Adam Lind and Rajai Davis: Separated at Birth

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On a surface level Adam Lind and Rajai Davis don't have a lot in common. However, if you are willing to ignore a lot of obvious differences they are essentially clones.

To say that it has been a slow offseason for the Toronto Blue Jays would be much like saying that the world is round, the sky is blue, or that the Seattle Seahawks are a pretty good football team. It is quite simply undeniable. There are scenarios where such a lack of moves would be completely and utterly justifiable, but considering the holes on this roster the silence of this offseason has been both tense and deafening. Alex Anthopoulos made a minor upgrade at the catcher position, but beyond that he has left Blue Jays fans, and anyone who writes about the Blue Jays, praying for a free agent signing or trade. The transaction waters around these parts are so stagnant that in Jay Jaffe's winter report card for the Jays he had to include Brent Morel, Tomo Ohka and Chris Getz under the category of "Key arrivals".

We are coming to the point where it is no longer novel or interesting to moan about the lack of players the Blue Jays have signed in the run up to the 2014. That does not mean that it's not worth moaning about subtractions from this roster. Unfortunately for prospective moaners not a lot has been lost, at least in the way of useful players. Losing J.P. Arencibia was cathartic, losing Josh Johnson was inevitable and not many will cry over the losses of the likes of Brad Lincoln, Mark DeRosa or Darren Oliver. However, one loss that might be of significance to some is the loss of Rajai Davis. Objectively speaking Rajai Davis is not a very valuable player, but he is an extraordinary one. Davis has incredible strengths and glaring weaknesses and the resulting package is a player who does not deserve to start but is very entertaining to watch. You may or may not disagree with that assessment, but if you are a Blue Jays fan you've heard statements like that about Rajai Davis before. What you might not have heard about Rajai Davis is that he is actually a clone of bearded woodsman/occasional first baseman Adam Lind.

On the surface that is obviously a ludicrous statement. Adam Lind is a 6'2" immobile first baseman with a good 25+ pounds on the diminutive and lightning-quick outfielder. Basic biographical details from ethnicity, to home state, to year of birth reveal two humans who are most definitely different one another. That's what makes their cover so brilliant. The fact is when you look at the stats the resemblance is uncanny. The thing that ties these two players together so strongly is their massive platoon splits. It is a well-known fact that Adam Lind and Rajai Davis are more or less hopeless against same-handed pitchers and excellent when they have a platoon advantage. It's a less well known fact that the platoon splits they show are virtually identical. The following chart shows Davis and Lind's splits against same-handed pitchers since Rajai Davis joined the Jays in 2011:

Player

BB%

K%

AVG

OBP

SLG

wOBA

wRC+

Adam Lind

4.3%

24.3%

.222

.258

.338

.263

59

Rajai Davis

4.1%

20.1%

.232

.269

.329

.263

59

Lind strikes out a little bit more and shows a bit more power here but as stat lines go it would be hard to find two that are much more similar than this. The strangeness continues when we look at the two hitters when they hold the platoon advantage:

Player

BB%

K%

AVG

OBP

SLG

wOBA

wRC+

Adam Lind

9.1%

17.5%

.280

.344

.493

.359

125

Rajai Davis

8.4%

18.5%

.297

.363

.455

.358

124

Lind is very slightly better here and the differences in the two players' styles are more apparent, but the final results in terms of wOBA and wRC+ are once again remarkably similar.

If we phase out of joke analysis and into real analysis for a moment it's pretty clear that it is criminally unfair imply that these hitters are equals. The sample size for both players against right-handed pitchers is far larger than against left handed pitchers, meaning that more than anything we can be confident in Lind's excellence against RHP's and Davis's helplessly against them. The fact that there are far more right handers than left handers in the league also makes Lind is clearly more useful at the plate going forward than his speedy counterpart. What the numbers do show us is that the Lind/Davis platoon could have been a brilliant one over the last three years. Although it was used sporadically, it probably should have been a staple like the Frank Catalanatto/Reed Johnson timeshare of yesteryear. Neither player is effective in the field making them an ideal DH tandem even if Rajai Davis doesn't fit the profile of a stereotypical DH.

Unfortunately, injuries have pressed Rajai Davis in to regular duty too often over the past three years and Adam Lind has been stubbornly left in to face southpaws far too many times. As a result, the Lind and Davis never became the dynamic duo that they might have been. Ultimately the numbers above amount to not much more than a statistical oddity. This post outlines something quirky rather than illuminating anything of real importance. However, as Rajai Davis heads for greener pastures in Detroit the missed opportunity for this pairing is most definitely real.

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