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Slumping slugger, slumping lineup

Aug 26, 2010, 3:51 AM EDT


Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
Adam Dunn is caught looking at strike three for the third time in the game.

Three days ago, Adam Dunn — mired in a 16-day, 6-for-49 slump — spoke confidently about his chances of getting back on track.

"I know I'll come out of it," he said that afternoon in Philadelphia. "That's the only thing I know for sure."

Three days later, the only thing that's changed is the length and breadth of Dunn's slump. After an 0-for-4, three-strikeout showing tonight in the Nationals' 4-0 loss to the Cubs, the big guy now has seven hits and 28 strikeouts in his last 58 at-bats. He's produced one RBI since August 7 (on a solo homer) and has seen his batting average plummet from .280 to .259.

All of a sudden, that career year is morphing into something more recognizable. And the man who will suffer most for it is Dunn himself, whose next contract is probably shrinking in total value every time he trudges from the plate to the dugout upon striking out.

Should the Nationals be concerned? Maybe. Though Dunn has always been the kind of slugger who goes through a couple of prolonged slumps every year, this one might be different. Despite his upbeat tone over the weekend, Dunn is starting to show signs of frustration.

After one particularly ragged round of batting practice this afternoon, Dunn heaved his bat nearly to third base. Stan Kasten, watching from about 75 feet away, immediately walked up to his cleanup hitter andRead more »

  1. David Lint - Aug 26, 2010 at 3:59 AM

    Contracts aren't measured on a month's worth of at-bats.There's a reason baseball is 162 games, not 30.Not sure why you would think otherwise, Mark.

  2. Sunshine_Bobby_Carpenter_Is_Too_Pessimistic_For_Me - Aug 26, 2010 at 4:13 AM

    Poor Dunn. Maybe it's subliminal. Like he's striking out so much to lower his numbers so that maybe Uncle Teddy can afford to write the check to keep him. Hey, StanK, did you ever stop to figure out that you diddling around on this contract is affecting Dunn's concentration and productiveness, to the detriment of the team?No, I didn't think you had.

  3. Sam - Aug 26, 2010 at 5:03 AM

    Meanwhile, Daniel Hudson has posted a 3.13 FIP in August, and with the help of a .246 BABIP and 94.9 LOB%, a 1.72 ERA. But no, I'd rather have the 30-year old above average first baseman who is a free agent after the year than the 23-year old pitcher (who has dominated the National League) under team control for 6 years.

  4. Nattydread - Aug 26, 2010 at 7:59 AM

    Silver linings people.Marquis' return to form is crucial. Strasburg, Znn, Marquis and Lannan make 4 arms in a formidable starting rotation. If there is any plus in the dog days, its that we are FINALLY sorting out the starting pitcher line-up. Dunn is Dunn: streaking, striking out, streaking again — and hopefully not done with the Nats. Catcher problems are coming to end. Add two good bats at RF and 2B through off-season trades and signings — and you have a much improved team.

  5. Anonymous - Aug 26, 2010 at 10:52 AM

    Is there any concern that Dunn's slump could affect his Type A status?

  6. NatsJack in Florida - Aug 26, 2010 at 11:36 AM

    During his "hot" streaks, we are a .500 club at best and during his prolonged slumps we are abysmal!

  7. Anonymous - Aug 26, 2010 at 12:06 PM

    Stan Kasten, watching from about 75 feet away, immediately walked up to his cleanup hitter and said a few words.Which were "Hey Adam, I hear there may be an opening coming up in the MASN booth."

  8. JayB - Aug 26, 2010 at 12:09 PM

    Newark Bears: OF Elijah Dukes placed on suspended list from http://www.atlanticleague.com/scores-transactions.phpNow there is a surprise…….Morgan too…..My guess is Rizzo has made his decision just like he did last year on Dukes….Hope Rizzo has learned his lesson this year and makes the move Oct 1 not March 1.

  9. Anonymous - Aug 26, 2010 at 12:21 PM

    JayB said… "Newark Bears: OF Elijah Dukes placed on suspended list from http://www.atlanticleague.com/scores-transactions.php"Hating white people is not the key to success in professional baseball.

  10. bdrube - Aug 26, 2010 at 12:26 PM

    Hope for their sake that the Cubs were paying attention given the recent rumors of their interest in Dunn. If they want to overpay him the way they overpaid Soriano, the Nats should not just walk but run away.

  11. raymitten - Aug 26, 2010 at 12:39 PM

    I think that Dunn's slump illustrates his overall value and the need to sign him long term. With Dunn's usual production out of this lineup, the effectiveness of this lineup struggles, big time. Does anyone really think that the Nats will be willing to pay for anyone with more production than 31 HR and 70-some RBIs in August? Dunn will come out of his slump. But the question is, will the Nats be smart enough to keep him around to reap the benefits? The Daniel Hudson comments made me laugh. An upstart mid-level prospect pitcher has a few good games after switching leagues and you're upset that the Nats didn't trade a guy who hits 40 HR a year for him? Really?

