W.A.G. the dog: Dunn goes to W.A.R.

Let's take a bit of a break from the recent, er, unpleasantness by taking a wild-a** guess (WAG) at how the addition of Adam Dunn will change the answers in our ongoing attempt to forecast the Nats' 2009 Wins Above Replacement (WAR).  Speculation about new lineups and the shocking new win total after the jump!

(Previously in the Federal Baseball W.A.R. effort:

Small W.A.R.s: Baserunning and Fielding (with bonus pitching update)

W.A.R. and Remembrance: the 2008 Nats

Pitching for W.A.R.

W.A.R. plans: playing time

The March of W.A.R.: batting

Federal Baseball goes to W.A.R.

plus, some delicious words for me to eat: The Inevitable Density of Adam Dunn.)

What to do with a Big Ol' Dunn-K?

Where do we put Adam Dunn? Despite Ladson's initial claim that Big Willkie was going to be playing 1B, it seems that Manny is looking forward to having both Dunn and NJ in his lineup, which means LF (which I understand to be Dunn's preference, too). The Nationals' OF is terribly crowded, and throwing a new LF in there hardly clears things up. However, by trying to put together a new lineup, I can all but guarantee that someone I put there will be traded the next day, forcing another do-over.  Let's start speculating!

For all we tease him about his strikeouts, Dunn has been a sturdy, consistent player.  I think he's all but guaranteed to play a full season wherever he ends up in the field.  This is the easy part: we put Dunn in LF for 590 PA.  I've been using CHONE for batting and fielding, and it projects Dunn hitting 234/371/475 with 33 HR and 87 RBI.  (Note that this is a substantial drop from his career average 247/381/518 and last season's 236/386/513... what does CHONE know that we don't?  Marcels has Dunn at 246/374/497 with 32 HR and 86 RBI.) In a corner outfield spot, he costs us 13 runs defensively.  Now... what do we do with everyone else?

Ripple Effects...

Okay, the first answer is, "we trade an outfielder."  Which one?  Milledge, Harris, and Dukes all look fairly indispensible, while Kearns and Willingham are fairly untradeable (coming off of injury seasons). So, who falls off the roster to make room for Dunn?  My early guess: Dmitri Young.

In the last WAR lineup, Willingham and Harris split LF.  Now, Dunn and Harris will split LF, while Willingham backs up NJ at first and picks up DaMeathook's pinch-hitting duties.  I'm also going to bow to the will of majority and pencil in Milledge as starting CF instead of Dukes--I still think Dukes is the better choice, but I see which way the winds are blowing.  I'm still going to give Dukes some time in CF, along with TAWH (we know how Manny loves him some late-inning defensive replacements).  RF will be an even split between Dukes and AK.  No other changes to the infield at this point.  For those of you too click-averse to check out the spreadsheet, here's what the lineup looks like:

 

1). Sign Dunn 2). ??? 3). Profit!

So, what does Big Willkie bring us?  As I discussed in my last post about Dunn, putting him at LF brings the largest dividend.  Compared to my last pre-Big-Willkie projection, the Dunn Shuffle adds 1.2 wins from hitting, loses 0.5 wins from fielding, and ends up with 77.6 wins expected for 2009.  For those of you scoring along at home, we beat 70 wins 83% of the time, and make 0.500 or better 27% of the time.  Does this seem too optimistic?  How would you change the lineup to be more reasonable?  Leave a comment, please!

Your Mileage May Vary

Note that I haven't changed the rotation or bullpen since the last update, because I think Odalis is being a big poopy-head. He's on a time-out from the worksheet until he thinks about what he's done and apologizes.

On another front, I admit that I've been wondering how valid these calculations are.  It sorts of assumes you play a league-average team on average, and the Nats have to play practically every other game against either the hated Mets or the hated Fillies.  Of course, we get to beat on the Braves or the Marlins the other half of the time, so maybe it evens out.  Out of curiosity, I took a look at some of the other teams in the Community WAR Spreadsheet to see how their season projections were shaping up. A lot of teams had missing, incomplete, or downright goofy information, so these are the expected wins for teams which had at least the right number of PA and IP.

NL East: Mets, 94.5; Fillies, 91.4; Nats, 77.6

NL Central: Brewers, 82.7; Cards, 89.1

NL West: Rockies, 85.2; Giants, 79.9

AL East: Blue Jays, 91.5

AL Central: Royals, 77.5; Twins, 86.3

AL West: none...

How do those numbers look to y'all?  I admit I was hoping to see projections from our cellar-mates the Padres and Mariners--it was disappointing to see how few teams had someone who'd filled in the spreadsheet completely (really, only Toronto in the AL East has any stat-heads?).  Personally, I'm wondering if the baseline number of wins for a replacement-level team is maybe a game or three too high.  Last season we had six teams winning 90+ games, and so far the WAR projections have three 90+ winners out of only 10 teams (while missing both Chicago teams, the Angels, Yanks, Red Sox and Rays).  Still, I remain cautiously optimistic.  I think we can safely call 2008 rock-bottom, and we might be looking forward to the Nationals' second-best season ever.

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