Lind named Outstanding DH of 2009
Slugger edges Matsui to become third Jay to win award
TORONTO -- A few years ago, Adam Lind had one of the greatest designated hitters in baseball history as a teammate with the Blue Jays. Still learning his way around the big leagues, Lind was willing to listen to any advice that Frank Thomas had to offer.
At the time, though, Lind didn't realize that the DH role would be handed to him after Thomas' time with Toronto came to an end. On Tuesday, Lind was named the recipient of the Edgar Martinez Outstanding Designated Hitter Award, recognizing the young hitter as the best DH in 2009.
"I picked up tips about hitting from Frank, but not about how to be a DH," Lind said on Tuesday. "When he was here, there was no speculation or reason to think I'd have to be a DH for a whole summer. He taught me some things as far as tempo and staying slow and relaxing in the batter's box."
Lind grew up in Indiana, only a few hours away from Chicago, watching Thomas rewrite the White Sox record books. In Thomas' time with the Blue Jays from 2007-08, Lind bounced between Toronto and the Minor Leagues, showing flashes of his potential with the bat. Last season, Lind finally enjoyed the type of breakout campaign the Jays believed he had in him.
Unlike Thomas, though, Lind admittedly did not have much of a routine when it came to being a DH. Thomas used to duck into the clubhouse between at-bats to ride a stationary bike. In April, as it became obvious that serving primarily as a DH was not an issue, Lind was asked what kind of strategy he was using during games to help him succeed in the role.
"I just sat there all game and drank water," he said with a laugh.
Over the course of 151 games -- split between left field and DH -- the left-handed-hitting Lind finished with a .305 average, .370 on-base percentage and a .562 slugging percentage. He compiled 46 doubles and 35 home runs, collecting 114 RBIs along the way. Lind's 81 extra-base hits were the second-highest total in the American League.
Lind was slotted into the lineup as a DH in 95 games in 2009, hitting .299 with 21 homers and 74 RBIs in those contests. He also posted a .362 OBP and a .539 SLG with 26 doubles, 60 runs scored and 200 total bases as a DH.
Lind, 26, set a Blue Jays Opening Day record with six RBIs and later enjoyed an eight-RBI performance in a wild, 18-10, win over the Rangers on Aug. 31. In June, Lind tied a club record by connecting for hits in eight consecutive at-bats. He had four multihomer games, including a three-bomb showing in his final game of the year on Sept. 29.
At no point did serving as a DH cause a problem.
"I didn't really let it get in my head," Lind said. "In the Minor Leagues, my days off were being a DH, so I had some experience -- just not on a daily basis. I've been through it before and I didn't really let it affect me last season. I just went out and played the game the same way every day."
For his efforts, Lind also earned an AL Silver Slugger Award for his production as a DH. He is the third player in Blue Jays history to earn the Edgar Martinez Award, joining Hall of Famers Dave Winfield (1992) and Paul Molitor ('93). In balloting for the 2009 honor, Lind won by a slim margin over Hideki Matsui of the Yankees.
The Edgar Martinez Award has has been presented annually since 1973 and is decided based on votes from club beat writers, broadcasters and AL public relations departments. Nominees included all players with a minimum of 100 at-bats as a designated hitter.
"It means a lot to be related with the name of Edgar Martinez," Lind said.
Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.