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Monday, February 18, 2013

Tasker: Adam Dunn is a Statistical Marvel

But Not a Statistical Brand Echh?

ezz

Adam Dunn is a statistical marvel. The only other player that has as many statistical anomalies is Juan Pierre. And the weird thing is that they are polar opposites as hitters. Dunn has a low contact percentage and a high homer and walk percentage. Pierre has a high contact percentage and the lowest homer and a low walk percentage. But I’ve already studied Juan Pierre, so this post deals with Adam Dunn. And yes, he bounced back a bit from his historically bad 2011, but that doesn’t mean that his 2012 wasn’t statistically amazing as well. Dunn is fascinating in so many ways that he is a category all by himself. There is no one else like him in baseball.

First, let’s start out looking at his entire career, which started in 2001. What I have done is limit all players since 2001 to those who have had at least 6,000 plate appearances. There are 38 players who fit that category. Dunn’s place among these players is totally unique. Then I will look at his last three years, two of which have been somewhat acceptable and one that was historically bad.

...In other words, the odds are strongly in the favor of the pitcher if he made sure the outcome was that Adam Dunn did not walk those 50 times. Every time a pitcher walks Adam Dunn, I scratch my head. It does not make sense.

All of this conversation does not even take into account Adam Dunn’s base running and fielding. Fangraphs.com tallies 128.3 runs Dunn has cost his teams on defense. Baseball-reference.com is even harsher and puts that measure at -152 runs. Fangraphs.com indicates that he has cost his team 13.8 runs on the base paths. And as my buddy, @dkulich44, points out, this has been a late phenomenon in Dunn’s career. He was a decent base runner until 2008. Since that time, his base running has cost his teams 16.4 runs!

Adam Dunn is truly a statistical marvel. His career has been truly strange. His three-outcome plate appearances are truly unique and make it very confusing to put him in context in this generation of players.

Repoz Posted: February 18, 2013 at 04:00 PM | 28 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: history, sabermetrics, white sox

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   1. Walt Davis Posted: February 18, 2013 at 04:33 PM (#4371470)
The author skipped over an "historic" one. Dunn is one of 11 players in history with 3000+ PA and an ISO>BA.

Ruth, Bonds, Thome, Howard, McGwire, Dunn, Kingman, Reynolds, Pena, Branyan, Deer

Nope, no sillyball effect there. McGwire has the biggest gap with a stunning 62 points, Branyan is 2nd at 21 and Dunn is 3rd at 19.

He does not make the list that he probably really wants to be on (whether he knows it or not) which is the BA>BABIP list. To do this, you have to hit a higher proportion of HR/(HR+K) than BABIP. Tons of great hitters on this list ... and some of the really low K freaks like Buckner. Yogi seems to lead the way with a 23 point gap, followed by DiMaggio at 21, Bonds and Pujols are at 16, Musial and Mize not far behind. It would have taken me 7.2 million years to guess Carlos Lee who'd be a lot easier to guess than Dan Meyer.

   2. phatj Posted: February 18, 2013 at 04:39 PM (#4371474)
Branyan accumulated a lot more PA than I would have guessed.
   3. madvillain Posted: February 18, 2013 at 04:59 PM (#4371485)
Actually, Dunn is a flaming turd. He's one of the most frustrating players I've ever watched as a Sox fan. He continually goes deep into counts as if he's Frank Thomas or Edgar Martinez. But he has nowhere near their hit skill so in reality he just strikes out, even while appearing ever the patient eye.

I hope he can turn it around and maybe you know, bat over 230 this year, but I doubt it. Even with his 3 true outcome skills his slash line is garbage for a full time DH getting paid 11 million a year.
   4. phredbird Posted: February 18, 2013 at 04:59 PM (#4371486)
not brand ecch wasn't really all that funny but i liked that little exchange.
   5. Ron J2 Posted: February 18, 2013 at 05:31 PM (#4371502)
#3 What I find remarkable about Dunn is that he reaches two strikes in 56% of his PAs.

One interesting (and important) difference between Dunn and McGwire is that McGwire put the ball in play (or out of play, by hitting a home run) 40% more frequently than Dunn. And I honestly doubt they're pitching Dunn more carefully than they pitched McGwire.

Now of course some of this is just talent. McGwire could probably drive a wider range of pitches than Dunn could. But still, I think it's reasonably clear that Dunn could have stood to be a little less patient early in the count.
   6. dr. scott Posted: February 18, 2013 at 05:38 PM (#4371508)
Imagine and entire team of Adam dunns and Matsuzakas. they could rival cricket matches in game time.
   7. madvillain Posted: February 18, 2013 at 05:47 PM (#4371516)

Now of course some of this is just talent. McGwire could probably drive a wider range of pitches than Dunn could. But still, I think it's reasonably clear that Dunn could have stood to be a little less patient early in the count.


