Did the Blue Jays Fix Adam Lind?
|Image courtesy of Zimbio|
How is it that somebody can go from being a cornerstone of the franchise to suddenly being cast aside and nearly slipping through waivers? It might seem odd how a player can fall so far so fast, but such is the case with Adam Lind.
Admittedly, I had soured on the idea of Adam Lind as the everyday first baseman long ago. But with his recent play, I may just be warming up to the thought of keeping him in a Blue Jays uniform beyond 2012.
It wasn’t really all that long ago that Adam Lind and Aaron Hill combined to be one of the best 1-2 offensive punches in the American League. But ever since 2009, Lind’s career has been on a slow and steady decline.
After a few consecutive sub-par seasons, Adam Lind’s descent into mediocrity became very evident this year. Being optioned to the minor leagues and being taken off the 40-man surely must have been a huge wake up call.
Couple that with yet another back injury which sent him to the disabled list shortly after being recalled in early in July, and you could safely say that 2012 has been a tumultuous season for Adam Lind.
Some might indicate that Adam Lind might be a lost cause going forward, but if these past few weeks have been any indication, I think this 29-year old still has some gas left in the tank.
Perhaps the most promising sign with Adam Lind has been his renewed approach at the plate. Whether it was Dwayne Murphy or someone down in Las Vegas, they really did overhaul Adam Lind’s batting stance.
Here’s what Lind’s stance looked like in early 2009 career year; very hunched over and his hands set somewhat far away from his body.
Compare that with a screencap from Opening Day 2012, and it’s easy to see that Lind has veered far away from the batting stance that made him so successful in 2009.
While his feet are planted relatively in the same spot, Lind’s back is much more upright in the screencap above. Perhaps a side affect of all those reps at first base these past few years, and he’s merely just compensating.
It also looks like Adam’s hands are a little higher up in a set position, and slightly closer to his body than in 2009.
And here we have the most recent example of Adam Lind’s latest batting stance, and it really is night and day compared to his early days with the Blue Jays. After spending some time in Las Vegas, he’s standing even more upright and his hands are even higher and closer to his shoulders.
The early results from this new batting stance seem to be working, as Lind is hitting .281 in 9 games since his early return to the Blue Jays on August 27th. And since coming back from his exile in Las Vegas, Lind has posted a .286 batting average and is OPS’ing .807. It’s not the largest sample size in the world, yet it’s a promising start.
He’s not exactly tearing the cover off of the ball, but it’s certainly a respectable line for a player who was thought to be a complete lost cause earlier in the season.
Part of the key of Adam Lind’s second half resurgence can possibly be attributed to his lack of play in the field. He’s started 24 of 31 games at DH since June 25th, leaving the first base duties up to mostly Edwin Encarnacion and David Cooper.
While Adam Lind has clearly shown he can play first base, I think the ill effects of picking balls out of the dirt and reaching for grounders has taken its toll on Adam Lind’s back. So the fewer games he sees in the field, the better.
And let’s not forget that his best season as Blue Jay was when he was strictly a DH and didn’t field a position. Some players might need the distraction of hitting the field every half inning to take their mind off hitting, but I think Adam Lind has shown that he’s one player where that’s not the case.
If Lind can focus strictly on hitting again and only pick up a first baseman’s glove on the odd occasion, that could very well be the way to maximize the potential out of him. And at a $5 million salary next year, I can’t see the Blue Jays quitting on the Adam Lind project quite yet.
Say if the Blue Jays do in fact go out and upgrade at DH next season and sign someone like David Ortiz, that doesn’t necessarily signal the end of the road for Adam Lind either. He could still be a potent bench bat and get the odd start against a right-handed pitcher.
Adam Lind may be bent, but I wouldn’t say he’s broken.