Adam Dunn Does Not Like Sacrificing Flies

While recently admiring the statistical oddities of Adam Dunn‘s career (beyond his “TTO” status and the four consecutive seasons of exactly 40 homers), I stumbled upon a factoid that baffled and befuddled me.  In 2004, “The Big Donkey,” while hitting 46 dingers and driving in 102, failed to knock anyone in via a sac fly.

Obviously, he had the power and type of swing to loft a fly ball almost at will.  Prior to 2004, in his first three years in the Majors, Dunn compiled a 0.58 groundball:flyball ratio.  In those three years, he drove in 173 runners, but only seven by a sacrifice fly.  And its not like he didn’t have opportunities to do so.  He came to the plate 76 times with a runner on third and less than two out, walked 17 times, and hit four homers in his remaining 51 at-bats.

For his career, he’s had 267 at-bats with a man on third and less than two out situations.  He’s gone yard 16 times, and hit a sac fly only 29 times.  So, is his 2004 sac fly “bagel” historic?  What about his career?

Here is the list of players with at least 1,500 games played, with the fewest career sac flies since 1954 (when the sac fly rule was finally installed for good):

Player SF G From To PA HR RBI BA OBP SLG OPS
Juan Pierre 19 1751 2000 2011 7509 16 484 .296 .345 .363 .708
Bud Harrelson 23 1533 1965 1980 5516 7 267 .236 .327 .288 .616
Jose Hernandez 24 1587 1991 2006 5089 168 603 .252 .312 .418 .729
Lenny Harris 25 1903 1988 2005 4289 37 369 .269 .318 .349 .667
Mike Jorgensen 25 1633 1968 1985 4034 95 426 .243 .347 .373 .720
Cesar Geronimo 25 1522 1969 1983 4229 51 392 .258 .325 .368 .693
Luis Castillo 26 1720 1996 2010 7471 28 443 .290 .368 .351 .719
Otis Nixon 28 1709 1983 1999 5800 11 318 .270 .343 .314 .658
Adam Dunn 29 1570 2001 2011 6561 365 922 .243 .374 .503 .876
Derrel Thomas 29 1597 1971 1985 5268 43 370 .249 .317 .332 .649
Matty Alou 29 1667 1960 1974 6220 31 427 .307 .345 .381 .726
Maury Wills 29 1942 1959 1972 8304 20 458 .281 .330 .331 .661
Kevin Bass 30 1571 1982 1995 5291 118 611 .270 .323 .411 .735
Oscar Gamble 30 1584 1969 1985 5197 200 666 .265 .356 .454 .811
Dick McAuliffe 30 1763 1960 1975 7162 197 697 .247 .343 .403 .746
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 2/10/2012.

Mainly a bunch of singles hitters and/or guys that could handle the bat. Oscar Gamble is the only other .800+ OPS guy on the list and the only other one with 200+ homers. Juan Pierre, Bud Harrelson, Otis Nixon and Maury Wills all have/had more sacrifice flies than homers in their careers (not that there is anything wrong with that).

Of those who started their careers in 1954 or later, Dunn’s 922 RBI ranks 204th.  His 29 sac flies make up 3.15% of his RBI total, the lowest percentage of those 204 run producers.  Here’s the “worst sac fly percentage but lots of RBI list”:

Player G PA HR RBI SF SF% of RBI
Adam Dunn 1570 6561 365 922 29 3.15%
Mike Piazza 1912 7745 427 1335 45 3.37%
Richie Sexson 1367 5604 306 943 36 3.82%
Frank Howard 1895 7353 382 1119 43 3.84%
Mark Teixeira 1374 6034 314 1017 40 3.93%
Reggie Jackson 2820 11416 563 1702 68 4.00%
Andres Galarraga 2257 8916 399 1425 58 4.07%
Joe Torre 2209 8801 252 1185 50 4.22%
Mo Vaughn 1512 6410 328 1064 45 4.23%
Vladimir Guerrero 2147 9059 449 1496 64 4.28%
Derek Jeter 2426 11155 240 1196 52 4.35%
Reggie Sanders 1777 7043 305 983 43 4.37%
Torii Hunter 1807 7303 281 1051 46 4.38%
Jeromy Burnitz 1694 6579 315 981 43 4.38%
Jorge Posada 1829 7150 275 1065 47 4.41%
Jim Thome 2485 10127 604 1674 74 4.42%
Willie McCovey 2588 9686 521 1555 70 4.50%

And in case you are wondering, Amos Otis leads the group of 204, with 10.2% of his RBI coming via the sacrifice fly (103 out of 1007).

