Jaffe: Adam Dunn, the king of Three True Outcomes, calls it a career

From SABR member Jay Jaffe at SI.com on October 1, 2014:

Adam Dunn will never play a postseason game, but if the 34-year-old slugger is indeed making good on his plans to retire, he does so as the all-time Three True Outcomes king — the exemplar of an era of changing baseball, one of which not everybody is so fond.

As first introduced to the public by Baseball Prospectus co-founder Rany Jazayerli, the Three True Outcomes are the home run, the strikeout and the base on balls, the events which “distill the game to its essence, the battle of pitcher against hitter, free from the distractions of the defense, the distortion of foot speed or the corruption of managerial tactics like the bunt and his wicked brother, the hit-and-run,” as Jazayerli wrote back in 2000. A decade and a half later, those outcomes have become even more prevalent at the major league level, both on the field — with soaring rising strikeout rates and still-high home run rates, even if they’ve fallen from their peak — and in analytic circles.

The Three True Outcomes form the foundation of the Fielding Independent Pitching statistic and the FanGraphs version of Wins Above Replacement. On a certain level, they’re a Rorschach blot, lazily linked to Moneyball by those who couldn’t be bothered to discern Michael Lewis’ book’s real message about searching for hidden value on a shoestring budget — and by contrast, to the put-it-in-play small-ball style with which this year’s Royals knocked Dunn’s A’s out of the playoffs before he could make an appearance.

With his 462 career home runs (35th all-time), 1,317 walks (40th) and 2,379 strikeouts (third), Dunn produced a TTO event in 49.93 percent of his career plate appearances, the highest rate of any player with at least 4,000 PA, just ahead of Rob Deer, the patron saint of the phenomenon back when Jazayerli and his fellow statheads began tracking it in the late 1990s.

Read the full article here: http://www.si.com/mlb/2014/10/01/adam-dunn-retires-three-true-outcomes-oakland-athletics

Originally published: October 2, 2014. Last Updated: October 2, 2014.