Now on to Adam Dunn. Ever since... well... all season, Ryan Zimmerman has been Adam Dunn's biggest advocate. There's a lot to explain for Zimmerman's love for Adam. First, almost every player on the Nationals in 2010 has said that Dunn is a crucial element of the chemistry created in the clubhouse. He truly cares about all the guys on that team.
But just think about the kind of season that Zimmerman just had. He finished the season hitting .307, the best of his career by 15 points. His second best? The year before in 2009, where he hit .292. Sure, those numbers are partially due to the fact that Zimmerman is entering the prime of his career and should only be getting better over the next few years. But what else was different compared to previous seasons? The guy hitting behind him.
For most of Adam Dunn's tenure with the Nationals, Zimmerman hit 3rd, Dunn hit 4th. So when a pitcher is looking at that lineup card, there are some real decisions to make. Do they pitch to Zimmerman to try to avoid the slugging Dunn? Do they pitch around Zimmerman and get to Dunn with Zimmerman on base? That 3-4 didn't make it easy on anyone, and was one of the most potent 3-4 spots in the National League, except for Braun-Fielder in Milwaukee and Utley-Howard in Philadelphia.
So with the thought of Adam Dunn not hitting behind him for the first time in 2 years, Zimmerman is justifiably concerned. Who is his protection? Let's explore those options:
- Josh Willingham: Willingham is a perfect 5 spot guy. He has a high OBP, but he doesn't typically hit for tremendous power.
- Michael Morse: Morse hits lots of line drives and hit for good average this year, but he's not a home run hitter.
- Free Agents: Whether you look at Huff, Peña, or really any other viable options at 1st base to replace done, none of them will replace a 40 HR/100 RBI hitter in Dunn, no mater how many strike outs he had (more than 200).
So it's truly no wonder that Zimm has been so high on Dunn. I'm sure the two have developed a great friendship as Zimmerman has said, but Zimmerman's numbers certainly play some part in the equation.