2006 Reds / 2007 Reds / Reds - General

Prospectus Player Profile: Adam Dunn

Since we never talk about this guy, here’s a link to Prospectus’ in-depth look at the development and outlook of our left fielder. (Subscription, I think).

Highlights after the jump:

  • “Dunn’s precipitous decline in production from August onward—only .176/.307/.346 in his last 188 at-bats—was a significant part of the offensive problem for a Cincinnati team that traded Austin Kearns and Felipe Lopez to the Nationals mere weeks before Dunn’s struggles.”
  • “In all honesty, his 2006 was not all that bad . . . he was getting plenty of extra-base hits as always. He walked in just shy of 15 percent of his plate appearances, and his EqA was .284. It’s sad that Dunn has had awful things written and said about him for performing so “poorly.” He was awful from August on as was previously stated, but two months’ performance shouldn’t detract from the rest of the season, considering that portion matches up with everything else he’s done in the past three years, as well as his minor league numbers.”
  • “Dunn’s real problem is his defense, which has become pretty awful, even for a left fielder. . . .  the designated hitter spot was invented for guys like Dunn, who can be worth 5 or 6 wins with the bat alone.”
  • Author Marc Normandin says that Dunn’s 2006 line was deflated by extremely bad luck on balls put in play.  For 2006, there were .077 points of difference between his actual BABIP and the expected level (which is based on the % of his balls that were line drives).  Add that .077 points, even if they were all singles, and Dunn would’ve hit .311/.442/.567, “which would have been his most productive season so far.” 
  • That doesn’t explain it all – “Dunn’s high flyball rate, combined with a bout of poor luck on line drives, led to his second half problems.”  Some of the drop-off appears to come from greater adoption of the Dunn Shift, with the 2b playing in shallow RF.  A hit chart for 2006 shows a lot of groundouts in that area, and virtually none of the groundball singles to right that Dunn used to get.
  • To address the response to that point: “Dunn has been working on trying to hit the ball to all fields to counter the shift teams are now employing to keep him in check, which caused him to hit quite a few more liners and flyballs to center field than he normally does. . . Dunn should not worry about hitting the ball to all fields if it is going to sap him of his non-homer power to the degree it did in 2006.”  (Interesting, considering the big to-do about his “changed approach” in August.)
  • Summary:  “Dunn is an offensive force… He has his negative points—he is a poor defensive player, doesn’t move quite as well as he used to thanks to the size he’s added over the years, and he can occasionally be a bit too passive at the plate—but those flaws pale in comparison to his positive contributions. This can’t be repeated enough, as there are plenty who still don’t understand his value. Sadly for Dunn, it seems some of those people call the shots where he plays.”

29 thoughts on “Prospectus Player Profile: Adam Dunn

  1. What a load of hooey.

    If you saw him play everyday, consistently hitting into the teeth of the Ted Williams Shift by trying to yank pitches; refusing to put balls into play that were hittable strikes; falling behind in the count on hittable strikes; and not getting the big hit when it was badly needed, then you realize how flawed Dunn has become.

    Obviously, opposing GMs, scouts and managers see this because he has zero market right now.

    But hey, if you want to sit at a computer and read stats and charts all day, he looks great on paper. The real thing in Technocolor can be as aggravating as people who put ketchup on a hot dog.


  2. The Adam Dunn Debate, Round (?)…

    Like I have said before, it all comes down to how you rate a player. If you are more of a stat guy you most likely support him, if you value intangibles more (as I do) you probably wish he had been traded a couple of years ago when he had a lot of value.

    Hopefully he’ll perform well in the first ha;f and we can get something of value before the trade deadline…

  3. I guess the proof will be in the 2007 pudding. If the stats guys are correct, Dunn will rebound to numbers like we saw in 2004-05. If not, and there really are problems with his approach, we\’ll see more of the dreck we saw to end 2006.

