Sorry, Adam Lind.
Your team-leading .397 OBP isn’t fooling anyone, least of all the Toronto Blue Jays and manager John Gibbons, who have rightfully decided that he’s best used in a lefty-righty platoon with Rajai Davis.
Well, that’s not true, actually.
Lind’s on-base turnaround is managing to surprise some folks (like Buck Martinez, for example … then again, that’s not really saying much), who seem to think that the former Silver Slugger’s new-found discipline at the plate is a sign that he’s seeing the ball better, and that it’s a sign for good things to come.
To be fair, that would be true for most batters, really. Lind, on the other hand, is an exception to the rule.
See, while it’s very true that he’s taken a new approach to seeing more pitches at the plate by … well, simply not swinging at pitches (career-low 37.4 percent overall, 21.8 percent of pitches outside), it’s the 55 percent of the time that he does decide to swing at pitches inside the zone that tells the story.
Though he’s making contact just fine with those pitches (career-high, 92.5 percent, 85.4 percent overall), he’s barely doing anything with it. Only 12.5 percent of the hits have been line drives, and his 42.5 percent fly ball rate is the highest since his 65 PA cup of tea in 2006.
In short, Lind is the king of soft fly balls right now.
That’s probably something that his miserable .311 slugging percentage will tell you — or if you like counting numbers, there’s a full zero homers and three RBIs to look at through 58 PA, too.
So, whereas Lind was just a poor-hitting 1B/DH with power, he’s now a poor-hitting 1B/DH who can draw walks but can’t do damage otherwise — somehow, he’s turned what’s normally a good thing (AL-leading 20.7 percent walk rate) into a career-worst .708 OPS because he’s essentially useless with the bat.
With that kind of offensive futility, it’s no wonder why pitchers are attacking him with 63.8 percent first pitch strikes, a five-year high.
Does all that seem a little harsh? Perhaps.
There is the caveat that this is a sub-100 PA sample size, and the power could come from Lind yet once he’s comfortable with his plate discipline. That’s what you could tell yourself if you happen to be a Lind believer after all these years, and hey, there’s always a chance you could be vindicated.
In an ideal scenario for the team, I would be absolutely, embarrassingly wrong about the assessment … and that would be just fine.
That said, it’s a whole lot of faith to put on a guy who hasn’t shown much to warrant it in three-plus seasons. Lind might be a whole new hitter now, but he’s not swinging the bat for a reason:
@bluejaysrant can’t have any gaping holes in your swing when you don’t actually swing! MVP!
— Matt Roth (@mattroth416) April 22, 2013
That’s something of a joke, of course. But unless the patience is just to lull pitchers into a false sense of security, I’d expect the walks to come down at some point when pitchers finally realize that, transformed or not, there’s really not that much harm that can happen when they pitch to Adam Lind.