As the playoffs and award season gets underway, we want to take a gander at some players who had outstanding seasons in 2009 but whose teams ended up just shy of making the postseason and who will (most likely) not pick up any fancy trophies. Quite a consolation prize: a round of golf and a write-up on a low circulation sports blog.
Next up, Adam Lind, as written by yours truly.
Forgive me for saying this, Blue Jays fans and Muncie, Indiana natives alike, but your blossoming super slugger Adam Lind reminds me of a young Jason Giambi. I am not implying any connection to steroids or golden thongs whatsoever, but to me, the similarity is uncanny.
Despite his absence from the New York baseball sphere of influence, Giambi remains one of my favorite players to follow. Few players can match his willingness or his ability to draw a walk and literally clog the bases with his barrel-chesty massiveness. Sometimes, he can even knock a dinger!
So when the Blue Jays hired Cito Gaston halfway through the 2008 campaign and brought on a new era of young mashers in Toronto, I immediately compared young Adam Lind to old Jason Giambi in my mind's eye. Their stats may not match up quite yet; Lind is nowhere near his prime, and Giambi may be nothing more than an over-hyped pinch-walker, but I was fascinated nonetheless.
Giambi made his name by mashing homers and using his keen eye to follow sliders right out of the strike zone, thus drawing walks with reckless abandon. Stop clogging the bases! This year, Lind took his next big boy steps towards becoming that Three True Outcomes guy.
Lind's on-base percentage improved from a poor .278 in his rookie campaign in 2007 to a mediocre .316 last year to a stout .370 this year. He's had the opportunity to watch more pitches whiz by his improving eye: he's seen more than a quarter more pitchers per at-bat in 2009 than he did last season. Most importantly, he kept his percentage of plate appearances ending in a strikeout constant while improving that walk rate. He's not watching fastballs burn him on the corner any worse than your average slugger.
Lind finished the year 4th in the AL in SLG (.562), 7th in OPS (.932) and 3rd in RBI (114). He ended up behind only Mark Teixeira in extra base hits thanks to his 35 homers and whopping 46 doubles. Unfortunately, his similarities to Giambi don't end with his plate patience. Fella simply cannot operate a glove with any adeptness. In 475 innings this season in left field, he made just 80 putouts and recorded but one assist. Fella will end up a first baseman or a designated hitter; luckily his bat is more than powerful enough to keep his value high. Powerful enough to hit three tater tots in a game, actually.
Even more excitingly, the man is totally cooking with gas:
"Throughout the summer, or basically from February until the beginning of October -- the end of October, maybe -- everything is made for you, so you kind of get sick of not getting to choose what you get to eat. When I get home, especially the first month and a half, I pretty much make every meal. My girlfriend enjoys cooking, too.
Well, his teammates worsening offense prevented any action deep into October, but at least he's got his All Clad cookware and imported olive oils to warm him up through those cold Muncie nights.