With the All-Star break upon us, we’re now left with four days of complete and utter boredom. What are we going to do without checking on our teams every thirty seconds, aside from resist the urge to become a Chronic Mastertrader? No, really, I don’t have any advice for you. In fact, I’m asking you. Also, with the All-Star break comes a strange schedule; some leagues will feature matchups for just this weekend’s games, others will conclude on the 22nd. Since this is a weekly post, I’m going to focus on games taking place this weekend, but I will take a peek at next week’s games as well.
Without further ado, week 15’s Creeper is the third Blue Jay profiled in this column, Adam Lind. Considering he was sent to the minors after hitting .186 in the first month and a half of the season, Lind is fairly well owned, at a 25% clip in ESPN leagues and a 26% rate in Yahoo leagues. The Blue Jays will get a three-game tilt at home against the Indians in week 15, all against right-handed pitching. For a quick recap, the Rogers Centre is pretty generous to lefties, with Statcorner providing a 112 HR park factor, and Fangraphs noting a 5% boost in HR over league average. For owners looking toward next week, Lind and the Jays travel to New York for a three game set. New Yankee Stadium is the most generous HR park in baseball for LHB, and it’s not hard to imagine why — take the dimensions of Fenway’s Green Monster and shrink the wall by nearly 30 feet in height. That’s right field in Yankee Stadium. For now, the Yankees have set their rotation to include two RHP, with Sabathia providing a rest day for Lind.
Justin Masterson, Ubaldo Jimenez, and Derek Lowe have all had serious problems with opposite-handed batters this season, and as luck would have it, are slated to face Lind and the Jays this week. Masterson has always had difficulties with lefties (career 1.48 K/BB, 10.9% HR/FB, 4.50 FIP), and this season is no exception — 6 of his 9 HR allowed have been hit by LHB. Compared to Justin’s 8.89 K/9 and 2.80 BB/9 versus same-handed batters, his 5.85 K/9 and 4.50 BB/9 marks against lefties are rather unimpressive. Jimenez has traditionally been pretty tough on opposite-handed bats, with a slightly elevated walk rate (career 4.49 BB/9 vs L, 3.56 vs R) being his only issue. A spike in his flyball rate against lefties, to 42.9%, has led to Ubaldo allowing 1.60 HR/9. Taken in tandem with a 6.04 BB/9, it’s little surprise he’s carrying a 6.03 FIP versus LHB. Derek Lowe has actually walked more lefties than he’s struck out this season (20 BB, 16 K), and owns a 12.5% HR/FB when squaring off against LHB. Phil Hughes has allowed 13 HR in 54.2 home innings, and Hiroki Kuroda owns a 4.59 FIP versus lefties. In short, it’s hard to conceive of a better run of matchups for Lind, who has hit .279 with 95 HR in 1842 career at-bats versus right-handed pitching.
Most of Lind’s early season struggles were related to hitting only 29.7% of batted balls in the air in April. Lind has very little speed, so not only does hitting balls into the ground reduce home run potential, it also leads to many outs. Since his call up in June, he’s put 48.4% of batted balls into the air, and in doing so has hit 4 HR in 46 plate appearances. One constant in Lind’s season has been his contact rate on pitches in the strike zone — at 93.1%, it’s a career high. He’s produced a 93% clip since being brought back up, and his improved rates have led to a career best 6.6% swinging strike rate. He’ll be hard pressed to hit higher than .250 with his batted ball profile, but a potential reduction from his current 19.7% K rate — he put up a 16.8% K rate with a 7.2% swinging strike rate in 2009 — could place him near his career average of .263 moving forward.
With excellent matchups in a short week, Adam Lind should play well at CI or at U. With a series at Yankee Stadium to open next week, he’s a solid play for those in leagues that include next week’s games in their current matchup, too.