Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -
Toronto Blue Jays first baseman/designated hitter Adam Lind finished 15th in AL MVP voting in 2009, but over the last three years he's probably been in the bottom 15 of worst players in the league.
According to FanGraphs, he was worth -0.8 wins above replacement (WAR) from 2010-12 due to a .246 batting average, .724 OPS and a negative ultimate zone rating (UZR).
But Lind is batting .344 with six home runs and a .958 OPS this year. How has he done it?
1. Avoiding lefties - Lind is a career .229 hitter with a .627 OPS against left-handed pitchers, compared to .284 with an .842 OPS against righties. This year, Toronto stuck Lind in a platoon, and it has worked extremely well. He's hitting .319 with a .911 OPS in 141 at-bats against right-handers, and has taken just 22 at-bats against lefties. He has excelled in that limited sample size, however, picking up 11 hits.
2. Newfound plate discipline - Prior to 2013, Lind had a 19.3 percent strikeout rate and a 2.88 K/BB in 2,887 career plate appearances. This year, he has a 16.9 percent strikeout rate and a 1.39 K/BB in 189 plate appearances. Lind is chasing pitches outside the zone at a career-low 23.4 percent rate, and his overall swing rate is down to a career-low rate of 38 percent.
3. Luck - Lind has a solid 21.6 percent line-drive rate, but his .391 batting average on balls in play (BABIP) is indicative of a much higher line-drive rate. Lind is a career .210 hitter on groundballs, but this season he is hitting .290 on grounders.
Lind's fantasy outlook for the rest of the season is cloudy.
The DH is certainly a better hitter now than he has been in years, but he hasn't put up the counting stats fantasy owners are looking for due to his limited playing time. Along with his six home runs, he has just 18 RBI and 26 runs.
Lind has displayed moderate power over the last two years, hitting 17 home runs on 141 fly balls, a HR/FB rate of 12.1 percent.
Lind's best asset is his high batting average, but even with his strong plate discipline and good line-drive rate, the DH can't be expected to maintain his high BABIP. He has no speed and isn't going to bat .290 on groundballs all season.
Fantasy owners can ride out his hot streak -- he's hitting .450 over 40 at-bats in June and .457 over 70 at-bats since May 23 -- and move on.
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