Dunn is currently 58th on the list of homers for players whose careers started in 1954 or later (365).  With those measly 29 sac flies, he’s averaging one per 12.6 homers, the worst rate amongst the top 200 homer hitters since 1954.

Player G PA HR SF HR/SF
Adam Dunn 1570 6561 365 29 12.59
Rob Deer 1155 4512 230 22 10.45
Mike Piazza 1912 7745 427 45 9.49
Frank Howard 1895 7353 382 43 8.88
Richie Sexson 1367 5604 306 36 8.50
Barry Bonds 2986 12606 762 91 8.37
Reggie Jackson 2820 11416 563 68 8.28
Ryan Howard 1027 4409 286 35 8.17
Jim Thome 2485 10127 604 74 8.16
Alfonso Soriano 1606 6916 340 43 7.91
Mark Teixeira 1374 6034 314 40 7.85
Sammy Sosa 2354 9896 609 78 7.81
Rick Monday 1986 7162 241 32 7.53
Mark McGwire 1874 7660 583 78 7.47
Willie McCovey 2588 9686 521 70 7.44
Harmon Killebrew 2435 9831 573 77 7.44

And again, for those of you curious about the flip side, Robin Yount has the best rate, at 2.04 homers per sac fly (251 homers, 123 SF).

Dunn’s 2004 campaign had the 13th-most plate appearances without a sacrifice fly:

Player PA SF Year Tm G 2B HR RBI SH BA OBP SLG OPS
Pete Rose 752 0 1973 CIN 160 36 5 64 1 .338 .401 .437 .838
Frank Taveras 725 0 1979 TOT 164 29 1 34 10 .262 .298 .335 .633
Kirby Puckett 723 0 1986 MIN 161 37 31 96 2 .328 .366 .537 .903
Gene Richards 712 0 1980 SDP 158 26 4 41 7 .301 .363 .385 .748
Randy Velarde 711 0 1999 TOT 156 25 16 76 4 .317 .390 .455 .845
Vada Pinson 706 0 1959 CIN 154 47 20 84 2 .316 .371 .509 .880
Jose Reyes 703 0 2006 NYM 153 30 19 81 2 .300 .354 .487 .841
Steve Sax 699 0 1982 LAD 150 23 4 47 10 .282 .335 .359 .694
Lou Brock 697 0 1965 STL 155 35 16 69 11 .288 .345 .445 .791
Don Blasingame 691 0 1959 STL 150 26 1 24 7 .289 .361 .359 .720
Tony Womack 689 0 1997 PIT 155 26 6 50 2 .278 .326 .374 .700
Bill Bruton 685 0 1955 MLN 149 30 9 47 2 .275 .325 .403 .728
Adam Dunn 681 0 2004 CIN 161 34 46 102 0 .266 .388 .569 .956
Elvis Andrus 674 0 2010 TEX 148 15 0 35 17 .265 .342 .301 .643
Bill Almon 670 0 1977 SDP 155 18 2 43 20 .261 .303 .336 .639
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 2/10/2012.

Dunn’s 2004 season is one of only ten in which a qualifier for the batting title slugged at least .500 but did not have a sacrifice fly:

Player SLG SF Year Tm G PA HR RBI BA OBP OPS
Ted Williams .605 0 1956 BOS 136 503 24 82 .345 .479 1.084
Adam Dunn .569 0 2004 CIN 161 681 46 102 .266 .388 .956
Dick Allen .566 0 1967 PHI 122 540 23 77 .307 .404 .970
Jeromy Burnitz .553 0 1997 MIL 153 577 27 85 .281 .382 .934
Carlton Fisk .538 0 1972 BOS 131 514 22 61 .293 .370 .909
Kirby Puckett .537 0 1986 MIN 161 723 31 96 .328 .366 .903
Mark Bellhorn .512 0 2002 CHC 146 529 27 56 .258 .374 .886
Vada Pinson .509 0 1959 CIN 154 706 20 84 .316 .371 .880
Frank Robinson .504 0 1958 CIN 148 623 31 83 .269 .350 .854
Nick Esasky .500 0 1989 BOS 154 633 30 108 .277 .355 .855
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 2/10/2012.

