Since we never talk about this guy, here’s a link to Prospectus’ in-depth look at the development and outlook of our left fielder. (Subscription, I think).

Highlights after the jump:

  • “Dunn’s precipitous decline in production from August onward—only .176/.307/.346 in his last 188 at-bats—was a significant part of the offensive problem for a Cincinnati team that traded Austin Kearns and Felipe Lopez to the Nationals mere weeks before Dunn’s struggles.”
  • “In all honesty, his 2006 was not all that bad . . . he was getting plenty of extra-base hits as always. He walked in just shy of 15 percent of his plate appearances, and his EqA was .284. It’s sad that Dunn has had awful things written and said about him for performing so “poorly.” He was awful from August on as was previously stated, but two months’ performance shouldn’t detract from the rest of the season, considering that portion matches up with everything else he’s done in the past three years, as well as his minor league numbers.”
  • “Dunn’s real problem is his defense, which has become pretty awful, even for a left fielder. . . .  the designated hitter spot was invented for guys like Dunn, who can be worth 5 or 6 wins with the bat alone.”
  • Author Marc Normandin says that Dunn’s 2006 line was deflated by extremely bad luck on balls put in play.  For 2006, there were .077 points of difference between his actual BABIP and the expected level (which is based on the % of his balls that were line drives).  Add that .077 points, even if they were all singles, and Dunn would’ve hit .311/.442/.567, “which would have been his most productive season so far.” 
  • That doesn’t explain it all – “Dunn’s high flyball rate, combined with a bout of poor luck on line drives, led to his second half problems.”  Some of the drop-off appears to come from greater adoption of the Dunn Shift, with the 2b playing in shallow RF.  A hit chart for 2006 shows a lot of groundouts in that area, and virtually none of the groundball singles to right that Dunn used to get.
  • To address the response to that point: “Dunn has been working on trying to hit the ball to all fields to counter the shift teams are now employing to keep him in check, which caused him to hit quite a few more liners and flyballs to center field than he normally does. . . Dunn should not worry about hitting the ball to all fields if it is going to sap him of his non-homer power to the degree it did in 2006.”  (Interesting, considering the big to-do about his “changed approach” in August.)
  • Summary:  “Dunn is an offensive force… He has his negative points—he is a poor defensive player, doesn’t move quite as well as he used to thanks to the size he’s added over the years, and he can occasionally be a bit too passive at the plate—but those flaws pale in comparison to his positive contributions. This can’t be repeated enough, as there are plenty who still don’t understand his value. Sadly for Dunn, it seems some of those people call the shots where he plays.”