Sunday, September 11, 2011

Adam Dunn: Mechanics, Age or a Little of Both?

I have somehow managed to avoid discussing Adam Dunn this season mostly because I usually like to talk about either positive things or at least somewhat intriguing negative things. Adam Dunn might come close to the latter but my “hunch” all season was that his issues this year have had mostly to do with a combination of bad luck and old age. I assumed early on that he would probably at least right his production enough to be considered a “productive” DH but at this point it is clear that ship has sailed.

Recently I encountered several intriguing pieces on Adam Dunn. The first, was Bradley Woodrum’s article entitled Adam Dunn Should Hit Better – But Not Much Better, which largely confirmed at least part of my first suspicion, that Dunn has been unlucky. Woodrum uses a predictive model entitled ShHAP which uses career BABIP and the players K, BB and HR rates to make predictions of expected player performance. Those of you who have read previous articles of mine know that I have done very similar analysis of other players. Seeing as how Woodrum’s work would likely completely mirror any work I could do on the subject, it suffices to say that I agree with Woodrum’s conclusion. Dunn has been unlucky to an extent but his drop in production has largely resulted from a dramatically increased K rate, lower BB rate, and lower HR rate on fly balls. Even with a luck adjustment Dunn would not be expected to be a serviceable DH.