Just how many ribbies could you gather in a season without lofting a flyball with a runner on third?  Here are the top 15 (hat tip to @williamnyy23 for the suggestion):

Player RBI SF Year Tm G PA H HR BA OBP SLG OPS
Chili Davis 112 0 1993 CAL 153 645 139 27 .243 .327 .440 .767
Nick Esasky 108 0 1989 BOS 154 633 156 30 .277 .355 .500 .855
Adam Dunn 102 0 2004 CIN 161 681 151 46 .266 .388 .569 .956
Kirby Puckett 96 0 1986 MIN 161 723 223 31 .328 .366 .537 .903
Jeromy Burnitz 85 0 1997 MIL 153 577 139 27 .281 .382 .553 .934
Vada Pinson 84 0 1959 CIN 154 706 205 20 .316 .371 .509 .880
Buddy Bell 83 0 1980 TEX 129 534 161 17 .329 .379 .498 .877
Frank Robinson 83 0 1958 CIN 148 623 149 31 .269 .350 .504 .854
Ted Williams 82 0 1956 BOS 136 503 138 24 .345 .479 .605 1.084
Jose Reyes 81 0 2006 NYM 153 703 194 19 .300 .354 .487 .841
Reggie Jackson 81 0 1984 CAL 143 584 117 25 .223 .300 .406 .706
Dick Allen 77 0 1967 PHI 122 540 142 23 .307 .404 .566 .970
Jacque Jones 76 0 2000 MIN 154 550 149 19 .285 .319 .463 .781
Randy Velarde 76 0 1999 TOT 156 711 200 16 .317 .390 .455 .845
Gary Roenicke 74 0 1982 BAL 137 477 106 21 .270 .392 .499 .891
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 2/10/2012.

Some pretty big names on that list . . . Ted Williams, Reggie Jackson, Dick Allen.

Dunn blew away the field when it came to most homers in a season without a sacrifice fly:

Player HR SF Year Tm G PA RBI BA OBP SLG OPS
Adam Dunn 46 0 2004 CIN 161 681 102 .266 .388 .569 .956
Kirby Puckett 31 0 1986 MIN 161 723 96 .328 .366 .537 .903
Frank Robinson 31 0 1958 CIN 148 623 83 .269 .350 .504 .854
Nick Esasky 30 0 1989 BOS 154 633 108 .277 .355 .500 .855
Felix Mantilla 30 0 1964 BOS 133 470 64 .289 .357 .553 .910
Mark Bellhorn 27 0 2002 CHC 146 529 56 .258 .374 .512 .886
Jeromy Burnitz 27 0 1997 MIL 153 577 85 .281 .382 .553 .934
Chili Davis 27 0 1993 CAL 153 645 112 .243 .327 .440 .767
Wily Mo Pena 26 0 2004 CIN 110 364 66 .259 .316 .527 .843
Kal Daniels 26 0 1987 CIN 108 430 64 .334 .429 .617 1.046
Graig Nettles 26 0 1970 CLE 157 633 62 .235 .336 .404 .741
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 2/10/2012.

So just what happened to Dunn in 2004.  I used the Baseball Reference Play Index to find the Dunn’s sac fly opportunities.  He had 44 plate appearances with less than two out and a runner on third (he averages about 36 such situations per full year for his career).  Now of course, anything can happen in a sample of 44 plate appearances.  But Dunn managed to do just about everything except hit a sacrifice fly:

