Adam Dunn’s 2nd Half Rebound

Adam Dunn as has had an unually huge drop in his production so far this year, especially in relation to his power. Over the rest of the season, people should expect some level of increase production because he really doesn’t that much further to drop. By looking back at players that had similar drops in power, the amount he should rebound can be estimated.

I wanted to look at how a hitter performed in the second half of the season and the next year after a huge power drop in the first half of the season. Thanks to our own Eric Seidman, I got a list of the players after 1973 that had at least 1200 PA in the 3 prior seasons, 100 PA before or on July 1st, 100 PA after July 1st and had a similar drop in production as Adam Dunn.

Over the previous 3 seasons (2008 to 2010) the 31 year old averaged an ISO of 0.271 and this season his ISO was 0.142, for a drop of 0.130. Using the above criteria for PA, I found 31 players that saw their 1st half ISO drop somewhere between 0.120 and 0.140. The following is the AVG, OBP, SLG and ISO for the 3 year average before the drop, the values for the 1st half drop, the 2nd half numbers and how the hitter performed the next year:

AVG OBP SLG ISO
3 Previous Year Average 0.291 0.373 0.527 0.236
1st Half 0.247 0.329 0.359 0.112
2nd Half 0.275 0.349 0.474 0.198
Year After 0.272 0.352 0.476 0.203

The performance of this group of players did jump quite a bit in the 2nd half of the season with the biggest increase coming in the form of power (SLG increases by 0.115 and ISO increasing by 0.086). Using these numbers to predict how the rest of the season would go, Adam Dunn would have a 2nd half triple slash line of 0.198/0.340/0.427.

One possible issue with the data, is that average age of the players in the sample is 33 when the drop occurred. This age is 2 years older than Adam is right now. To look at players closer to Adam’s age, I looked at the values for the players that were from the ages of 29 to 33. Fifteen players made the age cut (Mike Macfarlane,Tony Armas, Mike Schmidt, Jeromy Burnitz, Dale Murphy, Vinny Castilla, Reggie Sanders, Pedro Guerrero, Scott Rolen, Alan Trammell, Chipper Jones, Tony Clark, Gary Sheffield, Craig Wilson, Larry Sheets) and here are the results:

AVG OBP SLG ISO
3 Previous Year Average 0.283 0.369 0.526 0.242
1st Half 0.247 0.340 0.364 0.117
2nd Half 0.259 0.343 0.455 0.196
Year After 0.269 0.351 0.471 0.202

The only real difference I noticed was that this group did not increase their production as much in the second half, but their production in next year was almost the same as the larger group.

The above list of players is filled with players with various injuries and it could be a possibility that Adam was rushed back too soon from his early season appendectomy. Also, it has been voiced that some of the decrease in power has been to randomness, but I believe he is just not hitting the ball on average as far this season, for whatever reason.

From 2008 to 2010, he averaged hitting fly balls and home runs (using MLB batted ball data), 308 ft, 300 ft and 315 ft in each season. In 2011 he is averaging only hitting the ball 284 ft. Going to hittrackeronline.com, Adam has not hit a home run over 442 ft this season, while last season he hit 5 over that distance (479 ft being the longest). The drop in distance can be seen in his HR rate. Over his career Adam has averaged 22% HR/FB, while in 2011 it is half that value (11% HR/FB).

Adam Dunn drop off in power is fairly significant this season. Using similar players with such drop offs, it can be seen that he should rebound in the 2nd half and next season, but not close to what he was previously producing. The large drop in power can be attributed to him not being able to hit fly balls as far, thereby having less home runs. Adam Dunn’s future right not now does not look to be very bright.



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Jeff writes for FanGraphs, The Hardball Times and Royals Review, as well as his own website, Baseball Heat Maps with his brother Darrell. In tandem with Bill Petti, he won the 2013 SABR Analytics Research Award for Contemporary Analysis. Follow him on Twitter @jeffwzimmerman.


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steve
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steve
4 years 11 months ago

good lord man, get an editor haha

Brad
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Brad
4 years 11 months ago

Bright idea: learn capitalization rules before commenting on someone’s need for an editor.

