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A Kind Word for Adam Dunn
by Asher B. Chancey, BaseballEvolution.com
May 5, 2009
Warning: I am about to say something good about Adam Dunn.
I have become one of the biggest Andre Ethier busters in the country. To some people, Ethier has always had potential, and he has finally blossomed into a good/great major league hitter. To me, Ethierís career can be divided into two segments Ė Before Manny and With Manny. Ethierís solid 2008 was built upon a mediocre first half and a fantastic second half, and it was during the second half that the Dodgers had Manny Ramirez.
Why am I convinced of this? Because a player like Manny makes the whole lineup better, the same way Bonds did, and Pujols does. Hit ahead of him, and he protects you. Hit behind him, and heís on base half the time, which creates opportunities. Even when he isnít hitting, heís taking walks. He always helps.
And yes, super incredible St. Louis Cardinals offense, Iím coming for you next.
So why does this matter? It matters because last season the Washington Nationals had one of the worst offenses in baseball, and this year they have improved drastically. And it matters because Adam Dunn is one of those players who makes the whole lineup around him better (oooh, it hurts to say it). When is off, he takes walks and hits homeruns as well as anyone. When he is on, he is an elite player.
And so far in 2009, he is on.
Consider Ė Adam Dunn is batting cleanup for the Nationals, while Ryan Zimmerman is batting third. After an initial bust-out, Zimmerman has struggled in the majors. Until now Ė he is currently batting .333 with a 151 OPS+. Consider also that Elijah Dukes is hitting fifth in the Nationals order, behind Dunn, and is on pace to better his half-season numbers from a year ago. It doesnít stop there Ė Austin Kearns is being productive for the first time in many years (147 OPS+), Cristian Guzman is hitting .368, and catcher Jesus Flores looks like a hitter for the first time.
Donít get me wrong Ė Adam Dunn isnít necessarily the difference here. It could be ballpark. It could be the maturing of a young team. It could be that the Nationals are finally emerging from 10 years of of being pillaged by Major League Baseball. Maybe the team has just been reinvigorated by the departure of Jim Bowden. Fact is, we donít know.
But this we do know: for the last few years, the Reds have seen some mediocre players (Edwin Encarnacion, Brandon Phillips, Alex Gonzalez of the Marlines, Ken Griffey, Jr.) do some above-mediocre things in Cincinnati, but it isnít happening this year. Take Adam Dunn from one team and put him another, and suddenly his old team canít hit while his new team canít not hit.
So there, a kind word for Adam Dunn. I could bore you with my endless biased analysis of why Adam Dunnís numbers are inflated, and how he isnít actually that great, but the proof of the pudding is in the eating on this one.
Questions? Concerns? Comments? Asher lives in Philadelphia, PA, and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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