• Adam Dunn

    Posted by on December 2nd, 2008 · Comments (26)

    Some comments left by readers, recently, at this blog have expressed that the Yankees should consider signing free agent Adam Dunn.

    First, a disclosure. Back in 2000, when he was in the minors and playing for the Dayton Dragons, Adam Dunn autographed a baseball for me. So, yes, I have a spot for him in my heart because of that act of kindness.

    However, that said, I don’t want him playing for the Yankees. Why? Here goes…

    Over at FanGraphs.com they track a stat called “Clutch.” What’s that? “Clutch” is a measurement of how much better or worse a player does in high leverage situations than he would have done in a context neutral environment. Makes sense…right?

    And, who was the worst in baseball last year in terms of “Clutch”? Why, it was none other than Alex Rodriguez who had a “Clutch” mark of -3.16that’s who. (Remember that the next time someone wants to discuss A-Rod’s 2008 numbers and the notion of “stat padding.”)

    How about 2007? Who had the worst “Clutch” mark then? Curtis Granderson: -2.44

    And, 2006? That would be Jason Bay: -2.15

    2005? Shawn Green: -2.52

    I think you get the idea here. Any “Clutch” mark that’s a negative number and moving away from negative-one is not a good thing. O.K., so, what does this have to do with Adam Dunn?

    Check out Adam Dunn’s “Clutch” marks for the last three seasons:

    2006: -0.57
    2007: -1.24
    2008: -0.24

    In fact, since 2001, overall, Dunn has posted a “Clutch” mark of -1.34 (over 8 seasons).

    By the way, A-Rod’s career “Clutch” to date? It’s -9.18…yikes.

    Back to Dunn…add the truth that Adam Dunn is a butcher in left-field defensively to is batting woes. And, what do you have?

    You’ve got a defensive liability who pads his stats in non-clutch situations. It’s like having the love-child from the union of Jason Giambi and Alex Rodriguez except the poor kid got nothing but the bad genes. And, do the Yankees really need to add that to their team, right now?

    Comments on Adam Dunn

    1. December 3rd, 2008 | 8:28 am

      “like having the love-child from the union of Jason Giambi and Alex Rodriguez ”

      Not a pretty picture.

    2. MJ
      December 3rd, 2008 | 9:36 am

      Without getting into the A-Rod discussion (amazing how in knocking Dunn you still manage several jabs at A-Rod here), can you tell me what you would propose in lieu of Dunn?

      Given a choice between Dunn and Teixeira, I personally choose Teixeira. But assuming for a moment that Teixeira is not a likely outcome, what would you do to address the potential for another season of less-than-stellar offense? You’ve gone on record as saying that you think it’s a bad idea to keep Cano since you think 2008 wasn’t a fluke. So, without Dunn, what would you do to improve the offense?

    3. December 3rd, 2008 | 10:08 am

      ~~what would you do to improve the offense?~~

      Pray for Posada and Jeter to rebound in 2009. Other than that, the next thing is to improve your fielding and pitching – because there’s not much you can do to improve this offense. It is what it is – and it’s not all that bad. Yeah, it’s not a 900+ runs offense. But, with some better SP and defense, it doesn’t have to be one to win 95 games.

      What kind of offense did the Rays have last season? Pitching and defense, my friends, pitching and defense…

    4. MJ
      December 3rd, 2008 | 10:22 am

      What kind of offense did the Rays have last season? Pitching and defense, my friends, pitching and defense…
      ————————
      We’ll see if it holds true for the Rays again in 2009. Pythagorean W/L had them as the second-highest positive divergence from expected wins (Angels were first, and highest for a division winner in baseball).

    5. MJ
      December 3rd, 2008 | 10:24 am

      Pray for Posada and Jeter to rebound in 2009.
      ————————–
      First, it’s pretty silly to count on a 36 year old and a 34 year old as your biggest rebound hopes. If 2007 and 2008 showed us anything, it’s that Jeter’s getting worse, not better.

      Second, improving your defense is pretty hard when Jeter is your everyday shortstop.

      Third, and most important, it amuses me that “prayer” would be your plan to improve the Yanks in 2009. If Cashman had said that, you would’ve likely had a heart attack.