Just a friendly bit of advice!

steve
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steve
4 years 11 months ago

hahaha hilarious. whenever someone makes a comment about grammar, you can always count on some snarky kid just itching to pat himself on the back by pointing out something like “capitalization” when a commentor points out the horrible editing in an article.

here’s the difference champ – i’m posting in a comments section. Jeff is writing a professional article for a website in which he’s being paid for. suggesting that he gets an editor is more of a suggestion for his own good and his own career, because if you submitted this to any job as an example of your work, you’d be laughed out of the office. I think there’s 3 errors in the first 2 sentences alone. It’s unreadable at parts. The research is fine, but without proper editing, anything is going to come off as extremely amateur. But i’m sure you felt real good when you noticed i didn’t capitalize something and you could bust out a comeback.

Telo
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Telo
4 years 11 months ago

Agree with Steve…

DavidCEisen
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DavidCEisen
4 years 11 months ago

Actually, there are four major errors in the first two sentences, plus a few small ones (comma usage, verb tense, ect) that are typical of poor writing.

Killer
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Killer
4 years 11 months ago

Brad, you need to capitalize the L in learn.

potent potables
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potent potables
4 years 11 months ago

Even if he proofread it once or twice he would have been able to catch the mistakes himself. This reminds me of staying up all night writing a paper that was due the next day even though it had been assigned for three weeks…

Sitting Curveball
Member
4 years 11 months ago

Is anybody else tired of people blaming it on him becoming a full-time DH? Is there any statistical evidence that fielders converting to DH show an adjustment period?

cowdisciple
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cowdisciple
4 years 11 months ago

There’s evidence that there is a significant DH production penalty, yes. I believe you can find it on this site.

Yinka Double Dare
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Yinka Double Dare
4 years 11 months ago

Small sample size issues of course, but even as bad as he’s been as a DH he’s actually somehow “hit” even worse in those games when he has played in the field.

juan pierre's mustache
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juan pierre's mustache
4 years 11 months ago
Sitting Curveball
Member
4 years 11 months ago

Searching through Google, Fangraphs, and everything else I can find, hasn’t shown me anything. I see people using the fact that “it is harder to hit as a DH than otherwise” but I don’t see a comprehensive study proving it. There are so many confounding variables and anecdotal evidence that I just find it hard to accept without proof.

With all of the technology and resources available to Major League clubs, why can’t they isolate the source that makes hitting as a DH harder than hitting when not a DH? And once that is isolated, work towards removing it? If it is worth even 1 WAR per season, it could save them a lot of money.

j6takish
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j6takish
4 years 11 months ago

Michael Young seems to defy the “DH Effect” as he is having one of his best offensive years

cowdisciple
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cowdisciple
4 years 11 months ago

The Book deals with this. Get The Book if you want the full study. The other stuff you’re finding is most likely referencing it anyway.

everdiso
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everdiso
4 years 11 months ago

I’d buy a comeback 2nd half for him, if only he liked baseball.

alas…

JP Riccardi
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JP Riccardi
4 years 11 months ago

I told you so

Max
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Max
4 years 11 months ago

Wait, so you’re saying Dunn’s 2nd half BA is going to IMPROVE to .198? Good lord. He has been playing…. poorly.

MatManz
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MatManz
4 years 11 months ago

His BABIP’s the lowest it’s ever been. I’m not saying his slump is 100% due to bad luck, but that is a very large part of it. If he can cut down on the strikeouts even slightly, cut down on the donuts and have a little luck come his way, I think he’ll be fine.

Detroit Michael
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Detroit Michael
4 years 11 months ago

Terrific post. Thanks.

Chicago Stan
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Chicago Stan
4 years 11 months ago

However, the conversation should be unnecessary. He should be benched. Star power and star money do not mean a thing when a batter is hitting .160 and expected, given fuzzy number crunching, to improve to .198. If the Chisox want to make a run, then they need productive batters. Ozzie will say that you cannot bench a guy that is making that kind of salary. This kind of response reflects really poor management. You can and should bench such a non-productive player (besides his awful batting avg take a look his LOB numbers!!). After all, any psychologist will tell you that it is insane to continue the same mistake over and over.