    But here\’s my big problem – I\’m not sure this is a fair debate. If Dunn stinks it up in 2007, I\’ll be perfectly willing to admit it. But I\’m not sure the opposite is true. If Dunn comes out this year and throws up .255/.385/.550, (aka 42 HR, 35 2b, and 110 BB), I think a lot of his detractors will still be talking about \”clutch hits,\” \”productive outs,\” and \”approach.\” I don\’t know what could change their minds.

  4. One other question: Mr. R has said, a few times lately, that there’s no market for Dunn. Is that an assumption, or have you actually heard that (not asking you to burn sources here)? Because I wouldn’t take the simple absence of rumors as evidence that there’s no market. A Dunn trade really isn’t workable for the Reds at this point, even if they believe he’s in a decline phase — the team’s biggest need is another outfield bat, and trading just doubles that problem. It’s not like they need another starting pitcher.

  5. It’s impossible for there to be zero market for the guy. At the very least, if they were shopping him, you’d hear ridiculous trade rumors like the Orioles offering Rodrigo Lopez for him. When a player is being shopped, there are always rumors.

  6. There is zero market. His salary plus his defense plus his strikeouts plus his lack of adjustments for how other pitchers are working him has made a lot of people wary.

    My best sources are members of coaching staffs and a handful of major-league scouts. One lives pretty close to me–enough that we bump into each other running errands during the offseason. He knows I’m a Reds fan and likes to yank my chain, but we’ve had quite a few great insider conversations about Dunn the past few years and we’re pretty much on the same page.

    As for the comment about rumors leaking, that’s true for some GMs but not the Reds under Krivsky. Man, that guy is working under the Cone of Silence. There’s a prominent member of the Reds’ minor league staff who used to be a good source–but he says even he’s out of the loop on what’s happening at the major league level. Krivsky has his little inner circle and not much comes out of them.

    But, also, there’s just not a lot of noise this close to spring training. Everyone is pretty much set for the next six weeks or so.

    On the Dunn topic of his actual play, a couple of years ago I did a chart on guys who strike out a lot. The premise was taking their strikeouts and converting a percentage and putting them into play (say he’s hitting .250, then put 25 percent of KOs into play with 25 percent of those being hits). When you consider that Dunn never puts the ball into play about one-third of his at-bats then you realize how flawed he has become.

    Additionally, I’m floored by how many times he won’t swing at the hittable strike–drive it to the alleys, line it to center, poke it to left–in lieu of getting something down and in to pull.

    Every pitcher in baseball knows this is Dunn’s operandi but he does nothing to adjust. But he does a helluva job of hitting Groundball A to the right side.

    Last year he batted 561 times, 64 of his 131 hits went for doubles or homers, but he made 430 outs, of which 194 were KOs. By my formula, Dunn could have added just 11 hits (I round to the highest even number) but that .253 average would be more tolerable by most.

    Still, removing 46 strikeouts would get Dunn down to 148, but again most people would be much happier with this number. Like his manager.

  7. Piss and moan all you want about what Adam Dunn could be. You and Marty can can have a big ole moanfest down at the end of the bar. Cry in your beer about his strikeouts, his lack of SAC flys, his inability to drive pitches you guys deem as hittable, and his bad defense.

    Still don’t change the fact that he gets on base as much as Pete Rose did, and he slugs as much George Foster did, and he’s still this teams best hitter.

    He is what he is.

  8. I think we would all be more forgiving if he didn’t look like a beached cow playing defense. It gives a reflection that he doesn’t give it his best.

  9. When you consider that Dunn never puts the ball into play about one-third of his at-bats then you realize how flawed he has become.

    Sorry, but this is just a fallacy. Power hitters will strike out. You can’t just say, “cut down the strikeouts, hit more singles, but by the way, keep hitting for just as much power.” I understand what you’re saying, but it’s just not that simple.

