Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Dunn's strange start

There is perhaps no more consistent offensive player in baseball than Adam Dunn, who pretty much knows on Opening Day what his numbers will look like come October 1: 40 homers, 100 RBI, more than 100 walks.

So Dunn isn't overly concerned on April 13 that his home run total still stands at zero and his RBI total at one. (Don't forget, he also failed to homer all spring.)

"I would be panicking a little bit if I wasn't seeing the ball as well as I am," he said. "I'm not worried about that part. That part will be there."

Still, Dunn's first week of the season was a strange one. He's batting a paltry .111 (2-for-18). Both hits are singles, so his slugging percentage is a pathetic .111. Yet he leads the league with 10 walks, producing a stout .448 on-base percentage.

When's the last time you heard of a player whose OBP was 337 points higher than his slugging percentage?

"I don't think there's an excuse why," Dunn said. "I think I'm just not putting the balls in play or getting hits on pitches I normally do. The good thing is, I'm feeling good, so I know it's going to change."

Dunn does have a reputation sometimes for being too selective at the plate, for taking borderline pitches that lead either to walks or strikeouts instead of taking a hack at them and trying to drive in runs. That has often kept his RBI total a bit lower than you'd expect for a player who mashes 40 homers and regularly hits out of the cleanup spot.

But it's probably too early to be overly concerned about Dunn's offensive numbers. As he's shown throughout his career, the numbers will be there come season's end.

The Nats, though, could certainly use a little more production out of their biggest power threat ASAP.

"We haven't even gotten started yet [hitting], and we're doing OK because we're playing with intensity, we're playing with some passion and we're getting after it," manager Jim Riggleman said. "We're scrapping and clawing. Adam hasn't gotten going yet, but he's got 10 walks. He's out there. He's on base. So look how good this is going to be when we get going."


Anonymous8 said...

Anonymous8 said...
Anonymous8 said...
Rumors, rumors, rumors. Gammons may get a little egg on his face on that one. 100 innings as a cap for MLB time or combined?

My question of the day for Mark Z. is what has happened to Adam Dunn's power? We didn't see it all Spring Training and besides some majestic foul balls, no Homers yet.

April 12, 2010 9:36 AM

Mark - I threw you a meatball yesterday morning and you didn't even take a swing on this Dunn thing.

I see Nats320 picked up on it this morning.

Is there a gag order in town for the mainstream media not to talk about Dunn's lack of power?

Ok, now I am impressed! I ask the question yesterday and you prepared an entire analysis!

You took the meatball and not only hit a homer, you hit it 450 feet!

NatsNut said...

You hit the nail on the head about him being too selective. It's really the only thing that frustrates me about him (as long as he's not in the outfield, that is). The man can take a pitch like nobody's business but sometimes you just want him to shut up an mash the thing already.

Anonymous said...

If all our hitters were as patient as Dunn we wouldn't even need offense, we would just walk our way to victory. My take on it is that Dunn just hasn't gotten many super hittable pitches thus far, especially with Zimmerman out of the lineup. Like he said, he's obviously seeing the ball as well as he ever has, and he's still a massive guy, so I'm not too concerned with his performance thus far.

You're right, though, that the Nats REALLY need his bat right now, since at the moment none of the hitters behind him seem to be able to drive him in after he gets on base. Maybe he should bat leadoff instead, it would make just as much sense as batting Taveras second.

NatsFan2005 said...

Dunn's lack of power didn't start this spring, but last September, when he reached 38 homers early in the month then never hit another. It's been a very long drought.

Anonymous said...

Have to wonder if his focus on fielding better at 1st base has had an effect on his hitting. The fielding is mixed so far but you can see improvement. Even making some pretty challenging plays ... and then screwing up on some basic stuff.

Last September he was also working on preparing for and getting better at his new permanent position: 1st base after the Nick Johnson trade.

Fielding seems a bit of a challenge for him. He seems to lose focus at times but I believe he enjoys the challenge and so should get better and more comfortable at 1st base this year. And then the hitting will likely come.

