The Value of Adam Dunn

Steve O Speak

Over the past few weeks we have seen quite a bit about Adam Dunn’s trade value, and how the Nationals shouldn’t expect much in return for Dunn. The belief seems to be that Dunn isn’t a valuable player and I have to disagree completely with this perception of Dunn. People say that Dunn’s defense (which has killed him in the past) is a fluke this season, when in reality I believe there is another reason. Dunn’s UZR numbers favor him, because he is actually playing decent defense, is he a gold glover no, but he is pretty solid at first. And I believe there is a direct cause and effect relationship with why is defense is so vastly improved, and that is for the first time in his career he entered the offseason knowing he’d play first so he worked at it. He was no longer splitting his time between the OF and 1B, and his effort to improve himself has shown greatly. I’m also not sure where this perception that he is a 1-2 win player (according to WAR), his last two years his numbers are down because of how bad his defense was. But in his 9 year career (full seasons) he has posted a WAR 3.1 or over 5 times including this season, and one of the years he missed 45 games. And yes only two of those years are since 2006, but those lower WAR numbers are mainly due to his defense. His bat is usually worth about 4-5 wins, and this year it is even better. And while his best value will be if he can maintain being just a slightly below average 1B, Dunn would have been a 3.1 and a 4.1 win player each of the last two years if he was a DH and took that negative positional value over his defense. For a comparison only 4 DH’s have posted a WAR above 3.0 during the last two years.

I think people have looked solely at his average, WAR and SO’s and assume that Dunn isn’t a good player, when on the contrary any contender should want him. Dunn is one of the best offensive producers in the league, and while his OF defense has buried him in terms of value and perception, he has immense trade value as a 1B or DH.I realize there is also a misnomer that Dunn said he won’t DH, well that was in the sense that he wanted to work extra hard this year to improve himself at 1B (now that he had found a position). Those reports were basically saying that he doesn’t want to give up playing in the field because he loves to play and he doesn’t want to be thought of solely as a DH. If he gets traded to the White Sox or Yankees I don’t think he won’t DH for them, it just means he might not be as likely to resign him in the offseason if that’s how they view him.

Dunn is easily 1st or 2nd on the trade market right now (in terms of bats) depending on whether Fielder is in play (and Dunn would cost a lot less in money and prospects). He might not bring the Nationals back a massive windfall, but he should bring them back two pretty good prospects. Over the next few days I will look into deeper the reasons why the Nationals should look to move Dunn and other players.

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