Today, we look back to 2009, when the Washington Nationals signed power-hitting first baseman, Adam Dunn
In today’s Fed City Flashback, we look back to what happened on this day in Washington Nationals history. Heading into the 2009 offseason, the Nats were looking for more power in their lineup. In 2008, their team total of 117 home runs was the second lowest in the National League and the third lowest in the league, ahead of only the Twins and the Giants. If you look at first base specifically, they had 14 home runs (tied for the second lowest in the league).
To help improve those power numbers, the Nationals went out and signed former Reds’ first baseman/outfielder Adam Dunn to a two-year, $20 million deal. Dunn, who was going into his age 29 season, was drafted by then Nats general manager Jim Bowden in the second round back in 1998 when Bowden was running the Cincinnati Reds.
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In his first year with the Nationals, Dunn had a slash line of .267/.398/.529 with 38 home runs and 105 RBI’s in 159 games. He was ninth in the National League in on-base percentage and sixth in home runs. However, he had a .302 batting average when he played left field as opposed to a .250 average at first base.
One year later, Dunn had another 38 home run season as he had a slash line of .260/.356/.536 with 103 RBI’s in 158 games. He was second in the NL in home runs behind only the Cardinals’ Albert Pujols (42) and he was tied for seventh in RBI’s. After posting a -0.4 WAR in 2009, his WAR went up to 2.4 in 2010, which was the third highest of his career and third on the team (behind Josh Willingham and Ryan Zimmerman).
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Despite those great power numbers, Dunn struggled as a fielder. At first base, he combined for -34 runs saved in his two years in DC (according to Fangraphs). As for his fielding in the outfield, it wasn’t much better as he had -20 runs saved in 2009.
Dunn would become a free agent after the 2010 season and he would end up signing a four-year deal worth $56 million with the Chicago White Sox. As for the Nats, Michael Morse became the full time first baseman and had a slash line of .303/.360/.550 with 31 home runs and 95 RBI’s in 146 games.
Looking back on this deal, the Nationals made a good signing bringing in a player who brought instant power to their lineup. Even though the Nats didn’t win much in Dunn’s two years, he was able to be one of the key veterans on the team with Zimmerman and Ian Desmond still at age 25 and 24, respectively.