    There just isn’t a negative correlation between strikeouts and production. Here’s the Top 20 in strikeouts, 2006:

    Ryan Howard
    Curtis Granderson
    Bill Hall
    Jason Bay
    Richie Sexson
    Grady Sizemore
    Jhonny Peralta
    Nick Swisher
    Jim Thome
    Mike Cameron
    Alex Rodriguez
    Bobby Abreu
    Troy Glaus
    Chase Utley
    Jeff Francoeur
    Pat Burrell
    Michael Cuddyer

    Here’s the bottom 20, of batting title qualifiers:
    Orlando Cabrera
    Joe Crede
    Mark Kotsay
    Jason Kendall
    Joe Mauer
    Robinson Cano
    Yuniesky Betancourt
    Jay Payton
    Freddy Sanchez
    Omar Vizquel
    Jose Vidro
    Kenji Johjima
    Todd Walker
    Paul Lo Duca
    Juan Pierre
    Nomar Garciaparra

    There are actually some good hitters on both lists, but the first team is going to score a ton more runs than the second.

    Dunn had a crappy second half, but strikeouts aren’t the problem. But if someone is the type of fan who simply can’t see any real value in a hitter than hits below .270, there’s really nothing more to say.

  10. I think we’d all be happier if Dunn exhibited some baseball smarts. He continues to exhibit limited ability to learn/improve and to make adjustments.

    Given that Dunn has the physical ability, one can only draw three possible conclusions:

    a. apathy
    b. lack of intelligence
    c. combination of a and b

  11. Well, everyone has their opinion on Dunn but suffice it to say the baseball have theirs and the bloggers have theirs, and neither plays well with each other.

    I side with the baseball people because, well, they’re the professionals, and I’ve known some of these coaches since their minor league days. I trust they know more than us dumbass fans and media.

    But Chris, seriously, 194 strikeouts isn’t the problem? C’mon. When you’re paid $13 mil and you’re supposed to be a run producer, you can’t drive in runs by not putting the ball into play and you can’t drive in (many) runs by walking. Marty was a little exaggerated when he said Dunn should have driven in 150 (it was closer to 125) but his point was valid. You can drive in runs by just making contact.

    See the ball, hit the ball.

    Now, I shift over to digest what happened on “Lost” tonight.

  12. I think we should discuss Adam Dunn one of these days. Seems like he gets ignored around here.


  13. I honestly don’t think 194 strikeouts was the problem last year. You want to know why? Because he whiffed 195 times in 2004, and had his best season: 46 HR, 102 RBI if you care about that sort of thing, .266 .388 .569, 152 OPS+, 80 extra-base hits, etc.

    Again, some people didn’t even like that – he didn’t have any sac flies, remember. And that’s what I mean by some people simply not ever appreciating Adam Dunn, no matter what he does.

  14. C’mon. When you’re paid $13 mil and you’re supposed to be a run producer, you can’t drive in runs by not putting the ball into play and you can’t drive in (many) runs by walking. Marty was a little exaggerated when he said Dunn should have driven in 150 (it was closer to 125) but his point was valid. You can drive in runs by just making contact.

    I just can’t understand this thought process. Why should he be driving in 120? Tony Perez is widely considered one of the all time run producers and clutch hitters and he only did this twice. Most years he was around 90 to 100 RBIs and he was surrounded in the lineup my multiple hall of famers. Why is Dunn being held to the higher standard as a run producer?

    Also note that Perez only managed to score 100 runs twice in his career surrounded by all those hall of famers. Dunn’s pretty much done that 3 years running. Maybe there is more to producing runs than meets the eye.

    I’m not saying Dunn doesn’t come with warts, he most definitely does. As a LF he’s a great 1B. But really, if you want to fault him for something, find something worth while.

  15. You can’t understand the thought process? It’s simple. Put the ball into play. When you do, things can happen. When you don’t, there is one guarantee: nothing will happen.

