Acting Like Adam Dunn Is Ryan Howard

From the Chicago Sun-Times:

According to a major-league source, Williams spent the last few days trying desperately to pry Adam Dunn from the grasps of the Washington Nationals, offering up “anyone and anything he has in the minor leagues in a package.” And no one is untouchable, including pitcher Daniel Hudson or infielder Dayan Viciedo.” The problem Kenny is finding out is that [Nats GM Mike] Rizzo is acting like Dunn is Ryan Howard,” the source said.

I suppose that on the surface, this comparison might seem kind of ridiculous. Adam Dunn wasn’t even offered arbitration upon leaving the Diamondbacks and is in the final season of a two-year, $20 million contract. Ryan Howard, on the other hand, has an MVP award and has three more top-five MVP finishes. He has parlayed that into a five-year, 125 million dollar extension, on top of his most recent arbitration award of $19 million. One would certainly think that this kind of disparity in contracts, as well as the reputations that have led to them, would be reflected in the numbers.

On the contrary, however, the numbers support Rizzo’s comparison, particularly in terms of hitting. Given that the White Sox would play Dunn at DH, this would be the primary concern of Kenny Williams. Here’s how Adam Dunn’s career compares to Ryan Howard’s, without park adjustments.

Particularly notable is the stretch from 2007-2010 – the significant stretch for predicting a player’s future, as when you start getting more than four years out, those stats are hardly predictive of what a player can do now. And you’ll notice, that even without park adjustments, that Adam Dunn has been just as good or better than Ryan Howard for four years. The parks aren’t much of a factor for the years that Dunn was with the Reds (LHB HR park factor of 123) or the Diamondbacks (118), but Nationals Park (95) is much harder for lefties to homer than Citizens Bank Park (116). Dunn has a wRC+ advantage this year of 152 to 134, a pretty significant difference – although it is worth noting that it is easier to hit doubles at Nationals Park than it is at Citizens Bank Park, which mitigates much of the difference in parks.

ZiPS projects Dunn and Howard for .400 and .399 wOBAs respectively. Dunn is 10 days older than Ryan Howard. Basically, the only difference in these players is that Dunn is a worse fielder. Yes, Howard is slightly more valuable, but Rizzo isn’t too far off base in this comparison.

However, where Rizzo is completely off base is in his expectation that the return for Dunn should be that of a superstar. The simple fact is that neither Dunn nor Howard are superstars – their positions in particular and their defensive issues (an average defensive 1B has a net defensive value, including position, of -12.5 runs per 150 games, over a win) make them above-average players but well below the elite of the league. Given that Dunn will be a rental, Rizzo is going to have to severely tone down his expectations if he wants to move the slugger before the deadline. Maybe, if Rizzo values Dunn so highly, the Nationals should just give Dunn the four-year, $60 million contract he’s seeking.

Park factors from StatCorner

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Breadbaker
Member
Breadbaker

I must admit when I read the headline, I thought you were writing in Yoda speak.

Lance W
Member

You’re not alone. I thought the exact same thing.

philosofool
Member
Member
philosofool

This is the comment I came to leave. I think the proper way to do this in Yoda speak is “Acting like Adam Dunn, is Ryan Howard”, for what it’s worth.

Kev
Guest
Kev

It would be, “Acting like Adam Dunn, Ryan Howard is” if yoda said it.