Tcostant said...

I'm not worried about Dunn at all.

I am worried about the defense and the pen.

dale said...

"You're right, though, that the Nats REALLY need his bat right now, since at the moment none of the hitters behind him seem to be able to drive him in after he gets on base."

Willingham seems to have done a reasonably good job of picking up the rbi slack. In fact the Nats offense has been peaking only when a single player has an outstanding day whether it be Willingham or Taveras. I am fine with that as long as someone picks up the baton each day. The top 4 hitters by order in the lineup have generally been woeful and most of offense seems to have come from positions 5 through 9.

Yesterday's loss was a painful, grueling exhibition, sort of like watching an anaconda squeezing its victim before digesting it. Once the Phillies took the momentum the Nats were mired in a helpless agony.

Anonymous said...

Dunn won't be leading the league in walks too much longer, once the pitchers realize he can't hit a baseball.

Bote Man said...

Maybe they should bat Dunn leadoff???

bdrube said...

Well, thank goodness we haven't agreed on a contract extension for him yet. The last thing we need is another two expensive years of non-production ala Dmitri Young.

I also don't understand how Dunn could lose power by focusing on his defense. He is a professional baseball player. Is it too much to ask him to hone two skills at once?

phil dunn said...

Dunn had a huge slump last September and he was stuck on 39 home runs forever. He didn't hit in spring training and he's not hitting now. That's a long slump. Management should not be anxious to extend his contract until this gets sorted out.

David said...


You owe Mark an apology for even mentioning Mr. Baba Booey teeth Nats 320 on this blog. The Nats FO loves that guy for regurgitating South Capitol Street talking points, but my "defining moment" was when MASN stopped running that stupid ad featuring StanK's Best Friend.

Anonymous said...

I think a lot of Nats fans should avoid investing in the stock market. They seem to love to buy high and sell low. Adam Dunn, right now, and, IMO, for a very short period, is at his low point in terms of hitting. A slump. Everybody gets them. Now is the time to lock him up. When he gets hot his agent is going to lock him up for the rest of the season and its by-by Adam at the end of the year. For nothin. Nada. Maybe they get a A prospect in some rookie league at the trading deadline. Not smart. Sometimes you don't recognize the diamonds in your own back yard. And no, I am not Adam Dunn's agent.

Don't walk me, bro said...

"I would be panicking a little bit if I wasn't seeing the ball as well as I am," [Dunn] said. "I'm not worried about that part. That part will be there."
Good to know he doesn't need Lasik; if only it was his EYESIGHT we were worried about! It's his ability to his a baseball that concerns me.

Steve M. said...

David said...

You owe Mark an apology for even mentioning Mr. Baba Booey teeth Nats 320 on this blog. The Nats FO loves that guy for regurgitating South Capitol Street talking points, but my "defining moment" was when MASN stopped running that stupid ad featuring StanK's Best Friend.

April 13, 2010 12:59 PM


Good point although even Baba Phooey was smart enough to read Anon8's post yesterday that nobody responded to so maybe he was smart enough to run with it as a story. He just beat Mark to it by an hour.

It did seem the media has been laying off of this story. It wasn't a big deal that he didn't bash 6 or 7 in September but when Adam wasn't hitting HRs in Spring Training and none in the 1st 7 games maybe you wonder so glad Mark asked the questions. Dunn did after all promise Jack Diamond on 107.3 that he would hit one on Opening Day, then you start to wonder as Dunn is a man of his words. LOL Can we blame Jack Diamond or Baba Phooey??

Anonymous said...

Dunn will be fine -- Dunn and Zimmerman are the least of this team's worries. Maybe the lack of an extension of affecting him. Give him his contract and enjoy his production thereafter. We heard all this with Zimmerman. Once he got his contract, then he really started to relax and get locked in.

Comparing Dunn to Dmitri Young is like comparing Filet Mignon to Alpo.

johninmpls said...