    Dunn KOed an alarming 87 times in 245 ABs in which there was a runner on base. Yep, one third of the time. Additionally, 47 of those came in 135 ABs with RISP.

    So the point remains, within the organization and throughout baseball, gee, what would this guy really do if he made contact?

  16. I don’t know that it’s reasonable to assume a guy can have two different swings: One, a power swing designed to hit “50 HR a year”; the other a contact swing to slap a single when there’s a runner on second. I think hitting is hard enough.

  17. Agreed, but what the coaching staff has been telling Dunn is with his natural power he will hit a ton of doubles and homers to left and left-center by driving those pitches outer fastballs instead of looking at them. Plus, once he shows he’ll put the ball into play a little more then the Ted Williams Shift will recede and open up more field for him. Basically, Dunn has completely reduce his field of play with his hitting approach. It’s interesting insider stuff from the coaches and scouts.

  18. So if anyone else understands why Dunn should be held to a different level of expectations as as far as producing runs than others, feel free to explain. The point has still not been addressed.

  19. I don’t disagree with point #19. It’s not exactly the same as “putting the ball in play,” but it’s a change in approach that is realistic.

  20. I understand the angst about Adam (“Angst about Adam”, that could be a TV show), but the question I have for those who want to be done with him is this: Who do you replace him with? If you haven’t noticed, we are not exactly reeking with HR power in this lineup, and there aren’t that many FA’s out there available to scare anyone. I’ve heard Burrell’s name come up, but according to the DDN article above, you are trading one whiff king for another. True, we probably could get another old bullpen arm in addition, but why on Earth do we want another one of those? I understand the frustration and I think that Mike Schmidt (who made Greg Luzinski look plate disciplined, by the way) made a good point when he stated that Dunn needs to look more at a player like Pujohls for some inspiration. Shouldn’t we all? Yes, I hope that Adam cuts down on the K’s this season, and hopefully Jacoby can help in that regard; but saying that he should be Albert does not make it so. Like it or not, Adam Dunn is the best big bat available to us right now, and we need his pop in this lineup if we have a hope to do anything positive.

  21. And yet, from earlier points, especially No. 19, Schmidt echoes them completely in the DDN piece:

    “I look at Dunn and Burrell and I go, ‘My God, if these guys cut their strikeouts down to 75 or 80, they put the ball in play 85 or 90 more times a year. That’s at least 15 more home runs a year and at least 35 more RBIs a year.’ “

    Odd, I saw Schmidt in January and we didn’t mention this topic at all. But hey, his golf game is driving him bonkers. I told him to get a 1-iron and pray.

  22. Dunn gets skewed a lot because he isn’t an “intangibles” guy. True, he only does one or two thing well. Luckily, those one or two things are the most important parts of scoring runs — getting on base and hitting for power.

    I certainly don’t want him to start choking up with two strikes and trying to just put the ball in play. I’d like him to generate more quality contact by being aggressive with hittable pitches early in the count.

  23. You can’t understand the thought process? It’s simple. Put the ball into play. When you do, things can happen. When you don’t, there is one guarantee: nothing will happen.

    Yes — in little league. In the majors, the overwhelming majority of balls in play are turned into outs.

    Just making contact isn’t good enough. You need to make quality contact — hit the ball with authority.

    Strikeouts are the by-product of trying to get a good pitch to hit. Sometimes, Dunn waits too long for that pitch and watches hittable strikes float by. I wish he would be more aggressive with those pitches. However, I don’t think the approach should be “never let yourself get into a 2-strike hole” or “shorten your swing with two strikes just to put the ball in play.” His coaches should instead work with him on jumping on hittable pitches in the zone.

  24. Interesting take by Schmidt, who had a HOF career even with his mega-strikeouts. Sounds like Old Man’s Disease.

  25. A bit, though I did look it up, and Schmidt did cut his strikeouts by about 15% from when he broke in to his prime.

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