  12. natsfan1a - Aug 26, 2010 at 1:00 PM

    I was very happy for Marquis last night. Good for him, and good on the fans who gave him the ovation. Was at the P-Nats game last Friday and didn't see his start that night, but after hearing about it I hoped he'd be able to build on it.Also, the W-L stat alone as an indicator of a pitcher's effectiveness is soooo bogus. That is all.

  13. Anonymous - Aug 26, 2010 at 1:01 PM

    Dunn not having Wllingham to protect him is allowing pitchers to exploit his weaknesses and resulting in this slump. I do not see Rizzo re-signing Dunn at this stage, I think Pena will be making the move from Tampa to DC for a two year deal. This shows that we need another power bat in the lineup as Morse and Bernadina are not #5 hitters. Please Mike, go out and sign a power-htting with good defensive skills who is intelligent in the offseason.

  14. slopitchtom - Aug 26, 2010 at 1:12 PM

    MLB really needs to look at the rules for awarding wins and losses to pitchers to allow for some scorer's discretion. It's ridiculous for Marquis to get tagged for the loss when he leaves after 71/3 with no runs allowed and then Clippard comes in and allows 3 runs to score in less than an inning. I know the rules have been that way forever, but it really makes no sense.

  15. Anonymous - Aug 26, 2010 at 1:26 PM

    Pena? Really? The guy in a four-year slump currently hitting just above the Mendoza line? That Pena? Yeah, that will be a huge upgrade. I don't think Morse is the answer for any of the Nats' questions, but he would probably outperform Pena.

  16. Anonymous - Aug 26, 2010 at 1:28 PM

    You've got to love people who think paying a mediocre player as if he was an elite player would, in fact, make the mediocre player an elite player. Dunn is what he is. His numbers are in line with his career stats. It's called cause-and-effect, not effect-and-cause.Sign him for four years and he will continue to be a mid-200s slugger prone to striking out who is also a below average fielder and base clogger due to his lack of athleticism. When you lose 200 games over two seasons, maybe you should try to get better players, not hang on to the same ones that you lost 200 games with.

  17. Pete - Aug 26, 2010 at 1:29 PM

    Another lost year. When does hockey season start?

  18. Anonymous - Aug 26, 2010 at 1:34 PM

    This franchise is falling apart like a cheap suit. Next season, the season ticket base will be under 10,000. I am not renewing because I can't stand to watch this pathetic team any longer. Trust me, they will be worse next year.

  19. Kevin Rusch, Section406 - Aug 26, 2010 at 1:41 PM

    "I am not renewing because I can't stand to watch this pathetic team any longer. Trust me, they will be worse next year. "I said that two years ago, and I'm glad I didn't renew. I just don't enjoy the ballpark.However, I really don't think they'll be worse next year. There's just too much talent in the pipeline.

  20. John Doe - Aug 26, 2010 at 1:49 PM

    You've got a strong track record, Anonymous, so I'll trust you on this one.

  21. JayB - Aug 26, 2010 at 1:49 PM

    The Season Ticket base is already under 10K. My group will be down to just me next year….after starting with 6 Full Season Tickets between 10 of us.Team will average 100 loses over the 2008-2010. They will be over 90 loses next year if Riggs is back for a full year.

  22. Anonymous8 - Aug 26, 2010 at 1:55 PM

    JayB – Come on, one day at a time. I own several season tickets and while I lost 1 person in my group I replaced him quickly.I would agree the STH base is near 9,000 but they have increased their partial season packages.All in all, StanK is getting the attendence that he deserves, isn't that his old saying?When the team is winning, the bandwagon fans will pour in, just like the Capitals and Redskins.

  23. natsfan1a - Aug 26, 2010 at 1:56 PM

    LOL, post of the day? And nice to meet you, John Doe. :-)—John Doe said… You've got a strong track record, Anonymous, so I'll trust you on this one.

  24. JayB - Aug 26, 2010 at 2:01 PM

    OH I agree on when the team is winning….but that is the KEY POINT….I don't see that anytime soon. Not with Riggs and Not with a $60 Million Payroll. This Team is still in complete denial about what it takes to win a baseball game. They hope that JMax will hit, they hope the Defense will improve….that is a loser approach.I can not give a way tickets unless it is Phills or teams like that…..I like to go to as many games as possible so I never cared much about sharing a seat…..I will be fine just by myself.

