Thursday, July 12, 2012

Another silly season for Adam Dunn

A year after putting up one of the worst statistical seasons in the history of baseball, Adam Dunn was an All Star in 2012. Of course, Encarnacion of the Blue Jays should have been instead of Dunn, but anyway, Adam Dunn was an All Star. After the season Dunn had in 2011, perhaps no one would have expected such a thing to happen. But that does not mean that Dunn's season is pretty. In fact, his season is downright messy. For people who love looking at statistics, Adam Dunn's silly numbers will provide joy for years to come.

When is the last time an All Star was batting .208? But his 68 walks, 25 homers and 61 runs batted in look a whole lot better if you can close your eyes to the batting average. Dunn's wOBA of .367 is 99 points above where he ended up last season and is right in line with his career norm. His wRC+ of 129 is slightly above his career average and a full 70 points higher than last year.

It is pretty safe to say that Adam Dunn is going to be a candidate for Comeback Player of the Year. But again, his numbers are so weird! Dunn has played 84 games and has only 61 hits! 36 of those hits have been for extra bases. Dunn has as many homers at 25 as he has singles (also 25). Here is a good one for you: Of Dunn's 364 plate appearances, he has put the ball in play only 162 times. 202 of the others were either strikeouts or walks.

And the fun goes on an on. Dunn has an amazing line drive percentage of 24.2 percent. That is Votto-like. And yet he only has a BABIP of .265. That is pretty hard to do. Dunn's home run to fly ball rate is an incredible 34.2 percent. One out of every three fly balls he hits goes over the fence. 

And of course, there are the strikeouts. Adam Dunn is on pace to blow the strikeout record away. Few thought that anyone could give the record a serious run, but Dunn is on his way. He has struck out 134 times by the All Star Break. He is projected to strike out 231 times for the season. His strikeout rate is 36.8 percent. So for every 25 times Adam Dunn comes to the plate, he will strike out nine of them.

The question this observer has is why and how anyone would walk Adam Dunn? First of all, at six foot, six inches tall, he has one of the biggest strike zones in baseball. How could you miss it? Second of all, why would you? If you throw strikes to Adam Dunn, you have an eight in ten (or four in five) chance of getting him out. You have a 36.8 percent chance of striking him out. There is only a seven percent chance he will hit your offering for a homer. So why not take your chances?

All of Adam Dunn's value comes from his ability to hit homers and his ability to walk. Why pitchers walk him so much is a mystery. The homers will be hit. But the walks can be prevented. But as long as pitchers continue to walk him, Dunn will continue to defy convention as a guy who cannot seem to hit and yet slugs and on-base percentages you to death. He could hit over forty homers and strike out 240 times and still have an OPS of .850 or higher. 

Adam Dunn is about as unique a baseball player as we have seen in this generation. Of course, he can't field and he can't run. The fun is that in a full 62 percent of his plate appearances, he will either strikeout, walk, or hit a homer. Amazing. 

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