Thursday, May 6, 2010

Dunn's explanation

Since I was kind of critical of Adam Dunn in that earlier posting about his ninth-inning strikeout last night (in which he watched five straight pitches from Kris Medlen pass him by without ever swinging) it was only fair that I gave Dunn a chance to explain his thinking in that at-bat.

What follows is the transcript of my conversation with Dunn after batting practice this afternoon. As you'll see, he's still killing himself over that strikeout, but he also believes he's got the right approach to hitting and shouldn't change it.

Here you go...

Mark Zuckerman: "In a situation like last night, the ninth inning, do you approach that any different than you would any other at-bat during the game?"

Adam Dunn: "Yeah, I've been thinking about that. Last night was a product of my patience killing me. First of all, if [Brian] McCann's not back there calling pitches -- because he's one of my buddies -- then I get what I'm looking for. The guy's best pitch is his change-up. So I was sitting on change-up the entire at-bat. And of course, I didn't get one. But I've still got to be able to swing. That's just a bad at-bat. Just a bad at-bat."

MZ: "How tough is it to condition yourself to think like that? Or was that just an isolated case last night?"

AD: I mean, when a guy's best pitch is his change-up, and I'm a lefty ... that's why I think it was great calling by McCann. If it's not him ... because he knows me so well, he knows I'm sitting change-up, so he's not going to throw me one, he's going to throw me nothing but heaters. Last night, he knew I was sitting on change-up. But those pitches were still right there. I've got to ... it sucks."

MZ: "Have you, in your progression as a professional hitter, thought about trying to do anything different with two strikes? Or is that tough to do, to change your approach only once you get to that point in the at-bat?"

AD: I don't think my approach changes too much with two strikes. See, I go by feel. When I get two strikes and I do try to open up the strike zone a little bit, I swing at balls I would never swing at. So I'd like to keep the same approach I have the whole at-bat, even when I get two strikes. Because I don't swing at bad pitches normally. That would help me out with two strikes, I would think. But when I get two strikes, if I think, 'OK put the ball in play,' the next thing you know, I'm swinging at pitches I can't do anything with. I'd like to keep the same approach, but for some reason, it's really hard to do."

MZ: "Some people might look at it like you went up there trying to draw a walk."

AD: "No. I never try to draw a walk. I never, NEVER, go up there looking to draw a walk. That's the last thing I was trying to do last night. A walk's not going to do any good there. I was trying to win the game. It was just a bad at-bat."

15 comments:

Chris Needham said...

He took five pitches. 2 of them were clearly balls. 2 were strikes, but on the black -- nothing he could really drive. And, then, one good pitch.

He took 4 pitches he couldn't do anything with, so criticizing him for that isn't really fair. It's not like he took 5 good pitches.

Anonymous said...

There are times to be patient and times to be aggressive. Bottom 9, down 1, #4 hitter up...that's when you want to be aggressive. To walk back to the dugout having never taken the bat off your shoulder..that was a bad at bat.

Chris Needham said...

Sure, in theory. But there was only one hittable pitch in that entire AB. He didn't take 5 hittable pitches. He took 2 clear balls and 2 pitches on the black.

If he had been aggressive, he'd have popped out on a crappy pitch. That's a better option?

Section 222 said...

I give Dunn alot of credit here. He didn't say, "I've got my approach, it works for me, I'm never going to change, and screw all you Thursday morning pinch hitters (that's a Monday morning quarterback in baseball) who have never faced major league pitching." Instead he just plain admits it was a bad at bat. It sounds like he didn't swing at the last pitch because he thought it was a ball and wanted to walk but more because he got fooled. There's no shame int that.

NatsNut said...

yea, at least he owns his sh*t. I love that.

Doc said...

I think the message is getting across to AD that he needs to be slightly more aggressive--not careless, just aggressive. I think that he's saying that about himself too. Great interview Mark. Dunn has got a pretty good track record, and he's a professional ballplayer bigtime!

Nats fan in NJ said...

Lot of credit to both Mark and Adam. This is what journalism and professionalism is all about. Excellent article from Mark earlier and also very professional for him to follow-up with Adam as well as they way Adam faced it.

Well done, Mark. And here's hoping you stay with us for the remainder of your career, Adam.

ckstevenson said...

Why not ask a follow-up on how McCann being such a close friend impacts his at-bats and his ability to hit well against the Braves??

Mark Zuckerman said...

ckstevenson: Dunn's point was that McCann knows him so well, he knew he'd be looking for a change-up, which is why he only called for fastballs. Sorry, figured that came though in his explanation.

Dryw said...

And the moral of the story is...never get friendly with a catcher! ;-) Love Adam's comments, almost as much as I loved his statement (over on the WaPo blog) "I just play, dude." Good enough for me!

e6 said...

The "I'm a lefty" part of the quote is important. Change ups are particularly effective against opposite hand hitters so Dunn's reasoning goes like this. "His best pitch is a change up, I'm a lefty (he's a righty) this is a critical point in the game. If I'm patient, he has to throw me his best pitch." Great interview Mark!

Anonymous said...

I like Dunn. He's a straight shooter. He's also one of those big leaguers who has one incredible skill. The rest of his game wouldn't get him a shot in the minors. He seems to get this. He works his ass of to have good ABs and he does his best to improve as a fielder.

FOTB said...

It never fails to amaze me how much thinking goes into hitting with professionals. It really is a chess match, where each player (hitter vs. catcher and pitcher) tries to out-think the other. It's so much more than just trying to hit what the pitcher throws. It's a much deeper game at this level than most people realize.

e6 said...

On further reflection at the 2-2 count Dunn had a real dilemna. It's a perfect change up count, change ups look like fast balls but because they are slower they also end up lower and farther away than the fast ball released at the same place. If he looks fastball and gets a change he either swings over a ball or gets out on his front foot and hits a weak grounder to the 2nd baseman. If he looks change he'll be way late on the fastball. I think he was sure it was going to be a change and by the time he realized it was a fastball he couldn't pull the trigger. I would have bet on the change too.

Aeoliano said...

Another clear indication as to how important your catcher, your game manager is ... if there is any one thing I think you would have to point to as a difference between last year and this it would be Pudge. The savvy veteran signed to save the starters flopped miserably (Marquis). To the point where Bowden call his the very worst off season free agent signing. So, then, who else is new? Other than Livan who was there at the end of last year? But hey isn't his pitching decidedly better than at the end of last year?

The starting pitchers are basically pretty much the same set of guys from last year ... yet they are competing better. The bullpen, other than Capps, that was acquired to shore things up has been pretty damned miserable 'bout the same as last year ...

Except for Clippard who was also here last year.

Looks like its Pudge with the pitchers plus much better UZR's on the field ... because the offense still isn't what it was last year.

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