    6. December 3rd, 2008 | 10:34 am

      When you’re rooting for a team that Cashman has constructed, prayer for succuss may just be your most practical approach.. ;-)

    7. thenewguy
      December 3rd, 2008 | 10:35 am

      What kind of offense did the Rays have last season? Pitching and defense, my friends, pitching and defense…
      ——————————

      Pitching and defense should COMPLIMENT a good offense, not replace (and vice versa.) I don’t see how you can so easily poo-poo the importance of an offense when it is clear that our offense is what cost us a playoff trip last year. If the offense sucks you say; “Get another pitcher! and someone who can play defense!”? No! You go out and try to get a big bat.

      Also, about his “clutch.” I don’t know enough about the “clutch” stat to say its worth or not. But if you let me borrow from River Ave. Blues case for Dunn: “he’s also nice and clutchy (2.81 avg WPA over the last five years)” WPA=Win Probability Added.

      A good WPA basically means that he does things to improve his teams chances to win, at any point in the game. This would indicate that his doesn’t ‘stat pad’ but instead contributes to his team’s chances of winning.

      I like Dunn as a fallback option. He is a FAR better option than Giambi and could easily smack 50 HRs and 120 RBIs with that short porch in right.
      .

    8. MJ
      December 3rd, 2008 | 10:38 am

      When you’re rooting for a team that Cashman has constructed, prayer for succuss may just be your most practical approach.
      ———————
      Even I have to laugh at that one. :)

    9. December 3rd, 2008 | 10:57 am

      I cannot speak to what’s written at that blog you mentioned newguy – as I don’t read that one.

      But, I can tell you that this weekend, I happened to ask David Appleman, the man behind FanGraphs, the following question: Is WPA less WPA/LI the best way to determine which batter “pads his stats”in non-clutch situations?

      And, this was his answer: “I’m not sure if it’s the best way, because there will also be an element of how well a player does in high leverage situations too. WPA – WPA/LI is more or less the Clutch calculation, it’s actually WPA/pLI – WPA/LI, but for batters pLI is usually near 1 anyway. A-Rod for instance did pad his stats in low leverage situations, but he also did pretty poorly in high leverage situations, which is why his WPA – WPA/LI in 2008 is ridiculously low.”

      ~~~So, to me, this says that when it comes to determining clutch, you cannot just look at WPA.

    10. Raf
      December 3rd, 2008 | 11:02 am

      And, who was the worst in baseball last year in terms of “Clutch”? Why, it was none other than Alex Rodriguez who had a “Clutch” mark of -3.16 – that’s who. (Remember that the next time someone wants to discuss A-Rod’s 2008 numbers and the notion of “stat padding.”)
      ——————
      And the best? Stephen Drew, who had a “clutch” mark of 2.09.

      Oooh, Kosuke Fukudome had a clutch mark of 1.11! During the 2nd half of the season he posted the following line; .225/.322/.333. Yep, you read that right, a .656 OPS the second half of the season.

      I think I’ll take the player that can produce over 3-4-500 AB’s than the player who has clutchy clutchitiude over a 100 or so at bats…

    11. Raf
      December 3rd, 2008 | 11:03 am

      Even I have to laugh at that one. :)
      ——-
      I did :D

    12. Raf
      December 3rd, 2008 | 11:08 am

      What kind of offense did the Rays have last season? Pitching and defense, my friends, pitching and defense…
      —————–
      Yep… Any Blue Jays fan will tell you that ;)

    13. December 3rd, 2008 | 11:13 am

      ~~I think I’ll take the player that can produce over 3-4-500 AB’s than the player who has clutchy clutchitiude over a 100 or so at bats…~~

      FWIW, the player with a high OPS and a low “Clutch” has value. Those are the guys who put the fans in the seats and get the viewers to watch on TV. Those are the guys who help sell shirts and hats, etc. But, at the end of the day, it’s the guys with CONSISTENTLY good “Clutch” marks who are the difference between you being a playoff team or not…as well as winning or not in the post-season. But, that’s just my opinion.

      And, as the bumper-sticker that I saw last night driving home said: “JESUS LOVES YOU…the rest of us think you’re an asshole.”

      So, I realize that I could be alone on this feeling about OPS/Clutch, etc.

    14. Raf
      December 3rd, 2008 | 11:39 am

      But, at the end of the day, it’s the guys with CONSISTENTLY good “Clutch” marks who are the difference between you being a playoff team or not…as well as winning or not in the post-season.
      ————
      You have to go down 16 spots to get to Pat Burrell (1.07)

      18 & 20 have Akinori Iwamura (.95)& Carlos Peña (.83)respectively…

      Given that this is the first time the Phils have won since 1980, and this is the first time the Rays have made the postseason in their history, I may have to disagree with you.

