favour of Yan Gomes.

Injury history: Lind missed a month with a back sprain in 2012 and a month with back spasms in 2011.

Looking back: Regardless of who has been in his ear, Lind has been one of the worst first basemen/designated hitters in the majors following his breakout season in 2009.
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According to Fangraphs, there are 39 players in the majors who have had enough at bats to qualify for rate stats at first base from 2010 through 2012. Among those players, Lind ranks No. 39 in on-base percentage (.296), 38th in WAR (wins above replacement)(-0.2), 36th in walk rate (6.6 per cent), and 26th in strikeout rate (20.7 per cent).

It’s painful to make a statement like that, because cruelty is not our bag. There aren’t many Lind defenders left around Toronto, and even those who chose to take up his cause do so with the most vague and tepid arguments in his favour. The notion being that if he’s healthy and locked in, he’ll be decent again. Sorta. Maybe.

Lind has had moments where he tore up the league, but even those are deceiving. People will point to his return to the lineup in June of 2011, when he was of baseball’s hottest hitters with seven homers in two weeks. But all of those home runs came against the Baltimore Orioles and Kansas City Royals, two of the weaker pitching teams in the league that season.

Looking ahead: It seems as though Blue Jays fans have been saying this for years, but this really is the end for Lind. On a team that takes itself seriously as a contender, it’s hard to imagine them giving a prime spot in their lineup to an underperforming asset.

Is it possible that Lind finally does something to keep his job?

It’s a remote possibility, but his success probably depends as much on how he’s used as on his own performance.

Could he be passable as a platoon designated hitter that doesn’t face lefties and hits further down in the order? It’s possible, but to call that success is to grade on a generous curve.

Last year at this time, the assessment of Lind in this preview series was thus:

We hate to say a player is on his last chance, because we pride ourselves on not giving into the impatient hyperbole of fandom. But with a team that should be headed towards a Wild Card spot within the next two seasons, Lind will either need to assert himself or move on.

It’s funny how little has changed over the past year. At this point, Lind’s poor performance is a perpetual problem for the franchise, and one that has become a tiresome point of discussion.

There’s only so much tar and so many feathers.

Optimistically: At the best, Lind maintains the same level of performance as in recent years, while injuries to other key hitters magnify his role in the offence.

Pessimistically: Lind holds his role as a platoon role, posting a .330 OBP and a .500 SLG while being shielded from left-handed pitchers.

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