I don't think there's a reason to correlate last September's slump and Dunn's slow start. Dunn always tails off in September. It's part of his reliability.

And the season is too young to consider this a slump, especially the way he's been getting on base. I certainly would have appreciated a hit or two in the middle innings over the past week, but I'm not freaking out about it.

Anonymous said...

I have a one word answer as to why Dunn is not hitting well, INJURY! Remember he hurt his back in Spring Training my guess he is trying to tough it out!

Anonymous8 said...

Ok, David said I must apologize for any mention of Baba Boohigh in this discussion. Sorry Mark.

Sample Size said...

Mark, this is interesting, but I think Dunn's right. It's a non-story. He's had 4400+ MLB ABs. He averages 1 HR/14 ABs. He's had 18ABs so far. So he should have 1, maybe 2 so far. That's it. It's so early, Dunn's "long slump" has him 1 or maybe 2 HRs off the pace.

As for September, that's also a non-story. Though he averages 1 HR/14ABs over the career, he averages 1 HR/22ABs over September on average. So last September/Oct, he hit 3 HRs over 99 ABs. That's 1/33ABs. If he hits one more, that's 1/25 ABs - well within his norm. Basically, this all boils down to "Adam should have hit one more HR in September and have at least one so far this year." If it's June and he still hasn't hit one, then I think it's something.

Anonymous said...

In other news Kobernus appears to be shredding the "sally league" currently hitting .564. Have to wonder if Potomac or even Harrisburg is on the horizon for this guy. 'pears to be another good choice for Rizzo.

Anonymous said...

Hey Mark, I have a question a little off topic here: Why are the Nats now wearing red socks and sleeves with the road uniforms? In the past blue was the primary away color. Now the blue hat kind of doesn't fit with the rest of the look. Now I like the fact that they wore primarily red at home and blue on the road, but do you think now they'll eventually switch to the red caps on the road also?


Sec 204 Row H Seat 7 said...

I think that it is a bit premature on the part of one of the "no names" to feel Dunn has lost the ability to hit a baseball. Also, I have been reading certain blogs since of '05 including NATS 320. Don't undrstand the disonance. At least, he has continued straight thorugh, unlike the great Needham who took off last year almost to the week only to return at the start of Spring Training. No need for the disparagement, there is room for all kinds of fans, blogs (and God knows we have tthem) in the NATOSPHERE.

natsfan1a said...

I agree, 204. Wonder whether those who bash him on here may be blogging competitors? There are certainly plenty of Nats blogs out there. If one doesn't like a given blog*, one needn't read it. OTOH, I'd also opine that blog readership is not an entitlement. As Kasten might say, you get the readership you deserve. ;-)

*I happen to appreciate the Nats320 blog, but that's just my personal preference.

Mark Zuckerman said...

Natsone VA, re: the new look of the road uniforms ... yes, they do look a little strange now with the red socks and long sleeves and the navy blue cap. Though I guess the Cardinals and Red Sox have always looked OK with that combo. I wouldn't be surprised if eventually they just go with a red curly W cap home and away, though. I also wouldn't be surprised if the lettering on the home jersey changes at some point. Ownership seems to prefer the cursive lettering found on the "Washington" road jerseys than the block letting found on the "Nationals" home jerseys. If anyone asked me -- and they haven't -- I'd just have a red curly W logo on the left chest of the home jersey, nothing else. Like the Tigers' classic home jersey.

Brian R. said...

"When's the last time you heard of a player whose OBP was 337 points higher than his slugging percentage?"

Last week. Nick Johnson opened the season batting .000 and OBP-ing .600.

Anonymous said...

There's a reason the great Needham returned to his own blog after taking a year off. He lost his gig at NBCWashington.com due to an unfortunate derogatory column he wrote there. On his own blog he can get away with stuff like that, and delete comments from people like me who point out how he is pushing that incident nder the rug instead of owning up to his mistake like a man. Perhaps the great Needham is not so great after all.






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