Clone Wars: Jason Bay and Adam Dunn

This weekend I spent a lot of time looking at Jason Bay. Over at Yawkey Way Academy I took a look at Bay compared to Pat Burrell at age 31. Then when deciding who to look at here I found 2009 Bay could have been swapped with Adam Dunn. We won’t look at defense here, but it’s safe to say Bay was safe from a Dunn comparison out there.

        R    HR   RBI  SB   AVG    OBP    SLG   wOBA
Bay    103   36   119  13  0.267  0.384  0.537  0.397
Dunn    81   38   105   0  0.267  0.398  0.529  0.394

As with defense we just have to address that Bay has better speed than Dunn. While Dunn has previously stolen as many as 19 bases, he was unable to steal any in 2009. That isn’t why you would have Dunn on your team anyway, but the few extra steals didn’t hurt. Bay has posted double digits for two years straight and the two years before his dismal 2007.

MLB: OCT 10 ALDS – Game 2 – Red Sox at Angels
9 October 2009: Boston Red Sox left fielder Jason Bay (44) during a game against the Los Angeles Angels during ALDS Game Two at Angels Stadium in Anaheim, CA. (Icon/SMI)

Before 2009 Bay had a better average and would avoid comparisons to Dunn, but in 2009 his strikeout rate jumped to 30.4%. That is what mostly accounted for the .267 average this year and with continued age Bay shouldn’t expect to get better at making contact. Dunn, on the other hand, has always hacked away and his strikeout rate matched his career rate at 32.4%. His average improved with a BABIP at .326, which was up from his career rate of .294. This shouldn’t last since he’s in a neutral park after years in a huge hitters’ park.

One of the biggest changes to put these two so close was the growth in walk rate for Bay. His career rate stands at 12.9 percent, but was at 15 percent in 2009 and helped post a solid OBP. I worry about his newfound ability to walk so much even though adding walks often comes with age. His swinging rates stayed at career levels for pitches in and out of the zone while he made less contact on all pitches. He walked more, though, with his lowest number of pitches seen in the zone. He only saw 48 percent of pitches in the strike zone, which from his career rate is more than 100 pitches less in the zone.

Since Bay is possibly changing teams it may make this comparison even more interesting. If he ends up in a lineup devoid of talent like Washington he could suddenly lose a lot of value with dropping run and RBI totals. He posted third-round value in 2009, but could he suddenly fall to seventh-round value like Dunn if he can’t be counted on in these categories?

I don’t think Bay has too much risk of seeing a lineup as bad as the Nationals and should maintain more value next year, but it is something to keep in mind. The other thing to be aware of, especially in keeper leagues, is that Bay might someday be pushed to DH. I know I said I would pass on defensive comparisons, but the truth is both Bay and Dunn should be DHs at this point in their careers. Bay is not as egregious as Dunn in the outfield, but his trend of posting UZR/150 numbers worse than -10 is costing his team. If either player ends up in a full-time DH spot they lose some value in your league. For 2010, though, Dunn holds a slight bonus with first base eligibility and outfield.

To their teams they add similar value offensively, but fantasy wise Bay is still the better bet. You have to pay for that, though, and you should be cautious until you know what team he is playing for. A move to a weaker offense or a pitchers’ park would do serious damage to his value. If you drafted today, how much would you lower your expectations for Bay not knowing where he would end up?

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  1. Peter D said...

    This is great because I am currently debating between keeping Bay or Dunn in my keeper league.  Right now Bay has the edge, but if he signs with Seattle, that edge will move over to Dunn.

  2. Troy Patterson said...

    I agree Dave that his 2007 should be a warning where he might also play through injuries with less success.

    This is less Fantasy related, but if Bay goes to Anaheim would that be the worst outfield in the league? Bay/Hunter/Abreu

  3. The Big Ox said...

    One last fantasy angle to consider…Dunn will qualify at 1B and OF in most leagues in 2010 and that position flexibility adds to his value.  Depending on where Bay ends up, these two are very close for another year or two.

  4. pft said...

    Imagine Bay hitting behind Ichiro and Figgins, that won’t hurt his RBI’s.  He had 21 of his 36 HR on the roads so it wasn’t like Fenway inflated his totals much.

    Comparisons to Dunn are unfair.  He can run the bases well, not just SB, and defensively he made no errors and had decent range. His biggest problem is his arm which is not very accurate not to mention his slow release after he scoops up a GB.  I don’t trust UZR for LF’ers in Fenway.  Plus minus had him at -1 and they do a better job of accounting for balls off the wall (UZR just uses a park factor).

    His walk and k rates were similar in 2005 and 2006, although he was a bit higher in k rate in 2009 (in the AL east though). These were arguably his best years before his injury in 2007, so if anything 2007 and 2008 were outliers and nobody should read much into a slightly higher k rate in a tougher league. 

    As for injury, this is a definite possibility, especially if he goes to Seattle.  Fenway is a good place for a LF’er with bad knees.  But in Seattle he should have no problem getting AB’s at DH to spell him a bit from Safeco, just a question of if they would do this.

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