  25. Anonymous - Aug 26, 2010 at 2:28 PM

    raymitten, 'Dan Hudson an upstart mid level prospect?' based on what? I prefer to look at him as a 23 no. 3 starter under team control for 6 years; then you take the 13 – 15 million and find next year's Aubrey Huff + a solid outfielder and still have enough money left over to pick several over slot draft choices. It's not about Dunn being bad; his overall value is known (3.3 WAR); it's about the best overall bang for the buck. In this case replacing an expiring contract with 6 years of a competent major league player was a no brainer. I think that Rizzo didn't make the deal because he was afraid of the reaction of the misinformed majority. Incidentally; taking the draft choices is still the better plan of action compared to a long term deal for Dunn; IMHO. BTW; Pena's power numbers are right there with Dunn: (41,36,39 HR's 2007 – 2009) and 24 so far this year; better defensively but older and also expensive (I wouldn't go there).

  26. Jeeves - Aug 26, 2010 at 2:29 PM

    As the main blogger on this site who wished the Nats had traded Dunn for Dan Hudson, I suppose I will waste my time by reacting to ray mittens arrogant comment-"made me laugh". Pitching and good defense win baseball game. See San Diego. There was a reason so many teams passed on Dunn and the Nats were able to get him at a reduced rate. To get a potentially solid pitcher like Hudson seemed like a good idea to me. It still does, except now it's too late.

  27. Anonymous - Aug 26, 2010 at 2:33 PM

    "JayB said… The Season Ticket base is already under 10K. My group will be down to just me next year….after starting with 6 Full Season Tickets between 10 of us."Maybe that has more to do with the guy they have to sit next to than the state of the team. Just sayin.

  28. Anonymous - Aug 26, 2010 at 2:49 PM

    Jeeves, There are a number of posters here who fervently believe that the only way for the Nats to compete is to have a payroll of $100 million and nothing you or I can say will change their view; I contend that you can spend 130 mil and be the Cubs. I prefer the Tampa Rays method which focuses not just on spending but on spending smart. At the end of the year the Rays will let Carl Crawford walk (to sign with the Yankees for a zillion dollars) and replace him with Desmond Jennings; not because Jennings is better than Crawford but because he can fill the role competently and they can use the savings to plug several other holes. This is a team which has been in contention for a world series title for the past 3 years and counting; so maybe they know what they are doing a little.

  29. Anonymous - Aug 26, 2010 at 2:57 PM

    Here is the deal with Dunn. After you sign him, you can deal him for someone else next year. He remains an asset the Nats control and can use to their advantage. July 31 will be back next year; there wil always be another Hudson. Let Dunn walk and you get draft choices in exchange for a proven player. Unless you believe prospects are automatically and always a better value than proven players, controlling and managing current assets is a careful way of going forward. Pay Dunn now and make someone overpay for him next July. And tell me how great Hudson after the NL gets a book on him. Time is the great evaluator.

  30. Anonymous - Aug 26, 2010 at 3:09 PM

    Natsfan1a: LOL, post of the day? And nice to meet you, John Doe. :-) John Doe said…You've got a strong track record, Anonymous, so I'll trust you on this one.Also, the W-L stat alone as an indicator of a pitcher's effectiveness is soooo bogus. That is all.IMHO I think we should add Natsfan1a to that list and definitely inthe running for post-of-the-day? See below:Also, the W-L stat alone as an indicator of a pitcher's effectiveness is soooo bogus. That is all.But Aaron Thompson now 3-13 thanks you natsfan1a.

  31. Feel Wood - Aug 26, 2010 at 3:11 PM

    "Here is the deal with Dunn. After you sign him, you can deal him for someone else next year. He remains an asset the Nats control and can use to their advantage. July 31 will be back next year; there wil always be another Hudson."Here is the deal with trade deadline deals. They usually don't involve players with two or three more years left on their big money contracts, but rather players who will be FAs at the end of the season. Hence the term "rent a player." So if the Nats sign Dunn, he really won't be a tradeable asset for several more years, depending on the length of contract they give him.

  32. JayB - Aug 26, 2010 at 3:12 PM

    Or it could have everything to do with year after year of self inflicted 100 loss seasons….and that is likely because I am still friends and neighbors with most all the people in that group and we still talk baseball most all the time….they just think Nats are a waste of money at this point while my love of live baseball still out weighs the stench of bad Nats baseball.

  33. Anonymous - Aug 26, 2010 at 3:55 PM

    JayB, I have read your posts and I know that you are not a happy Nats fan; but other than 'fire Riggleman' (and who would you hire instead?) I'm not exactly sure what your proposed approach is. I know what you don't like; tell me in as much specifics as you can muster what you would have the organization do.

  34. phil dunn - Aug 26, 2010 at 4:04 PM

    Fire Riggleman now, don't wait until the end of the season. Give the job to Tim Foli, who has some fire in his belly. These guys need a boot in the ass, not a mealy mouthed manager who keeps telling them how great they are. They suck and they should be embarrassed by the way they rip off fans every night. I have two 20-game plans and they won't be renewed. Going to the ball park is just too painful. In fact, I have a hard time finding takers when I try to give the tickets away. That speaks volumes.

