May 1, 2012
The content of this letter has been a long time coming, but was finally compelled by the events of this evening's 6th inning. The Jays started the inning down 6-4, with roughly a 27% win expectancy. After back to back walks to lead-off the inning, Adam Lind came to the plate and the win expectancy had spiked to approximately 42%. At this point, your counterpoint Ron Washington went to his bullpen to bring in his only lefty. Why would he burn his only lefty in the 6th inning of a close game? Well, I'm sure you're aware of the numbers, but for completeness:
Adam Lind, 2009 v. RHP: 475 PA, .317/.389/.602, 28HR, 47/64 BB/K, 154 wRC+
Adam Lind, 2009 v. LHP: 179 PA, .275/.318/.461, 7HR, 11/46 BB/K, 100 wRC+
Adam Lind, 2010 v. RHP: 468 PA, .275/.327/.502, 21HR, 33/93 BB/K, 121 wRC+
Adam Lind, 2010 v. LHP: 145 PA, .117/.158/.182, 2HR, 5/52 BB/K, -15 wRC (!)
Adam Lind, 2011 v. RHP: 393 PA, .253/.303/.468, 23HR, 27/71 BB/K, 105 wRC+
Adam Lind, 2011 v. LHP: 149 PA, .243/.275/.364, 3HR, 5/36 BB/K, 71 wRC+
Unfortunately, Adam Lind is just not a good hitter against lefties, and even in 2009 when he hit alright against them, he was markedly worse than against RHP. So in a way, what happened tonight when Lind faced the lefty Washington brought shouldn't have been a big surprise: Lind bounced weakly into a double play, and the win expectancy fell to 25%, one swing more than erasing what the two batters had done before him to improve the chance of winning. A great opportunity to score was squandered, though fortunately another rally was mounted in the 7th to take the lead and the Jays won.
Now, I understand the desire to stick with your guy, seeing as he's (at least nominally) the clean-up hitter and has almost two years left on his contract and three team options. But the problem is that this is not the first time this has happened, far from it. Consider the following higher leverage situations (LI >= 2.50) in the 6th inning or later from 2011 and 2012 when a lefty reliever faces Lind:
Tonight: R. Ross, 1st/2nd none out, B6 down two - GIDP
4/27/2012: L. Luetge, 1/2 two out, B8 tied - single
4/19/2012: JP Howell, 1/2/3 two out, B6 down 3 - soft lineout
9/27/2011: C. Sale, runner on 1st one out, B8 up 1 - K swinging
9/22/2011: S. Downs, runner on 1st 1 out, B8, tie game - walk
9/19/2011: S. Downs 1/3 one out, B10 tied - ground out (game winner)
8/14/2011: H. Takahashi, 1/2 one out, B10 tied - flyout
8/14/2011: S. Downs, 1/2 two out, B8 down one - groundout
4/22/2011: C. Ramos, runner on 1st none out, B10, tied - fly out
4/10/2011: H. Takahashi, 1/2 two out, B8 up two - groundout
4/3/2011: G. Perkins, none on none out, B8 down 1 - flyout
The record isn't good, which brings me to the point of this letter. Unfortunately, Adam Lind is not a good hitter against lefties, and lefty relievers in particular eat him alive. As much as I would love for Lind for to figure it out, the record suggests it is very unlikely that patience and more playing time are going to do much. It's one thing to give Lind some at-bats against lefties, it's quite another to have him hitting against them in critical situations, especially behind the best hitters in the line-up. Einstein said the definition of insanity is trying the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. It's time to do something differently.
There's plenty of options. For starters, bumping Lind down in the line-up, at least below Encarnacion to prevent Lind coming up in situations where his splits ca be exploited so often. Pinch hitting with Rajai Davis or Ben Francisco is another. More drastically, maybe looking for a platoon partner perhaps. I don't have all the answers. But the status quo is untenable and it's time to try something else. So please, John, the next time a similar situation occurs, I implore you to put a stop to the futility.