Posts tagged Corey Patterson

Breaking Down Adam Lind

Toronto Blue Jays first baseman Adam Lind (26)
Courtesy of Keith Allison licensed under Creative Commons

If you have been on the site in the past couple of weeks you may have noticed the poll in the sidebar asking you fans which player you think will most likely have a bounce back season in 2012 with the options being Travis Snider, Adam Lind, Colby Rasmus, and Kyle Drabek. As well you also may know a couple of weeks ago I mused about Travis Snider and what the future may hold for such a peculiar player. To continue on in the list this week the post will go over Adam Lind and what the future may hold for him.

Before last year Adam Lind was the exact type of player both Blue Jays fans and fantasy baseball gurus alike expected to make a comeback performance. From a fantasy perspective that comeback performance was definitely prevalent with Lind having been among the leagues elite in terms of RBIs before his back injury that occurred in May, but on a hitting level did Lind really start the year strong?

His RBI total may make you think otherwise, but according to wRC+ Lind wasn’t even an above average hitter in April. Instead he hit to a 99 wRC+ (average is 100) and was even below the likes of Corey Patterson (Ugh). The RBI total was instead a result of the fact that the hitter in front of Lind at that point, Jose Bautista, was the best hitter in the league and was getting on base more than 50% of the time. If I was in Lind’s position, I bet even I could have gotten a few RBIs.

Once you look at the season as whole it really doesn’t become any more impressive. Yes, Lind did up his home run total to 26, but he also he also produced a sub .300 OBP and an fWAR that ranked 4th last among qualified first basemen. As you can plainly see those are not good numbers and they probably don’t warrant any praise. Instead all the 2011 season has done is make the 2009 season seem more of an outlier and the 2012 season that much more difficult to project.

For starters where does one lay the blame for the lack of production. Obviously Lind hasn’t gotten back to the 35 home runs he hit in 2009, nor has he reached his .305 batting average, but most importantly Lind hasn’t reached the .370 OBP and 8.9 BB% that he had in 2009. Since that wondrous year Lind hasn’t mustered enough to get within 75 points of that OBP and his best walk rate is just a little more than half of his 2009 numbers.

What is the reason for this? A change in approach? Maybe. Poor hitting skills? Another possibility, but most interestingly though is that when looking at some of the Pitch F/X plate discipline stats on Lind’s FanGraphs page one thing that stood out was Lind’s O-Swing%. Last year his O-Swing% had a small uptick to 35.9%, which is roughly a couple percent above his 2010 stats and quite a bit above his 2009 ones and that is precisely where the concern lies.

In comparison, in 2009 Lind’s O-Swing% was the lowest of his career and by a pretty wide margin. That year Lind managed to resist many outside pitches  and put up a 27.9 O-Swing%, a number that is more than 5% off his career average. For the pitches Lind did swing at outside the strike zone, he made contact with over 3/4 of them and put up a percentage that is again much better than his career average. Additionally in 2011 Lind posted the lowest Zone% of his career at 46.9%, essentially meaning pitchers are giving Lind more pitches outside the zone, but as shown with his O-Swing% he is still swinging at the pitches, that is never a good thing. The graphics below give you a better representation.

Pitches Lind swung at in 2009
Pitches Lind swung at in 201

The difference does not seem to be too large at first glance, but if you really look at the two graphics you can see the change between 2009 and 2011. In the 2009 graphic the pitches are more concentrated on the middle with fewer swings outside the zone, while on the other hand in the 2011 graphic the pitches swing at are less concentrated in the middle and more are outside the zone. More than anything you can see how Lind’s batting eye has changed be it a result of approach or regression, they both end the same.

Specifically one thing though that is noticeable in the statistics is Lind’s consistent decrease in pitches per plate appearance. In 2009 Lind saw an average of 4.03 pitches per plate appearance or P/PA. In 2010 that same number dropped to 3.81 and in 2011 it was a lowly 3.54, not a good trend. What I believe to be the reasoning behind the drop is a clear change in first pitch approach. Through some Pitch F/X calculations it was found that in 2009 Lind swung at 15.2% of first pitches, in 2010 that number almost doubled to 29.2% and in 2011 it remained for the most part unchanged at 28.2%.

In 2009 when Lind got more pitches thrown to him he was able to have more success because he could wait for the pitch he wanted, but in 2011 seeing less pitches did not afford him that luxury. More than anything what all of this alludes to is most likely one of two things, either Lind has been told to swing more at pitches he likes or he simply lacks the batting eye that he had in 2009. I’m willing to bet the its a combination of the two based on some of his contact rates and swing percentages, but whatever the case it will effect Lind going forward.

If Lind has the same batting eye and approach in 2012 that he has had the past two years you likely won’t see too much improvement. The batting average will presumably come up a little from where it was in 2011 because his BABIP suggests he was at the least somewhat unlucky, but beyond that I don’t know how you can expect more. Some people may tell you that Adam Lind was hindered by his back injury and that he will easily bounce back to form in 2012, but in 2010 Lind had little to no injury problems and still sucked and this year his best hitting month came the month after he got back from his injury.

In order for Lind to truly get back to his peak season he will have to more of what he did in 2009. That would include swinging at less pitches outside the zone, waiting for his pitch, regaining some opposite field power and much more. Those changes would presumably be able to propel Lind to great heights, but with the 2009 season being the only one in which Lind excelled at all three of those areas it isn’t looking good for 2012.