Date Opp Score Inn RoB Out Play Description
2004-04-08 CHC ahead 0-2 BB b1 -23 1 Walk
2004-04-16 @CHC ahead 0-2 Out t1 -23 0 Foul Popfly: 1B (Behind Home)
2004-04-23 @PIT tied 0-0 BB t3 123 0 Walk; Jimenez Scores; Larkin to 3B; Casey to 2B
2004-04-27 @MIL ahead 0-2 SO t1 –3 1 Strikeout Swinging
2004-04-27 @MIL ahead 6-7 IBB t9 -23 0 Intentional Walk
2004-04-28 @MIL ahead 0-3 BB t3 –3 1 Walk
2004-04-28 @MIL ahead 0-6 RoE t4 1-3 1 Reached on E4/attempted forceout (Ground Ball); Larkin Scores; Casey to 2B
2004-05-05 MIL tied 4-4 IBB b9 1-3 1 Intentional Walk; Casey to 2B
2004-05-06 MIL down 6-5 SO b7 123 0 Strikeout Looking
2004-05-07 SFG down 6-1 SO b9 123 0 Strikeout Swinging
2004-05-13 @SDP ahead 0-1 Out t1 1-3 1 Popfly: SS (Short LF-CF)
2004-05-16 @LAD tied 0-0 2B t1 123 0 Double to LF (Fly Ball to Deep LF Line); Freel Scores; Jimenez Scores; Griffey to 3B
2004-05-18 COL ahead 0-1 Out b1 1-3 1 Groundout: 2B-SS/Forceout at 2B; Larkin Scores
2004-05-21 HOU down 2-1 SO b1 123 1 Strikeout Swinging
2004-05-22 HOU ahead 0-2 2B b3 123 1 Double to CF (Fly Ball to Deep CF); Larkin Scores; Casey Scores; Kearns to 3B
2004-05-22 HOU ahead 6-8 IBB b8 –3 1 Intentional Walk
2004-05-23 HOU ahead 0-2 SO b1 1-3 1 Strikeout Swinging
2004-06-08 @OAK down 10-6 Out t9 1-3 1 Foul Popfly: 3B (3B Foul)
2004-06-11 @CLE ahead 1-3 SO t3 123 1 Strikeout Looking
2004-06-11 @CLE ahead 2-3 Out t5 1-3 0 Popfly: 1B
2004-06-12 @CLE ahead 1-3 Out t5 123 1 Foul Popfly: C (Behind Home)
2004-06-13 @CLE tied 7-7 Out t7 1-3 1 Flyball: LF (Short LF)
2004-06-16 TEX tied 3-3 Out b7 1-3 1 Foul Popfly: C (Behind Home)
2004-06-22 @NYM tied 1-1 2B t3 1-3 1 Ground-rule Double (Fly Ball to LF-CF); Jimenez Scores; Griffey to 3B
2004-07-19 MIL tied 0-0 HBP b1 1-3 1 Hit By Pitch; Casey to 2B
2004-07-21 @CHC tied 0-0 SO t1 -23 1 Strikeout Swinging
2004-07-24 @PIT ahead 0-2 BB t3 -23 0 Walk
2004-07-24 @PIT down 12-4 SO t8 123 1 Strikeout Swinging
2004-08-04 @SFG tied 0-0 HR t3 -23 0 Home Run (Fly Ball); Casey Scores; Griffey Scores
2004-08-11 LAD down 11-0 Out b4 –3 1 Groundout: SS-1B; Larkin Scores
2004-08-13 SDP down 13-4 Out b8 –3 0 Groundout: 2B-1B; Casey Scores
2004-08-15 SDP down 3-2 SO b3 1-3 1 Strikeout Swinging
2004-08-15 SDP down 3-2 SO b5 123 1 Strikeout Swinging
2004-08-18 @STL ahead 0-1 2B t1 –3 1 Double to LF (Line Drive to Deep LF); Jimenez Scores
2004-08-29 ARI ahead 2-4 Out b8 123 1 Popfly: 1B
2004-09-05 @MIL tied 0-0 BB t1 1-3 1 Walk; Casey to 2B
2004-09-05 @MIL ahead 0-5 HR t4 1-3 1 Home Run (Line Drive); Freel Scores; Casey Scores
2004-09-06 @HOU tied 0-0 SO t1 1-3 1 Strikeout Looking
2004-09-11 MIL ahead 0-1 HR b3 123 1 Home Run (Line Drive); Hudson Scores; Lopez Scores; Casey Scores
2004-09-17 CHC down 11-1 Out b8 1-3 0 Popfly: 3B
2004-09-21 @ATL down 5-2 Out t8 –3 1 Groundout: 1B-P; Lopez Scores
2004-09-23 @ATL down 1-0 SO t4 1-3 1 Strikeout Looking
2004-09-23 @ATL down 1-0 Out t6 -23 0 Groundout: 2B-1B; Lopez Scores; Casey to 3B
2004-09-24 @PIT ahead 0-1 BB t1 1-3 0 Walk; Casey to 2B
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 2/10/2012.

The final tally:

PA 44
R 23
AB 34
H 7
2B 4
3B 0
HR 3
RBI 23
BB 9
IBB 3
SO 12
HBP 1
SH 0
SF 0
ROE 1
GDP 0

Not even a flyball double play with the runner on third being tagged out at home.  In fact, I couldn’t find one such double play in Dunn’s entire career to date.

So, if you see Dunn at bat with less than two outs and a runner on third, odds are Dunn won’t be hitting a simple fly ball.  (Yes, even in his horrible 2011 season he had two sac flies.)   But if he does hit a sac fly, cherish the moment.

 

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