Adam Lind has been a still spot in the turning world of the Toronto Blue Jays over the past nine seasons, and showed in 2014 that he is still one of the team’s most talented hitters. Now 31, the 3rd Round pick from 2004 battled several injuries through the season which impacted his power numbers. Lind is a notorious masher of right-handed pitching, but has struggled greatly against lefties, and 2014 was no different. Entering the offseason, do the Blue Jays believe that Lind’s power will return in 2015 as a regular member of their lineup, or will his limitations leave him stuck in a platoon role at first base?
Adam Lind, against right-handed pitching anyways, is a professional hitter. This means that Lind is patient at the plate, knows how to seek out the pitch he wants in an at bat, and can hit the ball to the opposite field. If a situation arises where the Blue Jays need a sac fly, or ground ball to the right side of the infield, I am very confident with Adam Lind at the plate.
If Lind were able to face right-handed pitching every night, he would be a clear-cut All Star first baseman. Although his home run totals were down this season, his slugging percentage did sit very close to his career average as he raked in doubles. Striking out just 37 times compared to 24 walks is also a very encouraging sign, and one of many reasons that I see Lind’s success continuing in the coming years. If more Blue Jays hitters took his approach to the plate, this would be a better ball club.
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Unfortunately, when a lefty hits the mound, Adam Lind is either on the bench or grounding out. His 2014 splits show a very exaggerated representation of this, while his career slash line against LHP sits at .212 / .257 / .331.
Some argue that the Blue Jays should roll Adam Lind out for a full season, and let him use his baseball IQ to “figure out” left-handed pitching. I’m not entirely against the idea, but in a league where every win matters, I don’t want to see the Jays fielding a sub-par roster as part of a reclamation project. As he is today, Adam Lind needs to be platooned. On most rosters, this is not a problem. However, the Blue Jays were forced into quite a few platoon situations last season, and having too many “half-players” on the roster can weigh a team down.
Lind has a team option for 2015 with a price tag of $7.5M, with a $1M buyout option. Given Lind’s history in with the Blue Jays, and the fact that he is a left-handed bat and a proven commodity, I fully expect Alex Anthopoulos to pick this option up. Adam Lind has hinted at his frustrations with Toronto’s losing ways in his often-unfiltered interviews, but I do believe he is a player with meaningful roots in the city and community.
That being said, Lind could be one of the more interesting names in trade talks if Anthopoulos chooses that route for re-shaping his 2015 roster. I certainly don’t believe the Blue Jays will pick up Lind’s option just to actively shop him, but if I am an opposing GM in trade talks with Toronto, the ability to add such a dominant LH bat is something I would certainly want to explore in a package.
Assuming Lind starts 2015 as the Toronto Blue Jays first baseman, as he should, it will likely continue to be in a platoon role. There are numerous possibilities for how this could happen. If the Jays add a bat to hit lefties out of the DH spot, perhaps Edwin Encarnacion could see some more time at 1B when a left-handed pitcher is on the mound. On the roster right now, Danny Valencia could make sense as a strict 1B platoon, as well. In 2014, Valencia slashed .321 / .371 / .464 against lefties. He does not have the power than you would like out of a first baseman, but paired with Lind, the two could combine to give the Blue Jays great production from the position.