Sox2727
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Sox2727
4 years 11 months ago

Name me one team that just flat out benches poor performing players in the first year of a 4 year contract? It just simply doesn’t happen, it’s not just a White Sox thing.

DD
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DD
4 years 11 months ago

See Chone Figgins this year, not the first year of the contract, but plenty left on it…

baty
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baty
4 years 11 months ago

Dunn needs to play… He needs to get better… And it’s really only 1 of many needs for the White Sox to even think about a playoff run

Deadpool
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Deadpool
4 years 11 months ago

The biggest problem with benching him is the next three seasons. You have to let him try to play his way out of this in order to recoup done value from him for the rest of his contract. Even if he only rebounds to half of what he was that helps, and it’s infinitely more likely to happen with him getting regular ABs than riding the bench.

Chicago Stan
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Chicago Stan
4 years 11 months ago

To clarify: Sit him for a while. Ask him to spend some time in AAA — I understand that this is not allowed according to contract, but a good team player should do so. Yes, the guy is on a four year contract, but the team is not about “Dunn development” it is about winning games NOW.

Tim
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Tim
4 years 11 months ago

Ozzie didn’t say he couldn’t bench Dunn. When Kenny and pretty much the whole fanbase wanted to bench Pierre and bring up Viciedo, Ozzie said, “why Juan Pierre?” What he was trying to convey is that Pierre was far from the biggest probelm; Dunn and Rios were absolutely dreadful, but everyone wanted to throw Pierre to the wolves.

macseries
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macseries
4 years 11 months ago

you don’t bench someone for poor past performance, you bench them for poor future performance. it’s called marginal utility.

jklender
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jklender
4 years 11 months ago

How many of the players in question had such a drastic drop in their ability to square up a fastball from one season to the next?

Mister Amoc
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Mister Amoc
4 years 11 months ago

The White Sox, in general, have a lot of fat they need to trim. One third of their lineup actually works against them between Dunn, Rios, and Pierre. Beckham has seemingly gotten worse over time instead of better. Pierzynski is having a decent year, but I wouldn’t count on that for long. You’ve got three good everyday players between Konerko, Ramirez, and Quentin. Konerko is coming into his twilight, and him and Quentin aren’t really that great defensively.

For as inept as the White Sox are at putting together an offense, they do have great pitching though.

CircleChange11
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CircleChange11
4 years 11 months ago

Adam Dunn’s situation is almost as baffling/surprising as Jose Bautista’s.

Seriously, Dunnkey has been a metronome in the power department. He’s been nearly as consistent as Pujols and .300-30-100 seasons.

That he has dropped in performance to such a degree while moving to a hitter’s ballpark is just stunning to me.

I don;t think Dunn fell out of love with baseball or anything of the sort. If anything,I think he may have just gotten used to hitting well, and when he doesn’t, he has no real idea on how to get out of it.

I haven’t watched much ChiSox baseball this year, but when I have I have observed pitchers coming right at him (even mediocre pitchers) to the degree that it’s almost blatant disrespect.

It reminds me of the situation when boxers were no longer afraid of Mike Tyson.

Still, looking at one half of a season when a guy has been consistent as San Diego weather has to be taken with a grain of salt.

He’s with a new team, in a new league, and in a new role.

I find it very difficult to accept that one bad first half trumps ~10 years of steady performance.

I do appreciate the effort, but I also wonder if the research should be limited to more a specific type of hitter, versus looking at all hitters. I know that drastically reduces the sample size, perhaps even reducing it to “just Dunn”, but sometimes large amounts of data applied to a single individual doesn’t really tell us much (due to it being based on an “average”).

kick me in the GO NATS
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kick me in the GO NATS
4 years 11 months ago

Dunn has old guy skills that do not age well. Those types of players usually fall off a cliff when they decline. Check out guys like Willie Stargell (iso in 1980 .223 in 1981 .063) for proof.

MatManz
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MatManz
4 years 11 months ago

Says the butt-hurt Nats fan.

