I'm not sure if this was ever posted here or not. The article came out in January, so it's been about a month and a half. Anyways, I found it to be interesting and thought it was worth the thread.
Is Dunn Better Than Gwynn?
Adam's Slugging is More Valuable Than Tony's Singles
© Harold Friend
Jan 26, 2008
Adam Dunn is one of baseball's most underrated players, especially by those who refuse to acknowledge modern statistical measurements.
Adam Dunn is one of baseball’s most underrated players, especially by those who refuse to acknowledge modern statistical advancements that have uncovered information not available in the past. Dunn has a .900 OPS compared the league’s .779 OPS. His OPS+ is 130. OPS is defined as on base percentage + slugging, while the league’s OPS is on base + slugging with the pitcher removed and in the same home field as the player. It is a rough guide to a player’s ability to get on base and drive in runs. OPS+ is OPS measured against the league average, and adjusted for ballpark factors. An OPS+ over 100 is better than average while less than 100 is below average.
A Strikeout Is Just An Out
Adam Dunn has been criticized by some for striking out too much. He has averaged 182 strikeouts a season with a career high of 195 in 2004, but when a hitter leads off an inning, a strikeout is just another out. When a hitter makes the third out of an inning, a strikeout is just another out. In almost every instance with a runner or runners on base and less than two outs, a strikeout is preferable to a ground ball because the strikeout will usually avoid the double play. Forget that some ground balls may get through for hits or be hit slowly enough for the batter to beat it out for a hit.
Dunn's Better Numbers
Comparing Adam Dunn to Hall of Fame outfielder Tony Gwynn illustrates Dunn’s greatness. Tony has 3,141 hits and a .338 lifetime average, compared to Dunn’s .248 average, but Tony has an .847 OPS compared to Adam’s .900. Tony has a 132 OPS+ compared to Adam’s 130 – virtually identical and not statistically significant. Tony’s 90 point edge in batting average is more than made up by Adam’s advantage in OPS because runs win games. Batting average is a highly overrated statistic because it merely indicates the chances of a hit when the batter swings. It does not measure avoiding the chances of making an out during an entire at bat (take a walk, hit by pitch)
More Power Than Gwynn
Dunn averages 95 RBIs a season compared to Gwynn’s 76. Dunn’s career high in home runs is 46, he has hit at least 40 home runs the last four seasons, and averages 40 home runs over a 162 game season. Seventeen is Gwynn’s career high in home runs, and he averaged a mere 9 home runs over a 162 game season.
When it comes to slugging, there is no comparison. Dunn’s slugging average is .519 while the league has a .436 slugging average. Gywnn’s slugging average of .459 is 50 points LOWER than Dunn’s, and is only somewhat greater than the league’s .399. It is recognized that OPS takes slugging into account, but raw data can be revealing, and that is the case in with Dunn and Gwynn.
More Valuable Than Tony
Those who claim Gwynn is vastly more valuable than Dunn point out that Tony averaged only 29 strikeouts a season, but that merely brings us back to the fact that a strikeout is just another out. Tony walked about 52 times a season while Dunn averaged 112 walks. Pitchers don’t like to give up hits, but they do not fear singles. They fear what Dunn hit – home runs, and they are very careful when facing Adam Dunn. The fact that Gwynn stole 21 bases a season compared to Dunn’s 9 is a negative for Gwynn because it is counterproductive to risk giving up outs by trying to steal bases.
Hall of Fame?
Tony Gwynn was a fine player, but the day when his type of player was considered among the most valuable in baseball have passed. Not striking out, stealing bases, hitting singles, and having a high batting average are overrated. The greatness and value of the Adam Dunn type of player is finally being recognized, thanks to the statistical evaluation of baseball players. Five years after he retires, the Hall of Fame will call Adam Dunn.