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Washington Nationals: Pitchers are Afraid of Adam Dunn

Through 12 games this season, Washington Nationals first baseman Adam Dunn has walked in an astonishing 30% of his plate appearances (11BB/37PA). In this same time period, the MLB walk rate is 9% (1298BB/14399PA). It made me wonder - is Adam Dunn's eye so good that he is not swinging at marginal pitches, or are pitchers just not throwing anything for him to hit. I pulled the PitchFX data for answers.

First, let's look at all pitches thrown so far this season. We don't really care what the pitch result is, we just want to see if the pitch was thrown in the strike zone or not. Through the Sunday night game on April 18th, there have been 55,645 pitches thrown, 24,754 thrown in the strike zone (44.49%). Through the Sunday Brewers game, Adam Dunn has seen 194 pitches, 68 of them in the strike zone (35.05%).

Using the PitchFX data, we can break down the pitches by pitch type. Adam Dunn's 194 pitches break down as follows:

  • 107 Fastballs
  • 28 Sliders
  • 21 Change Ups
  • 19 Cutters
  • 15 Curve Balls
  • 4 Intentional Balls

Here are the locations of the fastballs. Remember when looking at PitchFX data, the view is from behind the plate. In these charts, left handed batter Dunn would be standing on the right hand side. The red box is Adam Dunn's strike zone as defined by PitchFX.

Dunnofffastballs_medium

Only 45 of the 107 fastballs are in the zone.

Here are the locations of the other pitches:

Dunnoffspeedpitches_medium

Only 23 of these pitches are in the zone.

As you can see in these charts, pitchers are not nibbling at the plate against Dunn. Many of these pitches are in the right handed batters box, or ankle high. To this point in the season, the clear strategy has been to try to get Dunn frustrated and chase pitches way out of the zone. It's obvious that teams would rather have him walk than give him the opportunity for a big hit. It's definitely something we will keep an eye on as the season progresses.