Despite the objective evidence I’m sure you will still see some believers, but I’m not one of them. I’m also not one to suggest the Jays should have signed Pujols or Fielder to replace Lind, but when a certain Torontonian *cough* Joey Votto *cough* comes on the trade market or to free agency I’d bet an improving Jays team takes a shot at him. Until then I’m guessing we will have to live with an underachieving bat at a prime offensive position, with our only hope the prospect of obtaining Votto and Farrell’s realization that Lind is not a #3 or #4 hitter.

Blue Jays Biggest Trade Chip?

Toronto Blue Jays second baseman Aaron Hill (2)
Photo by Keith Allison licensed under Creative Commons
At this point in the year it is saddening to say, but also safe to say that the Blue Jays will be sellers at this years trade deadline. But then the question is who to trade, because the Jays team right now consists of mainly young guys who hold the future of the team and the Jays definitely aren’t in firesale mode so guys like Lind and Romero won’t be traded. Though in my eyes the guys that the Jays could trade include Jon Rauch, Octavio Dotel, Frank Francisco, Jason Frasor, Aaron Hill, Corey Patterson, and Carlos Villaneuva. Some of the guys on this list may be a little unlikely, but with the silent assassin as our general manager, you never know what could happen.
Jon Rauch, Octavio Dotel
The reason that I clump these two guys together is that they are pretty similar in terms of play and contract. Both have about a 4.00 ERA and both their xFIPs suggest that their ERAs should be higher. Regarding the contracts of Dotel and Rauch, they are fairly similar both have the two players making about $3 million this year along with $3.5 million options for next. The options may be appealing to a team because it gives them an extra year of control and still at a formidable price. Some teams these guys could be shipped off to includes Detroit, St. Louis, and Texas, all teams who could use some bullpen help. These two are probably the more likely bullpen pieces to be traded. Though Anthopolous surely won’t be giving either of these guys away as they do have an extra year of control and both project to be Type B free agents.Frank Francisco, Jason Frasor
The reason I clump Francisco and Frasor together is because they too have contract similarities, as well they are two players I believe are more unlikely to be traded. The contracts of these two guys are one year each with no options at about $3.75 million a piece. Why I don’t see them being traded is in Francisco’s case, it seems like the Jays believe that he is and should be their closer, which I don’t necessarily agree with, but whatever. As well it will be hard to trade away Frasor who has the longest tenure with the Jays of all current Blue Jays. Also the Jays need at least one solid bullpen piece to somewhat hold late leads. Even if the Jays do trade away Frasor, I know it will be a hard loss, but I think he would resign with them in the offseason.

Aaron Hill
We all know the story of Aaron Hill. The once great player, whose career seemed to have its climax in 2009, with everything after just getting worse and worse. I wrote more about this in the previous article “The Rise of One, The Fall of Another”. But as I stated in that article I would welcome the trading of Hill to whatever team still believes in him. Though as I also stated I don’t see that being a likely possibility. The reasons being as I stated that the Jays are weak when it comes to middle infielders, with only Hech in the higher part of the farm system. Then the fact that the 2B free agent class this year isn’t great, though Anthopolous has had interest in the past in one free agent second basemen Kelly Johnson. But Johnson isn’t exactly having an All-Star year either. So it leaves the Jays with the realization that if they trade Hill they won’t have anything else to fill the spot other than John Macdonald who is great defensively, but isn’t stellar with the bat.

Corey Patterson
Now to Corey, the former top prospect who never really panned out. The Jays saw him and gave him a shot with a minor league contract this year. Earlier in the year it didn’t look bad because Patterson was performing and we were able to plug his bat into the lineup every once in a while with Snider and Bautista manning the corner outfield spots. Then Snider was demoted to AAA to “revamp” his swing. This left us with the understanding that we would have to plug either Juan or Corey into left field and we really couldn’t afford Juan’s catcher like figure trying to run around and attempt to adequately fill left field. So this left us with Corey Patterson, a guy who really shouldn’t be a major league starter, but the Jays were almost forced to plug his bat into the lineup everyday. Though now that we have Thames and Snider in Toronto and Loewen in Vegas, we really have no need for Patterson and we can trade him away. He probably wouldn’t bring much value but there is still teams who would give away a lower tier prospect for him. As was said in a Fangraphs article he could be this year’s Cody Ross. Teams that may try to get Patterson includes the Diamondbacks and the Braves, both playoff contenders in need of an extra bat.

Carlos Villaneuva
Now finally to Carlos Villaneuva, a pitcher that I have heard no body really talk about in terms of trade, but a guy who is 5-1 with a 3.24 ERA  should garner some interest. Especially when teams know that the Jays may be looking to shed a pitcher whether its Jo-Jo or Villaneuva. Because the Jays have 2 guys in Litsch and Drabek who could be pitching in the majors come August as well as a stocked farm system with such top prospects as Zach Stewart, Henderson Alvarez, and Deck McGuire. So shedding a guy like Villaneuva who is pitching much better than he should be according to his xFIP of 4.13 wouldn’t be such a bad thing, if the team is overpaying. If the Jays could get even a C level prospect for him than that would be more than enough. As well the fact that he only makes less than a million this year helps out. Teams like Cleveland, Detroit, and Arizona.

I think that our overall biggest trade chip would have to be Carlos Villaneuva, just based on the way he has played this year and I do think that he could help a contending team such as Arizona who has been known to be looking to add smaller pieces at the deadline. Other guys who I do expect to be traded include Corey Patterson and Jon Rauch. The other guys still could get traded, but I think with the situation that those guys are in and how they both excelled early, they would be most likely to go. Though none of these trade chips will net us any top shelf picks, but they can still get some positive contributors to our farm system. Because you never know what you have in a player until you can fully evaluate him yourself and as Jose Bautista has shown, anything can happen.

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