On May of 2008, we published an article here looking at whether Adam Dunn might be a good investment for the during the 2008 offseason. Yeah, remember those days? It was the first of May and we were already looking forward to the offeseason. Anyways, the negatives on Dunn boiled down to these two views:
1. His skills were old player skills and thus prone to rapid aging, making a long term contract bad news.
2. His defense is horrible.
Jeff equated Dunn's defense to:
have you ever tossed the ball around with a friend on the beach? Have you ever missed the ball and had to go get it in the ocean? You sprint after it with all your energy, but you're limited by both the wet sand and the foot or three of water, so while you never really lose sight of the ball, and while it's not in danger of drifting away, it still takes forever to get there.
Now, little to be known at the time, but the market completely crashed in the offseason and Dunn, despite our fears of getting between a 5Y/$75M and 6Y/$90M contract, ended up at two years and just $20 million. That short of contract effectively eliminated concerns about his decline phase. He was just 29 this year so a contract running his age 29 and 30 seasons seems like pure gold. It's like getting the first two years of the Richie Sexson contract. That would be awesome. Well done, .
On the second point however... Keep in mind that this is not an isolated incident. Adam Dunn's defense has been atrociously bad for years and the fact that it's horrible is as unanimously agreed-upon as you'll find a defensive statement in baseball. His UZRs the four years prior to 2009; -19, -15, -19, -28. That's bad. But you know what they say, if you're ugly, just find an uglier person to be your friend and you'll look more attractive in comparison. So Adam Dunn went out and had 2009, a season in which he rotated through 1B (67 games), LF (62 games) and RF(22 games). Combined from the three, Adam Dunn tallied a -36.4 UZR.
Adam Dunn was the 20th best hitter in baseball this year according to StatCorner's park-adjusted wOBA. FanGraphs equals pretty closely on his hitting value. He had a career year in batting average and nearly one in OBP and OPS as well. Because of his defense and position, he netted 1.1 WAR. Endy Chavez played 54 games in the outfield, had a sub-.700 OPS and managed 0.9 WAR.
-36.4 UZR. Unfathomable.