April 16, 2009

Several players have gotten off to hot starts this year, few hotter than Blue Jays left fielder/designated hitter Adam Lind. Through his first eight games, he is batting .400 with three home runs and twelve RBI. When a relatively unknown like Lind does get off on one of those starts, the question on most people minds is: "Is he going to be good throughout the season, or is this a one week fling?" Fortunately, we can tell you which players to buy and which to sell by examining them with our arsenal of stats.

For Lind, his past three years in the majors looked like this:

Looking at the half-a-season he played in the majors last year, it appears Lind had decent plate discipline and power skills, but let's look closer at his skill set, starting with his power.

If you're new to THT Fantasy Focus and are unfamiliar with True Home Runs (tHR) or any of the other stats I'm using, check out our quick reference guide. These stats provide a much clearer picture of a player's talent, so it's well worth taking a couple of minutes to learn them.

Lind's unluckiness with home runs in 2007 was noted in the original article introducing True Home Runs (tHR) and it appears he was unlucky again in 2008. The point of looking at these stats, however, is not to determine whether Lind was unlucky in the past; it is to know his true skill set so we can predict what he will do in the future.

By taking a rough average of his 2007 and 2008 power numbers and also including his minor league numbers in the mix, we can expect Lind to hit outfield flyballs (OF FB%) at about a thirty percent rate, and have about eighteen percent of those flyballs go for home runs. Over a season's worth of at bats, hitting at those ratios Lind would knock about thirty home runs.

We cannot be sure exactly what his OF FB percentage and HR/FB percentage will be (especially considering that we're dealing with the equivalent of a single season of at-bats for most players), but a range of anywhere between 25 to 35 home runs really wouldn't be unexpected of Lind (it helps that he has three already). That is certainly impressive for someone who went undrafted in many leagues.

As someone who will not get stolen bases, Lind's value hinges on his ability to maintain a high average.

On the surface, based on his True Batting Average (tBA), Lind seems capable of posting a batting average around .290. Before that number is set in stone though, lets peer over at his plate discipline stats to see what is going on over there.

Lind has below-average judgment of what pitches to swing at (Judgment X) but does a good job of making contact on the ones he does swing at (Bat Control, Bad Ball). I'd say the best thing Lind has going for him is that he will turn 26 years old this year and is playing in what looks like will be his first full major league season. Therefore, maturation instead of deterioration of these skills is the more likely path.

Overall Lind does not have the best plate discipline but with his tendencies to hit lots of grounders and line drives, and flyballs that go over the fence, Lind is able to keep his BABIP relatively high, inflating his batting average. A batting average in the high .280s seems reasonable given his skill set, although he has the potential to push a .300 average.

The Blue Jays do not have the greatest of lineups but Lind, batting mostly fifth, figures to come up to the plate often enough with runners on base to rack up the RBIs. Lind probably will not break 75 runs and definitely won't get more than a stolen base or two, but he figures to be a solid three-category threat nonetheless.

With his burst out of the gate, the secret is already out on Lind. If you own him (as I do in all three leagues I am in this year) good for you; I would hold onto him. If you missed out on him, talk to whoever does own him. Maybe they think he is a one-hit wonder and are looking to "sell high" on him.

Given my expectations for Lind in 2009, he is someone worth owning in what has the looking of a breakout year.

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