Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Adam Dunn and Looking Past Batting Average

I heard a rumor the other day that the Reds were looking to dump one of their extra outfielders. I mentioned to a friend that the Royals should try to pick Adam Dunn up, but was told that he "strikes out too much."

Since it's the All-Star Break and I've got some time on my hands, I thought I'd try to win this argument with my friend in a forum that allowed him no chance to respond (God, I love the internet).

Plus, it allows me to discuss a core principal of the stat-head movement -- looking beyond batting average.

Name       Age  HR  AVG  OBP  SLG
Adam Dunn 25 23 239 384 550
(as of All-Star Break)
Now, one could look at Mr. Dunn's record-setting strikeout season last year and his lowly batting average of .239 and feel perfectly comfortable writing him off as a player with the same whiff-tastic tendencies of our own Angel Berroa.


We could take a look at those other two numbers... OBP and SLG.

OBP = On Base Percentage

Somehow, Batting Average become the stat that everybody used to judge whether or not a baseball player could hit. Phrases like "he's not paid to walk" came into vogue and only scrappy little guys were allowed to get on base via the hit-by-pitch.

Of course, grounding out weakly to the second basemen doesn't do much more than get you out. Men on base or no, you now have one less out than you started the game with, and once you've used all 27, they make you go home.

So, let's pretend we don't see Adam Dunn's .239 batting average. Instead, let's look at how often he gets on base, currently at a .384 clip.

That would put him in first place on the current Royals team.

To repeat, Adam Dunn gets on base a higher percentage of the time than any other Royals player.

Fine, you say. Maybe he gets some walks when he's not swinging the bat, but he still misses an awful lot of pitches when he gets the wood off his shoulder. That's true, but when he doesn't miss the ball, he hits it really, really hard.

SLG = Slugging Average

Player A is 1 for 1 with a single.
Player B is 1 for 1 with a home run.

Player A is slugging 1.000.
Player B is slugging 4.000.


Adam Dunn's slugging average of .550 would put him in first place on the Royals.

That means Dunn gets on base more often and hits for more power than anybody on our current roster. He's also only 25 years old.

Now, I don't think the Reds are really dumb enough to trade him, but if Dan O'Brien dials Allard's phone, he'd better take the call.

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