  35. Anonymous - Aug 26, 2010 at 4:06 PM

    We need Dibs as the manager–he would kick some ass.

  36. Anonymous - Aug 26, 2010 at 4:10 PM

    Phil Dunn, They are not firing Riggleman now. I don't like his management style but I know better than to think that this is what will make a substantial difference. I do like your idea of Tim Foli though; an old favorite of mine from his Expos days; he was a real nut in his playing days; was so upset at himself one day he decided to spend the night at his short stop position rather than go home; true story.

  37. Anonymous - Aug 26, 2010 at 4:22 PM

    For all of you who think having a manager who will kick the Nats around is a good idea, I offer you this name: Walter Alston. Next in line: Joe Torre. And there are others. But of course, those guys had good players. It would be nice if Riggleman had that same luxury.

  38. The Great Unwashed - Aug 26, 2010 at 4:50 PM

    Snarky, but I like it, John Doe.

  39. natsfan1a - Aug 26, 2010 at 5:06 PM

    I'm not sure what your point was, peric, but thanks for the nomination. If nominated, I will not run. If elected, I will not serve. ;-)

  40. Anonymous - Aug 26, 2010 at 5:14 PM

    Still think that even without Dunn the Nats are well covered at first base with Josh Willingham, who given his age, the knee, the back, the fact he was a catcher throughout his minor league career is ready for that spot.His offensive numbers seem productive enough to hold it. And Mike Rizzo prefers athletic, good fielding, good hitting power guys in the outfield. I don't see Pena when you still have Willingham and Dunn is still here. I see BJ Upton before Pena. Surprised they didn't pick up Cody Ross off the waiver wire?

  41. Anonymous - Aug 26, 2010 at 5:34 PM

    Why not put Desmond into the 2 slot and Zim in the 4 for a few days, with Dunn between them? Good chance that Dunn will continue to come up with someone on base and there'll be a strong hitter behind him for protection. If he doesn't produce, well – they're losing anyway.

  42. Sam - Aug 26, 2010 at 6:31 PM

    raymitten: Uh, yes, especially since Hudson was never a mid-level prospect. Every scouting report I have read said he could be a number 2 starter, and his stats back that up (minor league, that is).Considering how overblown the idea of 40 HRs is, yes, I would love to have Hudson. 40 HRs is great production, but when it is teamed with poor defense, it isn't as valuable. For whatever reason, people only want to focus on Dunn's HR and RBI totals. RBIs mean nothing, so I'm not sure why anyone would cite them anyway.I never thought keeping Dunn or signing him was a good idea anyway. This team won't compete for at least a few more years anyway, so wasting resources on a couple of marginal wins is a poor strategy. Stockpiling young, talented pitchers with many years of team control who can be traded to fill holes or used as part of the team is not a bad strategy. Where do you disagree?

  43. Sam - Aug 26, 2010 at 6:36 PM

    And can everyone stop with this "protection" crap? It doesn't exist! If it did, then we would expect that any time a good hitter was taken away from a lineup, the player immediately in front of him would suffer a large loss in production. If someone can find a meaningful sample in which this occurred a large amount of the time, there might be some validity. Until then, stop spewing out crap about "protection" without any evidence.

  44. Anonymous - Aug 26, 2010 at 7:04 PM

    Hey Sam, way to disrespect Mark Zuckerman the creator of this blog, who in the article you're commenting on talks about part of the reason for Dunn's slump being the lack of protection from Willingham being on the DL. Any other crap you'd like Mark to stop with? Let it all out.

  45. Anonymous - Aug 26, 2010 at 7:18 PM

    I am going to take issue with the 'protection' argument as far as Dunn is concerned. If the theory would be relevant here we should see teams pitching around him to get to the next guy. I,m not seeing that at all; I see Dunn taking pitch after pitch right than the middle of the plate and then swinging wildly on nasty pitches down and away. Sorry Mark; no disrespect intended,

  46. Anonymous - Aug 26, 2010 at 7:39 PM

    BTW; Dunn was hitting ahead of Zim for about 2 – 3 weeks. Didn't help Dunn and it didn't hurt Zim.

  47. Sam - Aug 26, 2010 at 7:50 PM

    Anon 3:04: I don't mean to disrespect anyone, but the idea of protection is dumb. People should put some thought into what they say before they say it. Logically, protection just does not make sense, and there is no evidence for it. So, why would anyone cite that as a reason for Dunn's slump?

  48. Sec3MySofa - Aug 27, 2010 at 12:01 AM

    Sam, people believe in lots of things there's no evidence for.I believe in long, slow, deep, soft, wet kisses that last three days.

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