Diamonds in the rough

Trying to discover the finest young talent in the major leagues is kind of like mining for diamonds: you have to  sift through lot of crap to get to the good stuff.

When it comes to the 2010 Toronto Blue Jays roster, there are a few diamonds in the rough. Players like Aaron Hill, Adam Lind and Travis Snider are going to make watching this team at least somewhat bearable this coming season.

Thanks to Justin at Beyond the Boxscore, you can check out how the 2009 Blue Jays starting lineup fared in the DiamondView Composite: a very cool visual aid that helps show how players stack up in four basic categories (fielding, on base, power and base-running).


Considering that over one-third of last year’s Opening Day lineup has flown the nest, I decided to choose the young guns: Adam Lind, Aaron Hill and Travis Snider.

Just by quickly glancing over these, three things come immediately to mind:

  1. Aaron Hill is not a good a fielder as I thought he was.
  2. Adam Lind is a much worse fielder than I thought he was.
  3. Out of all three above, Travis Snider is the most well-rounded player.

1.) I don’t expect Aaron Hill to be saving lives out there at second base, but for some reason I thought he performed much better on the field in 2009 than his numbers dictate. Nowhere near his incredible 2006 season where is UZR was a phenomenal 18.1, Hill dropped down to earth a little bit in 2009 with a -2.3 UZR.

2.) As great a player as Adam Lind is, by looking at his DiamondView composite, it appears that Cito is grooming Lind into a one-trick pony. I don’t claim to be a conditioning coach, but is Lind so far gone when it comes to fielding that he is a liability on the field? It certainly appears to be that way. Luckily, there are plenty of other teams who have below average fielders on the everyday roster.

3.) Travis Snider on the other hand, provides quite a bit of  hope for the future. His defensive skill set is far superior to Lind’s, and Snider is also a little quicker on the base paths. 86 games at the major league level is a small sample size of numbers to base the future on, but I think he has yet to find his power stride. In my mind, the sky’s the limit for Travis Snider.

If you’re curious how the rest of the Blue Jays fared on the DiamondView Composites, make sure you check out the rest of the roster over at Beyond the Boxscore.

DiamondView Composites courtesy of Beyond the Boxscore

Ian Hunter

Ian has been writing about the Toronto Blue Jays since 2007. He enjoyed the tail-end of the Roy Halladay era and vividly remembers the Alex Rodriguez "mine" incident. He'll also retell the story of Game 5 of the 2015 ALDS to his kids for the next 20 years.

10 thoughts on “Diamonds in the rough

  • January 13, 2010 at 6:03 pm

    Their fielding numbers disagree with the Fielding Bible Award, which Hill won on tiebreakers.

  • January 13, 2010 at 6:52 pm

    Torgen, that's what I found a little odd – he won the FBA ahead of Utley and Pedroia, yet his numbers on the DiamondVision don't really reflect that.

    I'm guessing that the DiamondVision fielding stats are heavily weighted on UZR, whereas the Fielding Bible Awards focus more on assists, putouts, double plays, etc.

  • January 13, 2010 at 8:46 pm

    Pretty cool link.
    I'm surprised how good Snider is on the basepaths due to his umm.. girth.

  • January 13, 2010 at 9:08 pm

    Hill's defence has to be better than stated. He was super solid last year. His hitting that many HRs may have made me remember differently though.

  • January 13, 2010 at 9:27 pm

    Colt, Snider was so quick because Dwayne Murphy told him he could have a donut if he ran from first to third without collapsing.

    Mattt, as I said above I think the defensive stats on the DiamondVision are heavily weighted on UZR. I will ask Justin and give you guys an answer.

  • January 14, 2010 at 6:15 am

    I think Keith Law or Kevin Goldstein or someone else has said that Lind's fielding is as bad as it seems. Still, he hits well enough to explore making him a full-time DH; his bat can carry the "position."

  • January 14, 2010 at 2:38 pm

    Would the overall value be better using up the DH spot with Lind and taking up a field position with Bautista and his far superior fielding skills, or keeping the DH open for (hopefully) a far more potent bat than Bautista's. I would suspect the latter.
    Noting also that Snider is being compared to LF, I wonder how he'll compare in RF – many have suggested he has the skills to play RF effectively.

  • January 14, 2010 at 3:18 pm

    For those wondering, I asked Justin and he said the fielding stats are in fact based on UZR/150.

    Steve, I just feel bad that at 26 years old, Lind has turned into a liability on the field. Unless he goes through an intense training regiment over the next few years, I think he might be DH the rest of his career.

    QJays, that's the conundrum that the Blue Jays have – do you stick Lind in LF and use Bautista/Ruiz as a DH, or do you suck it up and use Lind as a DH and play Bautista in LF and hope that he gets better hitting against righties?

  • January 14, 2010 at 6:31 pm

    Someday, somebody will develop a reliable and consistent set of fielding stats. Until then, I'll keep trying to trust my eyes.

  • January 14, 2010 at 9:27 pm

    That's the tough thing – there is no one single fielding statistic that clearly shows a player's weaknesses/strengths on the field.

    Until then, UZR is pretty decent way to give you an idea of a fielder's range, but it doesn't tell the entire story.

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