A look at the Rotographs preseason positional rankings makes Adam Lind look like a moderate bargain. Our experts had him as the No. 21 first baseman, and he finished 2015 at No. 14. However, our experts were much higher on Lind than most fantasy players.
Lind was — rather astonishingly — the No. 40 1B selected in Yahoo drafts in 2015. He was drafted in 90 percent of leagues, but his average draft position made him an absolute steal in the 22nd round. He outperformed his 242.7 ADP in dramatic fashion, finishing the season as fantasy baseball’s No. 109 overall player.
It’s easy to understand why Lind was overlooked in drafts this year. He was coming off an injury-shortened season that saw him hit just six home runs in 318 plate appearances. While he was just two years removed from his .288/.357/.497, 23-homer season in 2013, he had played only 93 games in 2012, with a .255 AVG and 11 homers.
There were plenty of positive signs for Lind that likely took a back seat to his injury concerns, and I can’t completely blame fantasy owners for feeling that way. Still, Lind had slowly developed into an excellent on-base guy in a rather amazing progression:
- 2010: .237/.287/.425
- 2011: .251/.295/.439
- 2012: .255/.314/.414
- 2013: .288/.357/.497
- 2014: .321/.381/.479
Additionally, even when dealing with his chronic back problems, Lind’s isolated power has never dipped below .156 in any season of his career. However, his injury history was impossible to ignore, and the fact that he was moving from Toronto to Milwaukee meant he could no longer rest his back from time to time as a designated hitter.
When the dust settled, Lind played a nearly injury-free season. He logged 572 PA – his highest total since 2010 – and played in 149 games, just two games shy of his career high. Playing the field every day didn’t seem to have any negative effect on Lind’s health or production.
He finished the year hitting .277/.360/.460, while putting up his fifth 20-homer season. He drove in 87 runs and scored 72 – both of those totals were his highest since way back in 2009. Also, he posted an 11.5% walk rate, quite easily the best mark of his career.
While his total numbers were solid across the board, he was a much more valuable fantasy commodity if used correctly. I owned Lind in two leagues this year, and I sat him every single time he faced a lefty – he hit .221/.277/.298 with zero homers in 112 PA, his most playing time against lefties since 2011.
As a 1B/Util, it’s extremely easy to structure a fantasy roster that allows owners to bench Lind against southpaws. Facing right-handers, Lind mashed to the tune of .291/.380/.503, hitting all 20 of his homers and 24 doubles in 460 PA.
Despite all this, it’s already apparent that Lind won’t get much love next year. He missed the cut on CBS’ top-20 1B list for 2016, and slid in at No. 23 over on ESPN. While I personally feel like he’s being underranked, I will concede that his chronic back problems are still a significant concern, even after a full healthy season.
Health worries or not, it’s pretty crazy to think that a guy who hit .277 with 20 HR, 87 RBI and 72 R – with 66 walks and 100 strikeouts – will be considered a ‘sleeper’ pick again next year, but that’s the reality with Lind. He won’t come as cheaply as he did in 2015, but he’s still projecting to be a strong value pick.
Lind’s 2016 home is up in the air at the moment. The Brewers could pick up his reasonable $8 million option and roll with Lind for another season, but on the other hand, a 32-year-old first baseman probably isn’t a priority for a rebuilding franchise.
No matter where he ends up, I have the feeling he’ll find his way onto several of my rosters next season. For me, his elite production against right-handed pitching outweighs concerns over another back flare-up.
Scott Strandberg started writing for Rotographs in 2013. He works in small business consultation, and he also writes A&E columns for The Norman Transcript newspaper. Scott lives in Seattle, WA.