BJ
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BJ
4 years 11 months ago

and rebounded to .178 in 1982? had 202 ab in 1980, 60 in 81, 74 in 82? and we’re talking about stargell’s age 40, 41 and 42 seasons, his age 31 season he hit 48 hr and had a .333 iso. doesnt sound like a comparison that should be made to dunn’s situation. apples to oranges, there unique- both are still fruit so its easy to lump them together

Cooldude
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Cooldude
4 years 11 months ago

Are you suggesting Jose Bautista is some sort of Power Hitting Vampire? If so, I totally agree with that assessment.

Latos Intolerant
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Latos Intolerant
4 years 11 months ago

You comment has more thoughtfulness and relevance than the article to which is attached.

Jesse
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4 years 11 months ago

The grammar in the first sentence of this article is bad enough that I had to stop reading for fear the article was written by a Rusky hack-bot. Word of advice to fangraphs staff: require a peer editing period before something is posted.

Also, Steve rocks, Brad sucks.

Phillie697
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Phillie697
4 years 11 months ago

I don’t know how you obtained those fly ball distance numbers, but if IFFB is included in that number, then his obscenely high IFFB % this year would almost single-handedly explain the decrease in fly ball distance. A high IFFB % would be consistent to a temporary problem due to injury or him “pressing,” but would not be an indication that the hitter has lost true power. I still think once he gets his head out of wherever he decided to stick in in the first half, he’ll go back to being the hitter we’ve all gotten to count on.

Shaun Catron
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Shaun Catron
4 years 11 months ago

The Curious Case of Adam Dunn:
1. Adjusting to the AL from the NL? Took Mark Reynolds a bit of time.
2. White Sox Video Department = LOL! Not very good advanced scouting
3. Can’t hit the heater anymore?
4. Full time DHing isn’t for everyone.

Brian
Guest
4 years 11 months ago

Grammar and such aside (it’s awful), there is another major flaw in the methodology above (unless of course I missed it in the article or someone pointed it out already… if so my apologies).

That study of similar players only includes players who hung around — right? All of those players have “next seasons” that we are drawing data from.

What about players who fall off a cliff and are finished and out of baseball? I’m not saying that Dunn is, but if this sample only includes players who go on to continue to get starts in the major leagues, it’s self-selecting those who did rebound while excluding those who did not.

Pat
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Pat
4 years 11 months ago

The only problem with that is, the main point is to try and predict future results. For guys that end up out of baseball after such a performance, there is no useful data for predicting future returns

Joey Cora's Tear
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Joey Cora's Tear
4 years 11 months ago

What’s more annoying than an article with poor grammar and editing?

A sequence of posts harping on it. The point was made sufficiently in the first reply but folks still feel the need to chime as if further commentary is interesting, needed, or makes them look smart. Wrong on all counts. Get over yourselves.

spankystout
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spankystout
4 years 11 months ago

Geez people stop being little bitches over minor errors. It doesn’t deter from the point unless you are an asshole. Leave these authors alone unless their errors are so bad they undermine their point….which they usually never do.

macseries
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macseries
4 years 11 months ago

“The large drop in power can be attributed to him not being able to hit fly balls as far, thereby having less home runs.”

i see…tell me more…

mgonzo777
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mgonzo777
4 years 11 months ago

This drop off of production is too extreme for a player in his prime and as consistent as Dunn is. I don’t even consider it a drop off of production; it’s just a freakishly long slump. This extended slump got under his skin and he’s all wrapped around his axle trying to get out of it. I think he’s finally able to breath a little after making more contact recently and that big game against the Nats a few weeks ago. He’s hitting a lot of atom balls and just missing some homers. It’s not showing up in the box scores but he is turning the corner. He’s even cut down his strikeouts some but this is Adam Dunn. He was the strikeout king until Mark Reynolds entered the league.

greg
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greg
4 years 11 months ago

Dunn has historically fallen off in every other 2nd half. It was painful to watch him in Cincinnati taking pitch after pitch and being called out on strikes.

Steve
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Steve
4 years 11 months ago

In NY we’re asking the same questions about Jason Bay. Only difference is, with Bay we’re going on two seasons now

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