Report: Nationals unlikely to re-sign Adam Dunn because of defense (and one scout is insane)

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Reports about contract talks between Adam Dunn and the Nationals have varied so much throughout the season that it’s tough to know what to believe at this point, but today Ben Goessling of MASNSports.com writes that “sources familiar with the team’s thinking” believe “they’re likely to let him walk” as a free agent.
According to Goessling “the team continues to view Dunn’s defense at first base as a sticking point, and is reluctant to give him the four-year deal he prefers because of it.” Goessling quotes an opposing team’s scout as saying that “the only person in the front office who wants to re-sign him is the owner.”
The same scout went on to make the absolutely absurd claim that Dunn’s defense at first base “costs them half a run a game” and “is worse than it looks on paper.” In other words, there’s a person paid to watch and evaluate professional baseball players who thinks Adam Dunn has cost the Nationals about 80 runs with his defense this season. To put that in some context, the Nationals have allowed a grand total of 724 runs this season.
Not only has no first baseman in baseball history ever cost his team anywhere near 80 runs in a season defensively, you can be pretty certain no player at any position has ever been 80 runs below average in a single year. It’s a ridiculous assertion with no basis in reality that gets passed off as something other than worthless by virtue of the presumption that every scout knows what he’s talking about on all things baseball.
If you’re curious, Ultimate Zone Rating pegs Dunn as 1.9 runs below average on defense this season, which ranks eighth-worst among full-time first basemen. Prince Fielder has the worst first baseman UZR at -9.2 runs. Looking at all positions, Carlos Quentin has the worst UZR at 17.6 runs below average, followed by Jonny Gomes at -14.7, Matt Kemp at -14.6, and Carlos Lee at -13.9. In other words, according to UZR the four worst defenders and the worst defensive first baseman have been 70 runs below average this season … combined.
Whether or not the Nationals re-sign Dunn, they should consider themselves lucky not to employ that scout.

Marcus Stroman named World Baseball Classic MVP

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United States starter Marcus Stroman was named Most Valuable Player of the World Baseball Classic after helping lead the U.S. to its first ever WBC title on Wednesday night in an 8-0 victory over Puerto Rico. Stroman flirted with a no-hitter through six innings, but gave up a double to lead off the seventh before being relieved by Sam Dyson.

Stroman also pitched 4 2/3 scoreless innings against the Dominican Republic in Pool C play on March 11. He struggled in Pool F play against Puerto Rico last Friday, surrendering four runs in 4 2/3 innings.

The WBC MVP award understandably goes to a player of the winning team. However, Wladimir Balentien of the Netherlands deserves special mention. In 26 at-bats during the WBC, he hit a double and had a WBC-high four home runs, 12 RBI, and 12 runs scored while putting up a .615/.677/.1.115 batting line. That’s MVP-esque as far as this tournament is concerned.

U.S. blanks Puerto Rico 8-0 to win first World Baseball Classic title

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The United States handed Puerto Rico its first loss in the World Baseball Classic, winning 8-0 for its first title in the fourth iteration of the tournament.

Puerto Rico starter Seth Lugo was matching Marcus Stroman zero-for-zero through the first two innings, but the U.S. broke out for a pair of runs when Ian Kinsler deposited a two-run home run just beyond the fence in left-center at Dodger Stadium. The U.S. tacked on two more in the fifth on RBI singles from Christian Yelich and Andrew McCutchen, pushing the lead to 4-0.

Meanwhile, Stroman was dealing. The right-hander, normally seen in a Blue Jays uniform, held Puerto Rico hitless through his first six innings, giving up just a lone walk. The U.S. put together a long rally in the top of the seventh, scoring three runs on three hits, two walks, and a hit batter. Stroman came back out for the seventh but immediately served up a double down the left field line to Angel Pagan. U.S. manager Jim Leyland immediately lifted Stroman from the game, bringing in Sam Dyson who escaped the inning without any further damage.

Pat Neshek allowed a leadoff single to Yadier Molina to begin the eighth, but induced a double-play, then worked around a two-out walk by striking out Kenny Vargas to end the frame.

In the ninth, David Robertson took over. He induced an infield pop-up from Enrique Hernandez. After Pagan singled up the middle, Francisco Lindor sharply grounded out to Eric Hosmer at first base for the second out. Finally, Robertson closed it out, inducing Carlos Correa to ground out to third base, making the U.S. 8-0 victors over Puerto Rico to win the World Baseball Classic.

Puerto Rico had an admirable run, defeating Venezuela, Mexico, and Italy to get out of Pool D undefeated. Then, in Pool F, it beat Venezuela again as well as the U.S. and the Dominican Republic to move to the semifinals. It narrowly edged Netherlands 4-3 in the semifinals to get into the finals.

The U.S. lost to the D.R. but beat Canada and Colombia to get out of Pool C. In Pool F, the U.S. lost to Puerto Rico and defeated the D.R again as well as Venezuela. The U.S. took down Japan in the semifinals to advance to the finals to play Puerto Rico.

The U.S. joins Japan (twice, 2006 and ’09) and the Dominican Republic (2013) as countries to win the World Baseball Classic. The 2017 tournament was a rousing success, setting attendance records, drawing over one million fans to ballparks to take in the games. It will hopefully encourage commissioner Rob Manfred and others to make a concerted effort to make the 2021 tournament bigger and better.