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From The Adam Show for AHP:

Rumor has it that the Cincinnati Reds are looking to deal their lefty slugger Adam Dunn. Dunn's the prototypical Three True Outcomes player, the kind of guy who hits a homer, walks or strikes out nearly 50% of the time. That tends to lead to a player not aging well, and that appears to be the case for Dunn. But let's ignore that for a second.

Why do the Reds want to deal Dunn?

1) They're out of contention. At 26-42, (but with a Pythagorean 30-37) the Reds have been unlucky, but still not particularly good. With top pitchers Aaron Harang, Bronson Arroyo and newly called up Homer Bailey locked up for 4, 4, and 6 years respectively, the Reds have a decent starting pitching core for the next few years. However, their best hitter this year, Ken Griffey Jr, is 37 years old and is, at this point, a near lock to top out at 400 ABs every year. Brandon Phillips, Joey Votto, Josh Hamilton and potentially Edwin Encarnacion form another decent core up the middle.

Still, even with average production from the rest of the spots in the lineup and rotation (a stretch), and above-average production from the "core" (Arroyo won't be a good starter in 3 years, Bailey could be a hit or miss guy, and some in the Reds organization consider Encarnacion a failure at this point), that's not necessarily a winner, even in the NL Central. The Brewers appear to have a decent team in line for the next few years, and the Cubs might be okay for a little while, depending on how Carlos Zambrano decides to get his money, either from the Cubs or from some other team.

2) The Fans and the Media in Cincy couldn't hate him anymore. Dunn's not a particularly alluring player. He's a serious defensive liability (5 runs below replacement in left field so far in 2007), strikes out a ton (he set the season record for K's in 04, and nearly bested it in 06), and his general "ogre-like" appearance and movements leave a bad taste in the mouths of many people. That's not to say he hasn't been a good player.

3) He's entering decline. Dunn was supposed to be a big ole' slugging machine, and for a while, it looked like he was entering a Jason Giambi-esque career path. His 2004 batting line was tremendous (.266/.388/.569, .316 EqA, 53.4 VORP, 6.5 WARP1) especially considering it was his age 24 year. Most immediately suspected he would continue to grow as a hitter, although, even in 2004, he was a terrible fielder (5 runs below replacement level in left). Austin Kearns was long considered the Reds premier hitting prospect, but after the 2004 season, Dunn became the best hitter on the team (even more evidenced by GM Wayne Krivsky's God-Awful 2006 trade with the Nationals, in which he sent Kearns and short-stop Felipe Lopez for a bag of balls, 2 bad arms and a an old short-stop who never could hit. One of the prospects is doing decently well at single A Dayton, however. Still, the trade was a tremendous bomb for the Reds.)

All seemed to be well for Dunn. According to, after his age 24 season, his most similar hitter up to that point was Hall of Famer Reggie Jackson. Although the strike-outs were bad, he was walking at a .16 clip, and the .388 On-Base Percentage was very good.

Then 2005 rolled around. Although not a terrible year, it was the start of the decline, although it went un-noticed by the stat-heads. His line (.247/.387/.540, .308 EqA, 45.0 VORP, 6.5 WARP1) was good, but it did qualify as a regression (although his defense improved to the tune of 2 runs above replacement at first and in left, explaining the same number of wins provided)

The future wasn't bleak by any stretch for Dunn after 2005 though. His BR comp after 2005 was Darryl Strawberry. That's admittedly not Reggie Jackson, but it's also not the end of the world. However, 2006 was a disaster.

Even though the Reds hung around until the bitter end of 2006, they did with a much regressed Adam Dunn. Dunn's batting line collapsed (.234/.365/.490, .282 EqA, 23.5 VORP, 3.6 WARP1) and he fell from being a dominant slugger to a mediocre one, especially for a left-fielder (he finished 14th in VORP in 2006 for all left-fielders with at least 300 PAs.) His defense also regressed back to his normal means (5 runs beneath replacement in left.)

One key thing to note about his on-base percentages in 05 and 06 (.387 and .365) are hugely dependant on his batting averages (.247 in 05 and .234 in 06). His walk rates in those two years? The exact same .16. His BABIPs? .281 and .279.

So, what does that mean? For all accounts and purposes, it looks like Dunn's 2004 was an outlier (he had a somewhat fluky .321 BABIP) and that his normal career path was never Jason Giambi or Reggie Jackson.

Dunn's becoming nothing more than a Matt Stairs esque player. He was born to play DH, but if his slugging percentage dips beneath .500 again, I'm not sure how valuable that is.

So, what should the Reds do? It appears that the team missed the boat in the off-season of 2004. Rumors were abundant that the Reds were shopping Dunn, but they bit in to the belief that Dunn was improving, and kept him. Now it appears that Dunn's went from an elite hitter to a roughly mediocre one. Add in his way below average speed and defensive ability, and Dunn's got limited trade value.

Some people believe that the Reds have hurt Dunn's progression. They have tried rigorously to cut down his strike outs, and in the process they may have permanently damaged his approach at the plate. That's a wound not easily healed, and the Reds probably aren't the place for him to re-learn things.

If a team such as the Yankees called and offered up a pair of pitchers like Tyler Clippard and Ian Kennedy (2 young arms that have limited ceilings,) it would behoove the Reds to pull the trigger. The days of Dunn being worth the moon are over. He won't be worth the money he'll make in 2008.

(Special Thanks to Justin, who helped me research the topic!!!)

Glossary of Terms

VORP: Value Over Replacement Player. The number of runs contributed beyond what a replacement-level player at the same position would contribute if given the same percentage of team plate appearances. VORP scores do not consider the quality of a player's defense.

EqA: Equivalent Average. A measure of total offensive value per out, with corrections for league offensive level, home park, and team pitching. EQA considers batting as well as baserunning, but not the value of a position player's defense. The EqA adjusted for all-time also has a correction for league difficulty. The scale is deliberately set to approximate that of batting average. League average EqA is always equal to .260. EqA is derived from Raw EqA, which is (H + TB + 1.5*(BB + HBP + SB) + SH + SF) divided by (AB + BB + HBP + SH + SF + CS + SB). REqA is then normalized to account for league difficulty and scale to create EqA.

WARP1: Wins Above Replacement Player, level 1. The number of wins this player contributed, above what a replacement level hitter, fielder, and pitcher would have done, with adjustments only for within the season. It should be noted that a team which is at replacement level in all three of batting, pitching, and fielding will be an extraordinarily bad team, on the order of 20-25 wins in a 162-game season.

(Definitions from the Glossary)