      Not sure where the other angle fits in, as I’ve always respected your opinion…

    15. MJ
      December 3rd, 2008 | 11:56 am

      But, at the end of the day, it’s the guys with CONSISTENTLY good “Clutch” marks who are the difference between you being a playoff team or not…as well as winning or not in the post-season.
      ———————
      Sounds like code for Brosius > A-Rod to me. You’re entitled to your opinion but that just doesn’t make any sense at all.

    16. Raf
      December 3rd, 2008 | 12:02 pm

      Sounds like code for Brosius > A-Rod to me.
      ——–
      Brosius Clutch Stats
      98: .51
      99: -.05
      00:-1.07
      01: .49

    17. MJ
      December 3rd, 2008 | 12:10 pm

      Raf, I’m not saying Brosius was better, I’m simply remarking that it sounded like Steve was trying to say that.

      This whole notion of stat padding makes no sense to me. A guy hits a solo homer in the first, strikes out with a man on in the seventh, the Yanks win 1-0, and somehow the strikeout in the seventh is remembered but not the fact that A-Rod provided the only run of the game.

      The guy hits a homer in a game when the team is ahead by five runs? Yanks end up losing by four. OK. What would you have him do, strike out instead? Fly out? Or is bringing the team to within four runs not a good thing because it’s then his fault that no one was on base and no one after him did anything else.

    18. Corey
      December 3rd, 2008 | 1:20 pm

      I’d say the best thing this clutch stat could be used for is qualifying pinch hitters…

    19. Raf
      December 3rd, 2008 | 2:16 pm

      Raf, I’m not saying Brosius was better
      ——-
      I know that, I just threw the numbers out there for context.

    20. MJ
      December 3rd, 2008 | 2:30 pm

      I know that, I just threw the numbers out there for context.
      ———–
      OK, gotcha.

    21. Raf
      December 3rd, 2008 | 2:58 pm

      Don Mattingly Clutch Stats

      85: -.17
      86: -.17
      87: -.83
      88:-1.03
      89: 1.20
      91: .81
      92: .61
      93: .25
      94:1.93
      95:-.89

      Why this guy is so revered is beyond me ;)

    22. OnceIWasAYankeeFan
      December 3rd, 2008 | 3:38 pm

      Dunn is a major drag on defense but its ridiculous to look at a guy with his slugging and OBP and think this guy can’t be a big help on offense. Yeah he strikeouts too often and the BA sucks too. But factor in the dimensions of Yankee Stadium and you probably end up with 55 homers instead of his usual 40.

      And as for that so-called “clutch” stat: does it factor in that he has mostly spent his career as the only significant bat on his team, and that maybe opposing teams hardly ever pitch to him in those situations?

      Anyone who gets on at a near .400 clip and hits 40 homers a year (and would surely hit more in a more conducive park) is a huge help to any team’s offense. The Yankees ought to see what they can get for Matsui and install Dunn as full time DH, with maybe 20 or 30 starts in the field. No different than what Matsui will give, except that Dunn will double his home runs and easily exceed his OPS.

      Except that Steve will miss Matsui’s clutchiness.

    23. MJ
      December 3rd, 2008 | 3:56 pm

      Anyone who gets on at a near .400 clip and hits 40 homers a year (and would surely hit more in a more conducive park)
      —————–
      I am not saying you’re right or wrong but I always thought that Great American Ballpark in Cincy profiled as a hitter-friendly park. Maybe I’m wrong but that was always my impression.

    24. Raf
      December 3rd, 2008 | 4:13 pm

      I am not saying you’re right or wrong but I always thought that Great American Ballpark in Cincy profiled as a hitter-friendly park.
      ———-
      It appears that it became a hitter’s park during the 2005 season, if I read the park factors correctly.

      HR H/R splits
      02: 13/13
      03: 16/11
      04: 25/21
      05: 26/14
      06: 22/18
      07: 19/21
      08: 21/19 (16/16 CIN)(5/3 AZ)

    25. OnceIWasAYankeeFan
      December 3rd, 2008 | 5:31 pm

      I’m not surprised but for a lefty power hitter, nothing can compare to Yankee Stadium. And as Raf’s numbers show, there were only a couple of seasons that Dunn showed anything like a significant difference at home, and over the last two seasons was exactly 50/50 in his splits.

    26. Corey
      December 3rd, 2008 | 7:19 pm

      wanting to see the dimensions of cincy’s park, i looked it up through mlb.com, and its 325′ down the line in right. thinking 9 feet is going to add 15 home runs is silly

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