Why not Adam Dunn?

Boy, does MLBTradeRumors give your site a bump in exposure when it links you. Thanks again to the crew there for linking to my Ryan Howard article from a few days ago.

While I have your attention, I figure I might share a couple thoughts I’ve had recently focusing on left field.

As I’ve made clear, I’m not a proponent of the Raul Ibanez signing. I’m against GM Ruben Amaro’s decision to be hasty and overpay, as well as the choice of player in general.

If you recall, I concluded that article with the declaration that I would’ve preferred Manny Ramirez, even given the price tag. Well, now that the market has developed further, here’s another name I absolutely would have preferred over Ibanez: Adam Dunn.

No, I’m not off my rocker just yet. Trade Ryan Howard? Add another lefty strikeout machine to your lineup? Indeed.

Adam Dunn may, in fact, be the most underrated baseball player of the last four to five years. Heck, you may even be shaking your head at my words because you believe that Dunn is nothing more than a Ryan Howard clone with slightly less power.

Your beliefs would be fairly accurate.

It’s true, Dunn’s power numbers over the last three season do not quite match up with Howard. Here’s a look at their stats from 2006 to 2008:

2006-08 Dunn Howard
PA 1,966 2,052
AVG 0.244 0.277
OBP 0.379 0.385
SLG 0.519 0.595
HR 120 153
K 523 579
HR% 7.5 8.9
K% 32.6 33.8

The only brief disclaimers this table could have is that Dunn has done the same thing for about two additional years before Howard broke in as a full-time player. Also, don’t think I’m saying the Phillies should have one instead of the other or starting some sort of Howard witch hunt. I’m merely illustrating a point.

And that point is this: if you want a left-handed bat in left field to replace a departing Pat Burrell, Dunn is probably the guy you want. That table may not do the best job of illustrating that point, though, because as Dunn has maintained a consistent level of production, Howard’s averages and totals are constantly tugged at from opposite directions. His 2006 season gives everything a boost, while 2008 tends to add a bit of drag.

This is a factor you can’t deny, and it isn’t as if Dunn is ancient and aging. He’s seven years younger than Ibanez, and just 10 days older than Howard. Additionally, should Howard eventually be traded, Dunn could most certainly move to first base.

But comparing Dunn to Howard is not the issue; that was merely to provide a basis of reference. Dunn is what the Phillies do not have, Ibanez is what they do. Let’s see how those two players stack up in the same categories:

2006-08 Dunn Ibanez
PA 1,966 2,042
AVG 0.244 0.291
OBP 0.379 0.354
SLG 0.519 0.492
HR 120 77
K 523 322
HR% 7.5 4
K% 32.6 17.5

Now, take a moment to understand just what those numbers tell you. They tell you, quite simply, that while more of Ibanez’s at-bats end in hits and fewer end in strikeouts, Adam Dunn just makes fewer outs altogether. And, as Joe Posnanski says, isn’t that what batting is really all about?

Neither plays stellar defense – far from it, in fact – and so that part of the equation is moot.

You see the numbers. What the question boils down to is this: would you rather pay t he36-year-old Ibanez an escalating amount for the next three years, or the 30-year-old done a much smaller amount over what could be the same time, knowing what kind of offense each gives your lineup?

If you ask me, I’d answer Dunn.

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10 Comments

Filed under General Bull

10 responses to “Why not Adam Dunn?

  1. Scranton JJ

    Well done

  2. Padre

    Ibanez is a real head-scratcher. I think you’re right on target with Dunn … and probably more like him to compare. It sure seems like a decision was made before it had to be on our left fielder. It’s still early but did we get the right GM to replace Gillick?

  3. GoPhils

    You say we would be correct to assume that Adam Dunn is a “Ryan Howard clone with slightly less power.”

    Ryan Howard’s career OPS is 71 points higher than Dunn’s.

    That’s about the same as the difference in career OPS between Mark Teixiera and Adam LaRoche.

    Would we be correct to call Adam LaRoche a, “Mark Teixiera clone with slightly less power”?

  4. GoPhils

    Padre asked, “It’s still early but did we get the right GM to replace Gillick?”

    We sure won’t know from this move. The decision to let Burrell go obviously was made when Gillick was still the GM. Pat wanted to stay, but the team never made him a serious offer.

    And Gillick’s chair was not even cold yet when they signed Ibanez.

    I think it’s clear that Gillick believes the Phils are better off with Ibanez than they would have been with Burrell (or Dunn). I know his track record in building championship lineups is no match for the Phrontiersman’s, but I understand he’s had some success.

  5. padre

    We’ll see. I think it’s clear that Gillick was finished well before the moves took place. He had one foot out the door before the season started. I’m not so sure he was the determining factor. Time will tell.

  6. thatsmyboye

    Before my position as a self-appointed expert gets simultaneously assigned and torn down, I’ll remind you that this is all speculation and food for thought. When comparing their salaries, as well the types of players they are and the production they are trying to replace, some of it makes sense.

    And I think you underestimate Adam Laroche! A career 114 OPS+ isn’t terrible at all. Is he Teixeira? Nah. But he’s not mincemeat.

  7. Ash

    Great stuff, keep it up.

  8. “Ryan Howard’s career OPS is 71 points higher than Dunn’s.”

    You also have to remember that Ryan Howard has both a .425 OBP and a .339 OBP for a seasonal average, and has only played three and a half seasons. Adam Dunn’s high and low are .400 and .354 and he’s played 7 full seasons. He has 5 straight seasons of 40+ HR and 100+ BB. He is both consistent, and good. He only missed 20 games in those last 5 years.

    In addition, Dunn plays left (and right) field. The average OPS+ for those positions are third and second overall, trailing… 1st base.

    I know why TMB brought up Howard and Dunn to compare, but what you really want to do is compare Dunn to BURRELL and see how he shakes out.

  9. You’re now linked on both of my sites.

  10. Lakecareylady

    Great job! I’m learning a lot. Keep up the good work.

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