Baseball Crank
Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
February 12, 2009
BASEBALL: At Least Dunn Will Do Something

.243 batting, .330 OBP, .376 slugging, 16 HR, 65 RBI, 68 Runs scored, 10 stolen bases, 71 walks, 130 strikeouts.

That's the average production the Nationals got from all their three outfield slots last season, when you add up everyone who played there. Nationals first basemen batted .269/.360/.402 with 14 HR, 69 RBI, 73 Runs, 13 steals, 79 walks, 115 K.

Yeah, I think they will like Adam Dunn in Washington.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 9:23 AM | Baseball 2009 | Comments (6) | TrackBack (0)

Keep in mind that the horrid production you quote from 2008 is a big result of constant visits from the Injury Fairy. The OF/1B wasted way too many PA on scrubs like Roger Bernadina and Kory Casto, while the medical staff took way too long to figure out that people like Wily Mo Pena and Austin Kearns weren't hitting because they were injured and trying to play through the pain. Sure, Dunn is an improvement over that--but merely having a healthy lineup would be just as much of an improvement (with the trimming of dead wood like Paul LoDuca, Felipe Lopez, and WM Pena). The heck of it is that replacing Nick Johnson with Adam Dunn at first actually COSTS us half a win above replacement over the course of the season (I know, I can't make that comparison 'cuz NJ will get run over by Jim Bowden's Segway during Spring Training, or some equally-unlikely catastrophe, and never play an inning).

I suppose the trade makes sense in terms of ticket sales, "credibility," addressing the owners' reputation for being cheap, and maybe even facilitating future trades. But on the field? No net improvement. When you add Dunn's sucktastic fielding to his potent bat, you find that overall he's the rough equivalent of "The Amazing" Willie Harris in an OF spot. But even I'll admit that I'm looking forward to seeing more dingers.

Posted by: Doghouse at February 12, 2009 11:12 AM

If they just made it illegal to throw anything but fastballs (or if he could hit it off a tee) Wily Mo would be a terror. That man can hit it far. He just can't hit it often.

Posted by: jim at February 12, 2009 5:54 PM

Jim, you just made me recall the phrase "you tryin' to tell me Jesus Christ can't hit a curveball?" :)

Posted by: RW at February 12, 2009 11:06 PM

I kind of loved Wily Mo when he played for the Sox (my girlfriend especially did as it allowed her to rattle off stuff like, "Oh yeah, bring the Pena!" and "We need some 'mo Pena!"). He actually hit pretty well and since he was an NL guy (not a lot of book on him at that point) and played in a pretty prodigious line-up he probably did see more fastballs. His fielding was often times comical (a theoretical cross between Manny, No Hittin' Mark Whiten and Bo Jackson). But Manny and Papi loved him and he is, at the very least, an impressive physical speciman and by all accounts a good guy who perhaps got rushed to the Bigs to soon.

You know his career BABIP is .325? David Wright's is .335. He just strikes out way too often.

That would be a good list for this site: Guys who you are fond of and want to like a lot but who just really can't play. I would add Way Back Wes Gardner (thanks Mets) and Not So Sweet Lou Merloni to my list.

Posted by: jim at February 13, 2009 1:43 PM

I think Doghouse is way underrating Dunn as a player. The guy churns out .370//520 seasons like clockwork and never gets hurt. Meanwhile, Nick Johnson displays the same preternatural consistency getting hurt. Willie Frickin Harris as Dunn's equal? Dude back away from the one season's worth of defensive metric small sample crack pipe. Whether Dunn is put at 1b (his defensive problems largely go away) or in LF (his defensive shortcomings are outweighed by replacing Willingham's bat with Nick's) he is an asset. His short contract will also be attractive at the trade deadline if the Nationals are out of it.

Dunn is the classic underrated secondary player. He's a true outcome deity, a Bill James monster.

Posted by: seth soothsayer at February 13, 2009 2:10 PM

And one other aspect of Dunn that is overlooked is his ability to work pitch counts. All those walks and all those strikeouts tend to tire pitchers out, to the benefit of his team. In a patient lineup, this equates to the opposition overutilizing their worst pitchers - long relievers - and otherwise tiring out the other pieces of their bullpen. The '98 Yankees were great at this, as are recent Red Sox vintages. In short, Dunn was a great pickup for the Nationals. They just need four more like him.

Posted by: Gapeseed at February 13, 2009 4:02 PM
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