Golly gee gosh darn it! Another walk!
John Lott of the National Post filed a story on Adam Lind last night, speaking with the 1B/DH about ending the season with a solid little September– a relatively nifty turnaround after having reached the nadir of his professional career with a demotion to Las Vegas at the end of May. In the piece Lind addresses what he believes was the key to his turnaround, and it’s… um… interesting.
And by “interesting,” I mean positively Cito-esque.
“I think the walk is a little overrated,” he says.
“Sometimes there’s an environment around here that people want us to walk. You just can’t do that with the pitching you’re facing in this league, in this division,” he explains.
Sure. Y’know, as long as you forget that among the top 30 in walk rate among qualified hitters in the American League this year are Mike Trout, Miguel Cabrera, Ben Zobrist, Joe Mauer, Adam Dunn, Edwin Encarnacion, Josh Willingham, Prince Fielder, Nick Swisher, Curtis Granderson, Austin Jackson, Shin-Soo Choo, Mark Teixeira, Matt Wieters, Alex Gordon, Josh Hamilton and Paul Konerko.
Oh yeah, and had he qualified, Jose Bautista’s rate would have ranked third– the same as it did in 2010– after leading the AL in 2011.
Aaaand with enough at-bats Evan Longoria would have been in there too.
But other than for a shit-tonne of the best hitters in the league, walks are totally an untenable proposition for a hitter trying to succeed in this league.
Now, I will grant that there are plenty of fine hitters who do more than get by with below average walk rates– Adrian Beltre, Yoenis Cespedes, Billy Butler, Albert Pujols, Torii Hunter, Adam Jones and Alex Rios are all in the top 20 in AL wRC+ with below league average walk rates. And it’s not like bad hitters don’t have great walk rates either– Kelly Johnson, Carlos Pena, Alberto Callaspo, Jemile Weeks and Jamey Carroll are all among the leaders, too.
It’s just… come on.
And then there’s this:
“When you go in thinking walk-first, you can take some of the aggressiveness away from the hitter,” Farrell said. “Ideally, you’d like to see controlled aggression [and] pitch recognition. To me the definition of a disciplined hitter [is], what does he do on the 3-2 pitch? Does he chase a breaking ball on a 3-2 count or does he take it and take his walk?”
Lind says he prefers not to get that far in the count.
I mean, obviously a walk-first approach makes no sense– nobody would, or has, ever argued that a walk is better than a hit– and if Lind needs to be aggressive to be successful, it is what it is. But… is it? After all, the best season of his career by far happens to have coincided with his best walk rate as a Major Leaguer.
Far more importantly, though, is the fact that Lind has posted a 92 wRC+ and been worth -0.2 fWAR over his last 1500 plate appearances– fifteen hundred fucking plate appearances!– which kinda makes the notion that he has any kind of fucking answer to unlock his latent productivity a little preposterous.
Not to mention pointless to bother articulating at this stage. After all, it’s difficult to see him coming back to the Jays unless things go terribly wrong for the club this winter– especially after Alex Anthopoulos didn’t include him among the players he sees as assured to return next year. In Lott’s piece, it seems he sees the writing on the wall, too.
“I hope I have the opportunity to stick around and be part of the 2013 Blue Jays,” he said. Then he chuckled, and, thinking of his recent surge with the bat, added: “When you do good, your trade value probably goes up, so we’ll see.”
Trade value? You never know, I guess. And shit, a change of scenery has done wonders for Aaron Hill this season, and Alex Rios is finally acting like the player everybody thought he was capable of being, so maybe it’s not crazy to think that Lind too could capture whatever potential has been rotting away these last three years. It’d be great to see him do it, even– almost as great as it would be to not see him given another damn chance to do it here.