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Report: Nationals unlikely to re-sign Adam Dunn because of defense (and one scout is insane)

Sep 28, 2010, 11:49 AM EDT

Reports about contract talks between Adam Dunn and the Nationals have varied so much throughout the season that it’s tough to know what to believe at this point, but today Ben Goessling of writes that “sources familiar with the team’s thinking” believe “they’re likely to let him walk” as a free agent.
According to Goessling “the team continues to view Dunn’s defense at first base as a sticking point, and is reluctant to give him the four-year deal he prefers because of it.” Goessling quotes an opposing team’s scout as saying that “the only person in the front office who wants to re-sign him is the owner.”
The same scout went on to make the absolutely absurd claim that Dunn’s defense at first base “costs them half a run a game” and “is worse than it looks on paper.” In other words, there’s a person paid to watch and evaluate professional baseball players who thinks Adam Dunn has cost the Nationals about 80 runs with his defense this season. To put that in some context, the Nationals have allowed a grand total of 724 runs this season.
Not only has no first baseman in baseball history ever cost his team anywhere near 80 runs in a season defensively, you can be pretty certain no player at any position has ever been 80 runs below average in a single year. It’s a ridiculous assertion with no basis in reality that gets passed off as something other than worthless by virtue of the presumption that every scout knows what he’s talking about on all things baseball.
If you’re curious, Ultimate Zone Rating pegs Dunn as 1.9 runs below average on defense this season, which ranks eighth-worst among full-time first basemen. Prince Fielder has the worst first baseman UZR at -9.2 runs. Looking at all positions, Carlos Quentin has the worst UZR at 17.6 runs below average, followed by Jonny Gomes at -14.7, Matt Kemp at -14.6, and Carlos Lee at -13.9. In other words, according to UZR the four worst defenders and the worst defensive first baseman have been 70 runs below average this season … combined.
Whether or not the Nationals re-sign Dunn, they should consider themselves lucky not to employ that scout.

  1. Old Gator - Sep 28, 2010 at 12:22 PM

    Looks like a headon collision between the stat freaks and the myth freaks here, but if Washington isn’t the ideal venue for the stuck switch that would place both locomotives on a Casey Jones agenda, I don’t know where ain’t. Or something.
    The point is, even if you actually were to come up with some way to document how many runners Dunn allows and then quantify that for a season (never mind that you’d first have had to figure out what the average first baseman allows per season), you’d also have to factor in the number of times he sat out a game or was replaced in the late innings with someone whose entire spine wasn’t fused solid and whose gut didn’t throw off their center of gravity so much that bending over (much less diving) were geometrically impossible. By then you’d have withdrawn the saber from its metric and committed seppuku with the damned thing.
    Give me myth. It’s cleaner.

  2. Jonny5 - Sep 28, 2010 at 12:23 PM

    Dunn pulled off a whole bunch of run saving plays against the Phillies this season. His first base performance has improved by leaps and bounds imo, which shows he’s got the attitude you want in a player. He’s always willing to try his best to get better. He even gave it all in the OF, he’s just not built for that, and quite honestly was very entertaining playing out there. Bad news Bears style. Anyway, I think they still need him and i think they’ll keep him. I like Dunn, he seems like a great guy. But then again, so did Nyjer….

  3. Proudly Canadian - Sep 28, 2010 at 12:32 PM

    Dunn should be a DH. Boston is probably out as is Toronto. Could Baltimore or Detroit use him?

  4. Old Gator - Sep 28, 2010 at 12:43 PM

    He is the DH. They sit the first baseman.

  5. Old Gator - Sep 28, 2010 at 12:44 PM

    The idea of Dunn leaping and bounding makes me think that the engineers ought to check the girders at both stadiums for signs of metal fatigue and stress fracturing.

  6. kenbuddha - Sep 28, 2010 at 12:47 PM

    White Sox.

  7. The Steve Jeltz Experiment - Sep 28, 2010 at 1:20 PM

    It sounds like Nats management is looking for an excuse not to re-sign Dunn. I’m sympathetic to the desire not to get locked into a long-term deal with a first baseman who would be far better as a DH in a league without a DH (hey, Ruben Amaro! Are you listening?), but the scout’s statement is patently absurd. No one is that bad at first base — it’s like the crap Phillies fans used to read about Rico Brogna’s defensive prowess, only in reverse.

  8. doctorfunke - Sep 28, 2010 at 1:27 PM

    They should trade him for Edwin Jacks…. oh wait.

  9. Jonny5 - Sep 28, 2010 at 1:33 PM

    LMAO!!! He is a big boy isn’t he? Looks like he should be hiking footballs through his legs rather than playing baseball. The man does have pop in his bat though.

  10. Old Gator - Sep 28, 2010 at 1:48 PM

    But does he have a Bat Glove?

  11. Steve C - Sep 28, 2010 at 2:05 PM

    No glove, no love

  12. CYGNUS X-1 - Sep 28, 2010 at 7:44 PM

    10 bucks says the scout was reds scout.the fans turned on him there because the reds radio broadcaster didn’t like the fact he walked so much. right,I understand he strikes out alot but all sluggers do but how anybody can be pissed that he walks alot is just stupid.I guess he would rather have him strike out than get on it was his fault the guy behind him could not drive him in.he was brutal in the outfield but he made up for it by hitting 40 homers every year. I am sick of people making up stats trying to fit thier view of the game. who comes with stupid things like how many runs a first baseman allows?the bottom line is you can either play the game or not and dunn can play it.

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