Well along this line of thinking Dunn has vowed to "be more aggressive" earlier in the count. We'll see how long this plan lasts if it's late May and he's hitting 180. I doubt he will have the patience -- ahem-- to stick with it.

   8. Drew (Primakov, Gungho Iguanas) Posted: February 18, 2013 at 06:06 PM (#4371520)
Imagine and entire team of Adam dunns and Matsuzakas. they could rival cricket matches in game time.


There's a team to be built there. Dunn, Matsuzaka, but also guys who make the game slower for other reasons, e.g. Beckett, Hargrove. Joe Maddon would manage.
   9. Fernigal McGunnigle has become a merry hat Posted: February 18, 2013 at 06:23 PM (#4371526)
I hope he can turn it around and maybe you know, bat over 230 this year, but I doubt it. Even with his 3 true outcome skills his slash line is garbage for a full time DH getting paid 11 million a year.


madvillain, would it make you happy to learn that Dunn is actually getting paid $15 million?

   10. Fernigal McGunnigle has become a merry hat Posted: February 18, 2013 at 06:33 PM (#4371529)
Comparing Dunn to the just-traded Tony Campana is funny. According to BBRef, the guy who hit 41 home runs and drew 105 walks was worth 1 full win less than the guy who hit 264/308/299. You'd be hard pressed to find more dissimilar players.
   11. Crispix reaches boiling point with lackluster play Posted: February 18, 2013 at 06:43 PM (#4371531)
What if there was a player who hits like Campana and does everything else like Adam Dunn. Oh, there was, Adam Dunn in 2011. -3.1 WAR.

In the WAR calculation, there's one thing I don't understand. In translating from RAA (runs above average) to RAR (runs above replacement), there's a listing for "Rrep", or number of runs an average player is better than a replacement player.

Why is "Rrep" so much higher for Dunn (22) than for Campana (5)? Is this a matter of playing time? Because Dunn didn't have over four times as much playing time.
   12. A big pile of nonsense (gef the talking mongoose) Posted: February 18, 2013 at 06:51 PM (#4371536)
When I sold my comics collection back in the summer of '81 to help finance my move from Arkansas to Arizona for grad school, the only issues I kept were my two top childhood favorites -- a couple of dozen Sgt. Furys & about half of Not Brand Echh. (In retrospect, I should've hung on to Hulk #181, X-Men #94, Amazing Spider-Man #14, FF #s 48-50 & several dozens others as well rather than letting them go for what averaged out to 14 cents per, but so it goes.)

Those panels are from the only story I've ever read that made the Silver Surfer (in this case, of course, the Silver Burper) bearable. Well done, Jack & Stan.

And come to think of it, I saw the same panels yesterday on Facebook, courtesy of one of the few comics writers around today worth a damn, Kurt Busiek. Hmmmm ...
   13. madvillain Posted: February 18, 2013 at 07:00 PM (#4371542)
madvillain, would it make you happy to learn that Dunn is actually getting paid $15 million?


Ugh, just looked up the contract on BRef, deferred money hooray! Dunn's fall is just inexplicable really. He was about as sure as bet as it gets for an OPS+ around 130 and then he goes and has his two worst season in the bigs when he gets to Chicago, one of them a historically bad season that almost single-highhandedly prevented the club from making the playoffs.

Baseball is a strange game.
   14. Danny Posted: February 18, 2013 at 07:04 PM (#4371545)
What I find remarkable about Dunn is that he reaches two strikes in 56% of his PAs.

That's not all that odd given that 50% of all AL PA reached two strikes last year.

His propensity to draw full counts is more interesting.
   15. phredbird Posted: February 18, 2013 at 08:02 PM (#4371570)
When I sold my comics collection back in the summer of '81 to help finance my move from Arkansas to Arizona for grad school, the only issues I kept were my two top childhood favorites -- a couple of dozen Sgt. Furys & about half of Not Brand Echh. (In retrospect, I should've hung on to Hulk #181, X-Men #94, Amazing Spider-Man #14, FF #s 48-50 & several dozens others as well rather than letting them go for what averaged out to 14 cents per, but so it goes.)


when i was a kid, i lived overseas but every summer we'd come home for a month on leave and i'd buy everything i could carry back in a pan am flight bag. this was back in the 60s. by the time we came back to the states for good i had a steamer trunk full of comics. a butt load of fantastic 4, spiderman, avengers, nick fury etc. ... i held on to it for years, by the time i was in grad school i hadn't opened it for a while. by then i was out of my mom's basement, and i needed money. i saved an armful, but i sold most of the contents to some shyster comic book shop guy for a hundred dollars. i could just kick myself.
   16. puck Posted: February 18, 2013 at 08:23 PM (#4371575)
Imagine and entire team of Adam dunns and Matsuzakas. they could rival cricket matches in game time.

