I picked up Adam Lind in my fantasy league off waivers in the first week of the 2009 Fantasy Season. Why? Because I felt expectations were low and had too much speed, and not enough power. The point here is that he was available. Nobody picked him up as they thought there were better options out there, and who could blame them? He has just had a very mediocre 2008 with 9 HRs (in 326 ABs) that showed some potential, but also with mediocre .316 OBP/.439 SLG/.755 OPS. Most had given up on him reaching his potential, despite Baseball America’s rating of Lind as the #1 prospect the Jays had in 2007. That’s a pretty quick downfall and upswing….isn’t it? From #1 Jays prospect in ’07, to not being selected in most fantasy leagues in ’08, to 30+ HRs and fantasy glory in ’09!
So here we are in spring training of ’10. Travis Snider, who is built very much like Adam Lind is with a heavy lower half, has a lackluster start to spring training. He was not just rated as the #1 Jays prospect as Lind was, he was named “The Franchise” because of how special his bat is. Everyone had Snider on their top 20 prospect list before ’09 came around, a much higher ranking than Lind ever got. As the spring goes on, and Snider’s adjustments take hold, he brings out more power and starts to hit more consistently. He just had a streak of 3 HRs in 3 consecutive ABs and has increased his spring average to .290. Even if spring stats do not mean anything, and Snider still faces an uphill battle to proving himself, is this indicative of a new beginning that resembles Adam Lind‘s 2009? Yes, it is.
Adam Lind ’08 stats (age 24): 326 AB, 92 hits, 16 doubles, 9 HRs, 40 RBI, .282 avg, .316 OBP
Travis Snider ’09 stats (age 21): 241 AB, 58 hits, 14 doubles, 9 HRs, 29 RBI, .241 avg, .328 OBP
When you compare these 2 years of performances, the biggest standouts are the fact that Snider was 3 years younger than Lind, that he hit as many HRs despite having 85 fewer ABs, and that his OBP was actually better than Lind’s before his breakout season. That comparison is where my optimism stems from. Well, that and the admission by Snider that he was blocking coaches out and observation by many that he’s matured 10-fold since then.
The best indication of this is the fact that Snider has earned Cito Gaston‘s praise and will likely move up in the lineup as a result. That leads to more ABs, more comfort while in the box, and more opportunities to drive in runs. We then add in the presence of Randy Ruiz, who has awesome power potential, and we see that Snider’s role has changed significantly. In 2009, expectations were that he was going to step in and be a #3 or #4 hitter right away, driving in a minimum of 25 HRs. Well, when that kind of pressure is on a 21 year old guy who doesn’t have much MLB experience, it takes its toll. It wasn’t expected that Aaron Hill and Adam Lind would explode as they did, and I think that will also help Snider in 2010, because between Ruiz, Hill, and Lind, the Jays have enough power to simply ask Snider to drive the ball hard and to not worry about the number of dingers he hits. That, my friends, is exactly when the power does come, when players stop worrying about it and let the stick do the work. Snider has enough raw power that he doesn’t need to aim for the fences, and I believe the 2010 edition knows this and trusts this more than the 2009 edition.
I’m a huge Travis Snider fan. I believe that he has hand-eye coordination that can’t be taught and that despite the troubles he had in 2009, he will become a better hitter than Adam Lind. I also believe that the Jays have something very special for the future in the middle of their lineup with the combination of Brett Wallace and Travis Snider. A 2012 lineup of Adeiny Hechevarria, Aaron Hill, Brett Wallace, Travis Snider, Adam Lind, Vernon Wells, and whoever thereafter should be enough to give opposing teams nightmares. Adam Lind is perfect for the #5 spot and has stated he is more comfortable in the #3 or #5 spots than cleanup anyhow.
I still want Cito to play Snider higher up in the lineup. If Cito keeps Snider in the 8-9 spots as he gets hot, I won’t be surprised but will be very annoyed. To deny the growth of his potential would be inexcusable for the Jays, so let’s cross our fingers and hope it’s nothing to worry about.
My 2010 prediction for Snider: 39 doubles, 32 HRs, 115 RBIs, .297 average, and a .372 OBP. Draft as stats indicate (if you trust my prediction, which is optimistic to say the least!)
So here I am, ready for the 2010 edition of my auction style fantasy league and with the opportunity to keep Travis Snider at a cost of $2. Of course I’ll keep him, with a massive smirk across my face and the hope that a .300 average with 30 Hrs and 100 plus RBIs is not out of the question. At $2, how can I go wrong? He’ll join Dexter Fowler and Colby Rasmus to fill 3 of my 5 OF spots, talk about a young and potential filled OF!
Do I believe that Travis Snider is the 2010 version of the 2009 version of Adam Lind? You bet I do, that and perhaps even more.