January 30, 2013
The Keeper Reaper
First, Third, and DH for 1/30/13
Adam Lind is fantasy’s version of Michael Corleone in Godfather Part III: just when you think he’s out, he pulls himself back in. Lind has bounced in and out of fantasy relevance—and the minor leagues—tantalizing with just enough (occasional) productivity to keep him in a big league uniform (well, that, and the misbegotten four-year, $18 million deal he signed after his breakout 2009 season). It would be easy to call BABIP his Joey Zasa, the nemesis who keeps him down, since Lind’s seasons since 2009 are paralleled by diminishing BABIP returns, but there’s more to the story than that:
Clearly, 2009 came courtesy of plenty of blessings from Lady Luck—or Lucky Luciano—with both BABIP and home run rates well above his career averages (.293 and 15 percent, respectively). He followed his breakout year with decreased patience and contact skills, as evidenced by his strikeout and walk rates in 2010. Both were sharp reversals of a trend that had helped him succeed in 2009, when he posted career lows in swing rate on balls outside the zone and overall swing rate. The former leapt almost 10 points from 2009 to 2010, and the latter jumped over six points. Like Zasa, Lind was forgetting his place and pressing to repeat his 2009 success, but the measly $2.44 Lind earned in 2010 couldn’t compare to his $21 season in 2009 (you can now see both numbers in PFM's new capability to provide values from earlier seasons).
In 2011, Lind improved slightly, upping his return to $7.55, though BABIP muffled those gains in a case of true bad luck and not just weak hitting; he set a career best line drive rate of 22 percent in 2010. Last season’s poor .255/.314/.414 triple-slash can be partly blamed on a bad back, since Lind’s secondary stats show him returning to more patient ways, and his batting eye improved on nearly every pitch from the previous two seasons. Chris Lund at THT suggests that weak mechanics could be the culprit behind both Lind’s mediocrity and his back injuries, which have kept him off the field for about a month apiece in 2011 and 2012.
While it’s heartening to see Lind improving his plate discipline, his recent injury history and inconsistency far outweigh any optimism created by these statistical improvements. And no matter how well he did, whether in 2009 or 2011, Lind has never figured out southpaws, sporting a career deficit of 229 points against them; the platoon splits on his BP Player Card show that this hasn’t changed much over the past four seasons. He’s shown enough talent to merit a spot in “Super Deep” leagues, and he could be a good bargain buy on draft day, but there’s little in his recent performance for most owners to use a keeper spot on.