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.