First, the usual slugging statistics for HRs, RBIs, extra base hits, slugging pcts., etc. for Dunn are impressive, especially considering the year-to-year consistency. But, the team record since his arrival is atrocious. Certainly, that does not mean he is the cause. And the Nats record could be even worse without him. It does suggest the team should be looking for ways to get to a .500 winning pct. quickly, before its fan base erodes and potential free agents keep ignoring us. Without any statistics to back up my impressions of Dunn’s value I submit his value to contributing to winning is less than most fans think. The persistent failure to advance runners and scoop errant infielder throws bothers me the most. And I just do not view him as good ‘clutch hitter’, given his cleanup hitter status. Again I have no statistics to back this up, so I am requesting others to dig up some statistics on RBIs versus RBI chances, production with RISP, advancing runners, etc. to enlighten all of us, so we can truly compare his value to others in the league. I am admitting laziness about this.
As I wrote in a recent Fanpost ("It is time to be impatient") and follow-up comments, I noted that regardless of how much we value and like Dunn, Willingham, and a few others of note, it cannot be said too often that the Nats are a bad team at present WITH these guys, they have good pitching in the pipeline (to go with Stras., Levan, and Storen), and have a poor defense. So let’s connect the dots:
Currently we are losing, so how do we improve the quickest? Build and leverage our strength first (i.e., help your pitching improve by adding defense first). How do we do that? By trading some of the guys with value (such as Dunn) to plug defensive holes as a first priority (i.e., accept in exchange guys who can field, think, and run a bit even though they may only hit .230 to .260 and hit 10 to 15 HRs). Dunn may fetch two guys with these attributes. Note that the Nats have defensive deficiencies at 1B, 2B, SS, one OF pos., and backup catcher, so multiple plugging is needed.
I sense by some of the comments received earlier about my major thesis to build a strong pitching-strong defense team that perhaps preferences for a more offensive oriented team, maintaining the Zim.—Dunn—Willingham combination batting 3-4-5, and keeping one of best sluggers of this era takes priority over improving the team winning percentage. I doubt I will get any admission on this but I cannot otherwise account for the persistence to keep the status quo and expect winning to come anytime soon. There are just not enough quality non-pitchers close to ready on the farm and the expectation of signing useful free agents in the off-season flies in the face of experience.
To finish, again, someone please make the case beyond the usual slugging stats. that Dunn should be signed at great cost and that in his absence there would be much overall fall off in contribution to winning if Morse was playing 1B and we had two defensive holes plugged instead.