Spring Training stats can be taken with a grain of salt, as they often are not very indicative of how a player will perform in a coming season. Case in point, Ryan Raburn, a man with a career batting line .256 with 54 home runs over the course of 7 Major League seasons, is near the top of all offensive categories in Spring Training. And to add further proof, he’s closely followed by such luminaries as Shane Robinson and Steve Pearce.
Like I said, grain of salt.
Still, for a player that is somewhat of a bubble guy and needs a big season to keep his job, seeing a sense of urgency in camp offers at least a little bit of encouragement. Such is the case with Adam Lind, the Blue Jays first baseman/designated hitter who has fallen under increased scrutiny and now finds his future with the club in question.
Lind will enter Saturday’s action as the Blue Jays’ most efficient hitter this spring, sporting a .455 average with 3 doubles, a home run, and 4 RBI.
Granted, Lind has produced well in Spring Trainings past, only to disappoint in the past few regular seasons, but there are still some encouraging signs to watch. Firstly, Lind is currently hitting .400 against lefties this spring, albeit in only five at bats. It is also worth mentioning that 2 of his 3 strike-outs this spring have come against southpaws. This will continue to be a spot where the Blue Jays evaluate Lind.
Secondly, Lind is hitting the ball sharply, something that may be a carry-over from a strong second-half in 2012, where Lind hit .304 with a .784 OPS. Toronto will be counting on Lind early in the year to not only provide power, but to also make his outs productive. Lind accumulated only 3 sacrifice flies in 2012, but has racked up 2 this spring, and that will be important to carry into the regular season with a line-up ahead of him that promises to get on base at a much higher clip.
As encouraging as his spring has been thus far, it is also worth noting that the pundits are projecting an improvement for Lind in 2013. Noted statistician Bill James sees Lind contributing a .272 average with 22 home runs, 62 RBI, and a .789 OPS, while ZiPS projects Lind at .263 with 22 home runs, 55 RBI, and a .780 OPS. That would put Lind back in line somewhere between his 2010 and 2011 form, a place where the Blue Jays would be more comfortable with his production level, especially while batting him lower in the order.
It comes down to facing the reality that the Blue Jays will never again see the 2009 Adam Lind, one that decidedly overplayed his abilities. Still, Toronto would settle for a slightly lesser version before exercising their $7 million option on him in 2014.