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Washington Nationals: Pitching to Adam Dunn

May 23, 2010

Last month, I wrote a post on Federal Baseball indicating that MLB pitchers were afraid to pitch to Adam Dunn. At the time, pitchers had thrown 44.49% of pitches to all batters in the strike zone, while only throwing strikes to Dunn 35.05% of the time. As a result, Dunn walked during 30% of his plate appearances. Over the Nats last 20 games, Dunn has walked less and hit more – 10 walks in 70 plate appearances. This 14.29% walk rate is still substantially higher than the major league rate of 8.16% during the same time frame, but is also closer to Dunn’s 16.8% career walk rate. Let’s compare the early season pitches to the pitches Dunn has seen over the last few weeks.

May Comparison

Since May 4th, pitchers have thrown a total of 77,914 pitches, 34,813 for strikes, or 44.68% strikes. This is essentially the same rate we saw early in the season. During this stretch, Dunn has seen 314 pitches, 126 for strikes. This 40.12% rate of pitches thrown in the strike zone is a marked improvement of the 35% rate Dunn saw earlier in the year. It is also more in line with his 2009 season, when he saw 41.85% pitches in the strike zone.

Here is the breakdown of Dunn’s last 314 pitches:

  • 184 Fastballs – 81 Strikes (44.02%)
  • 48 Change Ups – 16 Strikes (33.33%)
  • 33 Sliders – 13 Strikes (39.39%)
  • 28 Curves – 10 Strikes (35.71%)
  • 12 Knuckleballs – 4 Strikes (33.33%)
  • 9 Cutters – 2 Strikes (22.22%)

Here are the locations of the fastballs:

Here are the locations of the remainder of the pitches:

Pitches are better, results are better

Looking at the chart, it’s easy to recognize that Dunn has seen many more pitches close to the zone than he did earlier in the year. In the first few weeks of the season, pitchers were nibbling at the zone, and in some cases, not even coming close to the plate. Now, Dunn is seeing more pitches closer to the center of the plate, and fewer waste pitches. During this stretch, Dunn has had 70 plate appearances, received no free passes, 10 walks, 14 strikeouts, and hit 6 singles, 6 doubles, and 5 home runs (.288 AVG).

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