Sunday, August 17, 2008

Free Agent at the End of the Season: Adam Dunn

There are three things that everyone in baseball knows what Adam Dunn can do: hit home runs, walk, and strike out. Power hitters are routinely taken care of on the free agent market and the Dunn will be no different despite his obvious deficiencies. Dunn has benefited from playing in a bandbox in Cincinnati, but most of his shots clear the fence by a good 50 or 60 feet. Dunn is basically a modern day Dave Kingman, who was your classic boom or bust homer run hitter in the 70's and 80's. Kingman and Dunn both posses tons of power, but it is Dunn's ability to get on base that separate him.

The Case for Dunn
-He hits for Power. Dunn has hit at least 40 HR in each of the past 4 seasons and he is well on his way towards 40 HR again this season. Dunn has a 14:1 at bats per home run ratio, which is a ridiculously good ratio. Any team would improve by putting Dunn in the middle of their lineup.

-He gets on base. Dunn has been incredibly consistent in getting on base since 2004 as he's maintained an OBP of at least .380. In this new age of baseball statistics, OBP has become a very trendy stat that GMs, scouts, and baseball personnel swear by.

-He doesn't miss games. Dunn has played in at least 150 games in each of the past four seasons. If you sign him, you know that Dunn can be counted on to be in the lineup everyday.

-Age. Dunn is only 29 years old, which means he is still in the prime of his career and can be expected to continue to hit for power.

The Case Against Dunn
-His low batting average. Clearly, Dunn lacks the ability to hit for average, which prevents him from achieving his full potential as a player. Just imagine if Dunn could consistently hit .260; how much more valuable would that make him? I know batting average is a somewhat overrated statistic, but hitting .230 is simply not good enough.

-Dunn is a liability in the field. Even though Dunn can play first base and left field, he cannot play either position particularly well. Dunn lethargically lumbers around the outfield while he has asked not to play first base (back in 2006). Dunn is DH waiting to happen.

-He strike out A LOT. Dunn is the King of the K. If Dunn strikes out less than 170 times in a season, then it would be a improvement. The whiffs are clearly part of his game, but nothing kills a rally like the almighty K.

This is where Dunn can really takes the cake. He has no competition in the outfield that is of his age or skill, so Dunn should have no problem having teams compete for his services. You can make the case that no other position player (besides Tex) should come close to matching both the length and dollars that Dunn should get.

6 years/$100 million
The obvious contract that his agent should be looking at is the 6 year/$100 million dollar contract that the Astros gave Carlos Lee. Lee and Dunn are similar players because they both play a weak left field, hit for tons of power, and were around the same age during free agency (Dunn is gonna be 29, Lee was 30). I look for Dunn to receive a contract similar to Lee, which should make him smile all the way to the bank.

Dunn will have tons of interest on the free agent market because of his ridiculous power, however, I do believe that his lack of defense and low batting average will shy some teams away. Nevertheless, he should have the Yankees, Orioles, Angels, Braves, Giants, and Diamondbacks to be in on signing Dunn.

We will continue to look at the free agent class of 2009 with Francisco Rodriguez.

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