Thursday, September 18, 2014

Ode to Adam Dunn

Adam Dunn is one of my favorite baseball players of the last decade.  However, it's not for the reasons you'd expect.

  • He's slow
  • He's bad defensively ... even as a first baseman
  • He strikes out a ton
  • and in the rare case he pitches, he's certainly not good

So why do I love Adam Dunn?  The man they call the Big Donkey?  It's because of what he represents.  He's the epitome of "Moneyball".

  • He doesn't hit for a high batting average
  • He strikes out a ton
  • But he hits a ton of home runs
  • and he takes a lot of walks

By most traditional measures, he'd be considered a pretty awful player and may not have made it to the major leagues.  A modern Dave Kingman by some measures.  But modern day statistics show that while he isn't an incredible player, he's still a good and productive one.

Teams will suffer all his strikeouts and his poor defensive value, as long as he balances it with a lot of home runs and walks.

And walk and hit home runs he did.  He was one of the most consistent players doing it for quite a number of years.

Assuming Dunn retires after this year, he'll finish his career with a .237/.365/.491 slash line.  Nothing particularly special.  However, during his peak, check out this consistency:

2004 - 46 HRs, 102 RBIs, 108 BB, .956 OPS
2005 - 40 HRs, 101 RBIs, 114 BB, .927 OPS
2006 - 40 HRs, 92 RBIs,  112 BB, .855 OPS
2007 - 40 HRs, 106 RBIs, 101 BB, .940 OPS
2008 - 40 HRs, 100 RBIs, 122 BB, .898 OPS
2009 - 38 HRs, 105 RBIs, 116 BB, .928 OPS
2010 - 38 HRs, 103 RBIs, 77 BB, .892 OPS

I love the fact that he hit exactly 40 home runs 4 years in a row, then exactly 38 two more times.  He was regularly amongst the league leaders in walks until an uncharacteristic 2010.

Now checkout his strikeout totals in those years.

2004 - 195
2005 - 168
2006 - 194
2007 - 165
2008 - 164
2009 - 177
2010 - 199

I love how he flirted with 200 strikeouts in a year so many times but just couldn't quite make it, until he decided he was no longer scared of it and had a career high of 222 in 2012.

Of the 20 worst strike out seasons in major league history, Dunn own's five of them.

he had one of the worst seasons in recent memory in 2011

2011 - 11 HRs, 42 RBIs, 75 BB, .569 OPS

but rebounded with more typical Dunn seasons in 2012 and 2013, with some apparent age decline coming into play.

2012 - 41 HRs, 96 RBIs, 105 BB, .800 OPS
2013 - 34 HRs, 86 RBIs, 76 BB, .762 OPS

Rumors are that he'll retire after the 2014 season. (Update: This is confirmed, he did retire.)

As of this writing, he'll finish his career with an overall WAR of 16.9.  Not too shabby.

He has a WAR of 34.4 on offense

He has a WAR of -29.5 on defense.  OUCH!

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