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?
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.
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
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 BaseballReference.com, 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.)
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
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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 BaseballProspectus.com Glossary)