Don Stanhouse vs. Mike Hargrove was another one like this.
   17. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: February 18, 2013 at 08:30 PM (#4371577)
i really don't like what has happened to adam's game. it's no fun to watch
   18. Dale Sams Posted: February 18, 2013 at 08:44 PM (#4371581)
From 2008-2012, Adam Dunn has accumulated app. 0.0 WAR, 200 HRs, and 60 million dollars.
   19. Crispix reaches boiling point with lackluster play Posted: February 18, 2013 at 08:54 PM (#4371584)
Hey, he's been worth 0.0 WAR according to BB-ref, but according to Fangraphs he's worth 4.2. Of course, by comparison Chase Headley has been worth 17.1.
   20. Austin Posted: February 18, 2013 at 09:04 PM (#4371588)
Why is "Rrep" so much higher for Dunn (22) than for Campana (5)? Is this a matter of playing time? Because Dunn didn't have over four times as much playing time.

B-R incorporates its league adjustment into Rrep. Since the NL is weaker, players in the league get a smaller boost. (Personally, I would prefer that Sean separate the league adjustment from the playing time adjustment, but that's how it is for now.)
   21. bobm Posted: February 18, 2013 at 09:15 PM (#4371592)
His propensity to draw full counts is more interesting.

In 2012 - 12.6% of PA in AL vs 24.2% of Dunn's PA. Wow.
   22. The District Attorney Posted: February 18, 2013 at 10:00 PM (#4371603)
I like how Sue Storm becomes Flavor Flav in the second panel.
   23. Bourbon Samurai in Asia Posted: February 18, 2013 at 10:17 PM (#4371609)
As I have said before, Adam Dunn has a plausible case for the best "bad team" player of all time, by which I mean the best player to have on your terrible team as you drive for the #1 overall pick. On a team with playoff aspirations, his endless base running mistakes and fielding gaffes are horrifying. If you are going to lose 100 games? Who cares, just hit some giant home runs to liven up the losses! He adds fun, but doesn't win enough games to keep you from drafting Bryce Harper.
   24. PreservedFish Posted: February 18, 2013 at 10:47 PM (#4371617)
As I have said before, Adam Dunn has a plausible case for the best "bad team" player of all time, by which I mean the best player to have on your terrible team as you drive for the #1 overall pick.


I'm in a sim keeper league where I am trying to do exactly that, and have been trying to collect other such players. Ichiro is another good one.
   25. Robert in Manhattan Beach Posted: February 18, 2013 at 11:40 PM (#4371638)
I'm in a sim keeper league where I am trying to do exactly that, and have been trying to collect other such players.

It's spelled F-R-A-N-C-O-E-U-R
   26. Walt Davis Posted: February 19, 2013 at 12:07 AM (#4371645)
But still, I think it's reasonably clear that Dunn could have stood to be a little less patient early in the count.

Maybe. It's hard to know to what extent he's too patient and to what extent he just has a very limited zone in which he can mash. I certainly don't think it will do Dunn any good to swing at pitches outside the zone. Still, Dunn's BABIP has cratered the last two seasons -- he's had some awful ones before but he's now terrible which suggest he used to have more skill in this area. I suspect the bat has just slowed and he's got nothing to do but hammer whenever he swings. The collapse is not that unexpected -- he was old man skills as a hitter from the beginning and he let the reasonable speed and agility he started with go. Dunn at 28-29 looked like a guy who'd be done by 33. The main question to me was whether the game has really changed enough that a 220/320/450 line at DH would be OK (i.e. everybody is swinging as hard as they can and K'ing all the time).
   27. A big pile of nonsense (gef the talking mongoose) Posted: February 19, 2013 at 09:24 AM (#4371721)
Makes me want to open up a Satan museum and require $666 million in funding.


My collection of somewhere over 2,000 comics went for $350, IIRC, to a guy in Jacksonville, Ark. A few years later, when I was a reporter (& later an editor) at the newspaper in Little Rock, the same guy popped up on our letters page every month or so, waxing conservative. I guess I helped fund his lifetime subscription to the National Review or something.
   28. Darren Posted: February 19, 2013 at 10:50 AM (#4371755)
I drive a Dodge Stratus!

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