Washington Nationals: Adam Lind Measuring For Bigger Role
The reserve Washington Nationals infielder, Adam Lind, may be the key off-season signing. Strange, but here is why he is crucial.
When the Washington Nationals signed Adam Lind this winter, they thought he was bench insurance. With Ryan Zimmerman having a rough spring, Lind is turning into a policy worth having.
Now, Lind and Clint Robinson are fighting for one of those five bench spots. Jose Lobaton, Chris Heisey and Stephen Drew have the first three while Michael Taylor and Brian Goodwin are in a match for the last.
What Lind has that Robinson has yet to show is steady power in his career. If you are looking for a veteran player that can match recent Zimmerman numbers, then Lind is your guy. It does not hurt Lind has a major-league contract and likely would leave if demoted.
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At his best, Lind brings above-average production to the lineup. Two seasons ago with the Milwaukee Brewers, his Adjusted OPS+ was 123 or 23 percent above league average. With 20 home runs and 87 RBI, his slash line of .277/.360/.460 was great.
A move to the expansive Safeco Field with the Seattle Mariners did no favors. However, Lind still slugged 20 homers and posted an 94 OPS+. Not great, but Zimmerman’s last year was 69.
Although everyone with the Nats hope Zimmerman can find his groove and hit those line drives for hits, it may not happen. With a tight race for the National League East expected, the decision to rotate or bench Zimmerman might happen out of need, not want.
Yes, he is a free swinger. But, he also can produce. Given a regular slot at the bottom of the lineup, the pressure to play well will be low. With Trea Turner at the top of the lineup—and Bryce Harper along with Daniel Murphy in the middle—Lind will not need to hit .275.
Instead, Lind has to provide production when his name is called. As he has aged, his batting eye is better. He has doubles power and hits for singles. Those are the reasons Mike Rizzo did not offer the dreaded non-roster invitee deal, but a full-fledged two-year contract with a mutual option.
There really is not a competition between Lind and Robinson. Although both players have not wowed fans so far, Spring Training is about getting work and timing in.
The same goes for Zimmerman. An early season bomb to tie or win a game takes the pressure off. As the grizzled veteran here since the team moved—the first player drafted by the Nats—there will be extra consideration when and if he is benched.
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If it happens, Lind is the guy. He has the resume to fill the role along with the skills. That is why he is here.