30 Players in 30 Days: Adam Dunn
While Nationals Park may be empty and the players are back home with their families, Notes from NatsTown is not about to take a break just because the season is over. We’re here to give you your Nationals fix to hold you over until next spring. Is it spring yet? Starting today, we will run 30 Players in 30 Days–except not really 30 days because we will only post them on weekdays.
Possibly the greatest question mark of the Nationals offseason revolves around Adam Dunn’s future. We don’t know what the future holds but we think Yogi Berra was right when he said, “It’s tough to make predictions, especially about the future.” We can look at the past though. So in our first segment of “30 in 30,” we’ll look at what Dunn has meant to Washington baseball for the past two years.
”He’s not a cheerleader but if there is still such a thing as a leader by example in this game, he is it,” General Manager Mike Rizzo said. “He’s a pillar in the clubhouse.”
On the field, Dunn has transformed himself from a defensive liability in the outfield to a sound first baseman, most of the time. According to the Ultimate Zone Rating, he was the worst fielder in the Majors last season with a -37.1 UZR–translation: he cost the Nats 37.1 runs. He improved that to a -3.2 UZR in his first full season as a first baseman, evidence that Dunn still needs to improve but proved he can be a productive first baseman.
While Dunn’s defense may still be in question, what he can do with the bat is certainly not. He is one of the best offensive first basemen in the game. Dunn’s 38 home runs tied for second in the NL and marked the seventh straight season he has hit 35-plus long balls. He’s the only Major Leaguer to do so in every season since 2004. That’s consistency. This is also his fourth straight season collecting 100-plus RBI, but more impressive than hitting the century mark is when he hit those RBI. Dunn tied for third in the NL with 29 go-ahead RBI this season, which include providing the go-ahead runs in both of Stephen Strasburg’s first two Major League starts. Oh, and let’s not forget the go-ahead runs in Luis Atilano’s first two Major League starts too. Oh, and all four were on Dunn homers and resulted in four Curly “W’s”. That’s consistency. Dunn missed just four games the entire season and has played 152-plus games in seven consecutive seasons–only Ichiro Suzuki has played in more games since 2004. That’s also consistency. You get the point.
His teammates have already given him a vote of confidence. “He’s a huge part of our offense. He drives in runs. He hits home runs,” Jordan Zimmermann said. “His defense at first has gotten so much better. He’s an all-around great player.”
Asked how it would feel to lose Dunn, Drew Storen admitted, “It would be tough because he’s such a good guy to have in the clubhouse. Obviously, the numbers, the power in clutch situations, speak for themselves. But I think not having him around in the clubhouse would be the thing I miss the most.”
In his final at-bat at Nationals Park this year, fans gave him a standing ovation while cheering, “Sign Adam Dunn!” The cheers remained even after he struck out for the fourth time that day.
“It’s really good to feel wanted,” Dunn said. “I mean, who doesn’t want that feeling? You really can’t put that kind of thing into words. That’s special.”
So now we just wait and see what happens.