Washington Nationals: Can Adam Dunn Get It, Uh, Done At First?

There's been a lot of talk in these pages about Adam Dunn playing first all season in 2010, with me wondering whether or not he'll be exposed as a DH-worthy defensive liability while Dunn backers (I'm a fan, but not of his defense), argue that his performance at the end of the '09 season, once Nick Johnson had been dealt away to Florida, is proof enough that the 6'6", 275 lb 30-year-old power-hitter is capable of doing the job on the Nats' defensively-challenged roster...Dunn has started exactly 162 games at first over his 9-year MLB career according to Baseball-Reference.com's Standard Fielding stats, with 23 E's and a .985 fld%. Fangraphs.com has Dunn at a (-17.0 UZR/150) over his career at first, (-25.0 UZR/150) last season. (Quick UZR/150 Definition from Fangraphs.com: "The number of runs above or below average a fielder is, per 150 defensive games.") What do the Nationals think? According to SI.com's Jon Heyman, the Washington Nationals' discussions with Dunn about a contract extension are on hold until they see what the big Texan is able to do defensively at first. In Mr. Heyman's own words:

"...with the DH unavailable to him in the National League, Nats people say they think he's better at first than in the outfield, and they have told Dunn that he needs to turn himself into a serviceable first baseman before they make him an offer befitting a 40-homer man. So he's working hard at it."

LINK: Previously On Federal Baseball: This Morning's Dunn Argument.

BACKPAGE:

• More On Dunn.

BACKPAGE: 

• More On Dunn.

In a late-January article entitled, "A Dunn extension and a man of letters",  before Spring Training started, MASNSports.com's Phil Wood talked to "someone who's pretty close to [Dunn]", who told him that Dunn:

"...doesn't want to DH in the American League. He wants to play the field, and believes his first base defense has reached the adequate level. He knows he's no Gold Glover, but believes that he'll get better..."

According to Dunn himself, as quoted in a late February article by MLB.com's Bill Ladson entitled, "Dunn trying to take next step at first base", it took a little while for him to get used to being moved out of left field last season. As he explained to Mr. Ladson, it, "...took about three weeks to feel normal at first base," Dunn says, and he's aware that he won't be he promises he won't be that bad:

"I'm not going to sit there and say I'm going to be the best ever, but I'm not going to be the worst." 

Should DC GM Mike Rizzo extend Adam Dunn? Already this Spring, though most of the games are on the radio and we have to rely on the announcer's description, there have been some miscues at first, where bunts were fielded with no one at the base to accept a throw, and just the other night, there was a slow bouncer that Dunn flat missed, prompting the opposing team's announcers to comment that (to paraphrase) "Just about any other first baseman would have had that?" Can Dunn get it, uh, done on a full-time basis at first? Or is he headed out in a trade or as a free agent when this season is over?

• Bring your stats! Your fanboy love of HR hitters? Complain about his K's to make everyone angry! (That's my thing!) Is Adam Dunn going to be the Nationals' first baseman next season, or should fans try to appreciate him all they can while they can?

NOTE: Tonight's 3/25 game against the Tigers doesn't seem to be available anywhere on radio or TV, so you're on your own, I'll put up a note about the Lineups before the game, but there's no way to follow apparently...

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