Friday 5 July 2013

Familiar Patterns, or Fun with Arbitrary Endpoints

I'm not sure if you remember this guy.  He looks a lot like the guy who was tearing the cover off the ball for about a month or so not too long ago, but it isn't.  It's actually a guy who I've pleaded and begged the Jays' front office to DFA and give up on about a hundred times.  That guy, right up there, is Adam Lind, at some point in 2011 or earlier, when he was terrible at baseball (from an MLB standpoint).

Lind had a good season in 2009.  We all knew this already.  In 2010-2012, he hit .246/.296/.428 and walked 99 times over 1400+ plate appearances.  We also knew that, to an extent.  That's probably decent production for a shortstop, catcher, and maybe a CF who plays good defense.  Not for a 1B/DH, who doesn't even do that well.

Ok, great.  We've beaten the "Adam Lind sucked from 2010-2012" horse long past it's time, regardless of how frustrated we were.  But it's 2013 now, and Adam Lind is good, with a .316/.375/.528 slash line.  All is forgiven, right?

Well, I wouldn't say so.  You see, I quite enjoy being the bearer of bad news, and am typically the first to point out that I atodaso.  Trailer Park Boys has been confirmed for an 8th season, by the way.

Lind's hot start was probably due to a multitude of different things; I can't really say a whole lot about the approach, any health concerns or lack thereof, or mental and physical fatigue, but here's an interview where he addresses that kind of thing.  As far as quantifiable evidence goes, though, we can see that Lind has a .363 babip on the year, versus a .299 career average, and a 9.3% walk rate, versus a 6.9% career rate.  It probably helps that he was being shielded for a little while against lefties, because he does mash righties pretty well, and being put in a position to succeed rather than fail is always good for a player. As result of all these things (or some of them? none of them?), his batting average and OBP are way up, his isolated slugging is kinda sorta approaching his 2009 one, and altogether, he has a 144 wRC+.

Just watching games early on, I can remember thinking things like "Man, Lind's approach seems a lot better.  He's not just flailing away at everything and SWANGING at everything trying to crush it.  He's waiting for strikes and letting garbage go and actually walking some."  I said something like this, live, from the 500 level on April 21, the day he went 0-for-0 with 4 walks.

About that.

Lind's OBP peaked at .423, June 8th.  From June 9th to present, Lind has walked once, and is batting .268/.274/.537 since.  Sure, that's an .810 OPS, which is certainly effective, in the sense that he's not JP Arencibia.  But on June 8th, Lind had a 13% walk rate, and in a month, that's dropped down to a 9.1% clip.  In other words, a guy with a 13% walk rate went ahead and walked in 1.1% of his plate appearances over a not terribly small sample.*

*According to that link, Lind's 13%  through his first 180-something plate appearances should be pretty stable, or at least stable enough that his true walk rate shouldn't be miles from it over his next random cluster of 84.  Given his career totals, I don't think there was ever any reason to expect him to stay consistent at 13%, per se, but he probably shouldn't go down to 1% over his next ~100 either.

Need more?  Lind had a .387 babip from the start of the year through June 8th.  That's down, slightly, since then to .363.  Since June 9th, Lind's babip is a much more in-line-with-his-career-and-skillset .296, and his slash line over that span looks awfully familiar to his 2010-2012 one mentioned above.

I know that it's not incredibly useful to just look at 20 games and jettison the rest of the season, but I think we've all been agreeing with each other over the last three years, and the little streak he had against lefties early on was just that.  I mean, Vernon Wells would have gone to the all-star game if it were the Mid-April Classic for crying out loud.  Blips happen. Baseball is really random sometimes.

46 PA v. LHP, 213 v. RHP
We shouldn't need to regress the RHP numbers too much-- they're slightly better this year, but nothing outrageous-- but the LHP numbers need to be heavily regressed.  It's a pretty small sample, obviously, but DIPS theory is going to prevail on this one, and I just want everyone to be ready.  I just hope we can get everyone back on the "platoon Lind" train before someone blows a gasket.  Bargaining before depression.

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