At school, I have a buddy named Adam Lind. When I first met him, my immediate reaction was, "Hey, there's a big league baseball player named after you! Neato!!!"
Unfortunately, I can no longer make that comment:
.@BlueJays have selected the contract of Yan Gomes and have optioned Adam Lind to Las Vegas— Blue Jays-Official(@BlueJays) May 17, 2012
When Lind was called up for good in the middle of the 2008 season, Jose Bautista was a part-time utility player that had just spent his first five MLB seasons playing for five different teams. At that point, you would've assumed that the Blue Jays would be building their batting order around the 25-year-old, entering-his-prime Lind, not the 27-year-old, does-he-even-have-a-prime Bautista.
Well, generally speaking, we all know what happened next. Lind blew up in 2009, hitting .305 with 46 doubles and 35 homers to emerge as one of the AL's best hitters. The Blue Jays prized him with a big contract extension in the hopes of locking up a potential star.
The next year, Bautista blew up, too, and the Blue Jays once again handed a major contract extension to their breakout slugger. But something else happened during that season: Adam Lind totally regressed as a hitter.
When the Blue Jays locked up Lind long-term for $18 million over four seasons, they were agreeing to a deal that would cover his Age-26 though Age-29 seasons. Basically, Toronto was signing up for what someone would reasonably expect to be the hitter's prime years.
In Lind, though, we have a pretty great example of when the aging curve simply doesn't fit. Generally speaking, hitters tend to peak around their Age-27 season, with their fielding skills peaking slightly earlier. Given this, and Lind's dominant 2009 performance as a 25-year-old, it'd be reasonable to assume that Lind would maintain, or maybe even improve, as he got older.
Here's what actually happened, though:
2008-2009, pre-extension: .297/.351/.518, .221 isolated power, 7.3% BB%, 16.8% K%
2010-2012, post-extension: .238/.289/.420, .182 isolated power, 6.5% BB%, 21.3% K%
We're talking a guy who entered his prime and proceeded to take less pitches, make less contact and hit the ball with less authority even when getting wood on the ball. Whatever expectations the Blue Jays might have had for Lind over the course of the contract, he's absolutely fell short in pretty much every way.
Now, this isn't a guarantee that Lind is done, because this is baseball and weird things tend to happen, like a 25-year-old slugger suddenly losing his mojo at the plate for nearly three years running. But for now, there's a very good reason that Lind is in Triple-A, and it's not hard to boil it down to this:
Why would Lind get sent down? Well, here's something, over the last two years and a bit, Daric Barton has provided 6 more WAR for the A's.— Dustin Parkes (@dustinparkes) May 17, 2012
Satchel Price is a newsdesk contributor for SB Nation Midwest and a feature columnist for SB Nation Chicago. His baseball writing also appears on MLB Daily Dish and Beyond the Box Score. For more of his splendid whimsy in display, follow him on Twitter.