Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Wallscrapers Need Not Apply

Just a quick thought on Adam Dunn, and with the caveat that I'm a Dunn fanboy...

With the news that the Nats are interested in signing the massive slugger, there's been a lot of interesting reactions on various message boards and sites. One of the main criticisms is the "We don't need any more Reds!11!!", which is almost immediately followed up with "Austin Kearns is a bum!1!1!"

Hey, I've been one to complain about all the feckin' former Reds, and it is a funny not-so coincidence. But what's really funny is that when Bowden seems to be interested in one Red who's clearly an asset, people finally draw the line. Adam Dunn ain't Austin Kearns. He's the really rich man's Brad Wilkerson, a big homer-bashing slugger who gets on base like a mother, while whiffing like it's his after hours job. The three true outcomes approach can be a bear to watch when an entire team is doing it, but when it's just one guy, and that guy can connect with 440-foot homers, I'll deal!

The main criticism I've read of Dunn with respect to the Nats (besides the K thing -- truthfully, I'd love to see certain anti-K zealots deal with Dunn), is that he's a product of Great American Ballpark, the smallest ballpark this side of Williamsport. Hey, I'm not gonna deny that GABP is a bandbox. We've talked about it before, especially in relation to RFK. But two points: 1) Why are we worrying about RFK's dimensions? and 2) Dunn doesn't hit wallscrapers. He's a lot more like Soriano than he is like Kearns. (Kearns, FYI, if you look at the stats wasn't really helped by GABP that much. He homered about as much on the road as at home. He IS, however, really hampered by RFK, which is true of most batters)

Dunn has real legitimate power. But, hell, just for the sake of argument, I decided to take a closer look. To do that, I perused the lovely gallery of homers at Hit Tracker Online. I've talked about them before, but it's a website that tracks, analyzes, and measures every homer hit in the league. They've got a record of Dunn's performance both this year and last. Is he just a product of GABP?

Here's a list of all the homers Dunn has hit so far this year (26 of his 27). For the purposes of this little exercise, I limited myself to looking at just his GABP homers. I compared the distance and location of the balls he hit with the site's overlay of RFK to make a judgment about whether the ball would've left the yard in DC. Yes, it's true that atmosphere, temperature, hitting background, etc all can impact the results and wouldn't make a true transfer possible, but we're looking for the big picture!

Of the 14 homers he's hit at home (versus 12 on the road), how many do you think are 'cheapies'? It's two, maybe three.

-- This one's near the track.
-- This is probably an out.
-- I think this one might be a homer. Hard to tell, but it probably sneaks into the pen like a Schneider Special.

The other 11 are no-doubters. When he hits 'em, he hits 'em. (Here's video of a 445er that he hit the other day)

I did the same for his '06 season. Here's all 40 he hit (22 at home).

Same results. I got two nopes, and one maybe.

(Just for the hell of it, here's the 470-footer he hit in '06, splitting the smokestacks at GABP!)

Now there may be reasons to not sign him:
1) He's a big man, who might not age well
2) The K!!!1!!!!
3) The Lerners are CHEEEEP!!1!!!
4) Trading parts for a player who'd be a FA probably doesn't make much sense

But the assumption that his power is a function of his home ballpark is NOT a valid reason. He has legit power, whether it's in Cinci or along the Anacostia. I'm not smart enough to figure out whether the 4 HR he'd have lost had he been playing at RFK instead of GABP would be homers in the new place, but even if they are, I'll take the other 32 he'd have hit at RFK. That's 8 more than any other Nat hit coughsorianocough over that stretch, and 14 more than anyone currently on the roster.

7 Comments:

  • I say get him. How many more games do I have to watch where runs aren't moved on? This guy doesn't just move them on, he sends the car park attendants out onto the road to find the ball.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 7/24/2007 11:58 PM  

  • There's no arguing that Dunn has power. The problem is that he's reached what potential he has, and he's still not a great player.
    If you compare the career numbers on him to some other sluggers, he's basically Pat Burrell with a few more steals. And where do we play him? Left, with Church in center i guess?
    Great point about RFK's dimensions though......who gives a shit?
    I would bet money this time next year we'll be more worried about our pitching staff than our offense.

    By Blogger Rob B, at 7/25/2007 7:58 AM  

  • Dunn has a lot more power than Burrell. Where would he go? Left field, possibly first base if the team gets weary of the never-healing Nick Johnson. In my mind, it wouldn't be a question of where Church goes. The idea would be to build toward a team that is good enough that Church isn't a starting outfielder on that team. Take the guys we are playing in all three outfield spots, as well as second base and shortstop. For this team to be a good offensive team, we can probably afford the status quo in one of those spots, with upgrades at all the others.

    By Blogger John O'Connor, at 7/25/2007 9:10 AM  

  • Throw Dunn in left. Either scrape up a CF or let Langerhans or Church battle it out. (Langerhans, like Kearns, is much better than he's shown).

    Dunn could also be NJ insurance, and could fill in at 1B. I'd want to get him some work there, because he's been pretty terrible at it when he's played, mostly bc of unfamiliarity.

    Dunn got lazy for a few years, but showed up motivated, worked hard, lost weight, and has played much better defense this year. He won't win a gold glove, and he makes a bunch of errors, but he's not a complete butcher -- better than Burrell, at least. Besides, the fences are smaller next year, so it won't be as large of a problem.

    By Blogger Chris Needham, at 7/25/2007 9:29 AM  

  • Plus, Dunn walks a ton, over 100X a season, making the BA and K's much more tolerable. If a long-term deal can be worked out, he would help solve the power outage.

    By Anonymous Ed, at 7/25/2007 9:38 AM  

  • The Lerners would not spend that kind of money now...they just sign Ronny to a BIG CONTRACT!!!!1!! Kasten told me himself "Who needs Dunn or Jones when we gots the Belliard"

    By Anonymous Natsfan7, at 7/25/2007 11:18 AM  

  • Somebody help me out here. '07 is shot, so why would you give up anything for Dunn now as opposed to signing him as a free agent after the season? Or is all this just the musings of a hyperactive GM?

    By Anonymous Hoping for offense, at 7/25/2007 1:16 PM  

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