Over the past couple of seasons, the Milwaukee Brewers have had a black hole at the first base position. In 2013, Milwaukee saw players like Yuniesky Betancourt, Alex Gonzalez, and Juan Francisco combine for a Major League worst -4.8 WAR, and last season’s platoon of Lyle Overbay and Mark Reynolds put up a 1.1 WAR based mostly upon solid defense. Doug Melvin’s first move this offseason was to finally make an upgrade for an established player at the position, shipping homer-prone starting pitcher Marco Estrada to Toronto for first baseman Adam Lind.
Lind, when healthy, has been a fixture in Toronto’s lineup since breaking into the bigs in 2008. Staying healthy has always been the key for Lind, however. He has battled issues with his legs and back in the past, and was limited to 96 games last season. He came up as an outfielder, but has split his time between first base and designated hitter for the past four years. He is not a very strong defender, and has never posted a positive dWAR value in his career.
Lind is a left handed hitter, and he has historically struggled against same handed pitchers. He has a career .212/.257/.331 line against lefties in 892 plate appearances against lefties, striking out over 25% of the time. He was even worse last season, hitting .061/.162/.061 in 37 plate appearances. The Brewers do not seem to be planning on using Lind much against lefties, however, and instead will likely feature a combination of Jonathan Lucroy and Luis Jimenez at first against southpaws, both right handed hitters.
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As platoon players come, you can’t get much better than Lind. He posted a wRC+ of 164 against right handed pitchers last year, hitting .354/.409/.533 in 281 plate appearances last season with all six of his home runs coming of righties. Though he didn’t have the same home run stroke last season as the guy who has topped 20 home runs four times in his career, he showed a solid line drive stroke, smacking 24 doubles in only 96 games. His home run to fly ball ratio was about half of his career average, though he only saw a slight drop in his fly ball totals. Playing his home games at Miller Park shouldn’t hurt as Lind attempts to boost home home run totals back up to normal. He has long been a solid on-base threat, walking between 8-10% of his plate appearances each of the last three seasons. Lind has had a penchant for whiffs at a career 19% strikeout rate, but his 15.5% mark last season was a career best.
In 2015, I’m predicting:
117 G 459 PA 420 AB 57 R 118 H 31 2B 1 3B 17 HR 64 RBI 0 SB 0 CS .281 BA .344 OBP .481 SLG 37 BB 82 K
Lind has been generally rated as a below average baserunner over his career, and we’ll qualify his defense as “weak.” Using our simple WAR calculator and last season’s MLB average of a .750 OPS, Lind grades out at 1.1 WAR over a projected 459 plate appearances. This may not seem like a ton, but that number already matches what the Brewers got out of the first base position over 162 games last season. Combine Lind’s projected production in a platoon with Lucroy, and you have yourself one fine looking first base position.
Adam Lind may not be the league’s most valuable player, but he should prove to be an invaluable addition to the Brewers lineup. His left-handed bat will provide strong offense against righties, and he should see a nice jump in his home run totals from last season. Hopefully playing on real grass rather than artificial turf can help Lind stay healthy and his defensive numbers improve, but all in all the Brewers will finally have a solid player manning first base for the Championship Season in 2015.
Check out all of our 2015 Brewers player projections:
C Jonathan Lucroy