While Dunn hasn’t hit 40 home runs since 2008, he’s played half his games in a pitcher’s park with Washington. Nationals’ Park hurt left-handers when it came to home runs, according to StatCorner’s park factors (94=below average, 100=average). Dunn still hit 20 home runs at home in 2010 and 19 in 2009, though, both of which were not lower than his road totals.
But U.S. Cellular Field is a hitter’s haven, as StatCorner rates its home run park factor for left-handed hitters at 122. That bodes extremely well for Dunn’s chances to get back to a 40-home run mark.
… Essentially, the White Sox are betting that Dunn can maintain his peak production into his early 30s while switching leagues and potentially transitioning to being a bat-only player. If he sees some age related decline, struggles in the American League, or doesn’t adjust well to life as a sometimes-DH, he’ll have a hard time justifying this contract.
However, Dunn has been a remarkably consistent offensive performer, and he’s going to the American League version of heaven for flyball hitters. While it’s probably a bit more money than I would have paid, it’s pretty easy to see Dunn being successful in Chicago for at least the first half of this deal. It’s probably a bit of an overpay, but it’s one that has a decent chance of working out.
It’s the right move for the White Sox to make. Whether it’s correlated to questions about his conditioning, Jenks has proven to be injury-prone over the last few seasons. And he’s due for a raise off his $7.5 million 2010 salary. There aren’t many closers that are worth ~$9 million. Jenks isn’t one of them.
But here’s why letting Jenks go is dangerous: All his advanced numbers point in the direction of a rebound year in terms of results. …
As for Jenks, he now becomes one of the most interesting free agents available. With no free agent compensation required, teams will only part with money in order to sign him. The disagreement between Jenks’ earned run average (4.44) and peripheral-based run average metrics (2.59 FIP) might lead to a discount rate as well. This is a guy coming off a season with a career-low xFIP (2.62) who also had the worst strand rate (65.4%) and batting average on balls in play against (.368) of his six-year career.
Those last two are vital to his inflated ERA. It’s common baseball sense: the fewer runners you strand, the more runners you allow to score and the larger your ERA grows. How BABIP plays into an increased ERA is no philosophical issue either, as more hits have a tendency to mean more baserunners and more run-scoring opportunities. Given how the rest of Jenks’ career has played out, it seems safe – if not concrete – to say 2010’s hit and strand rates will become apparitions rather than telltale embodiment of Jenks’ abilities. …
UPDATE: Brett Ballantini @ CSN:
… Jenks has lost confidence in his deathly yakker, and must regain it to become an elite closer again. He threw it just 7.4% of the time in 2010, the lowest of his career—and often replacing it is his most hittable pitch, the slider.
And it’s not as if Jenks has lost his stuff, with a sweet K rate (10.42 K/9, second best of his career). His Fielder Independent Pitching (FIP, essentially an ERA-type figure taking fielders out of the equation) was as good as any in his career, at just 2.52. And his ground ball-to-fly ball ratio, which must be high to ensure success in a microwave like U.S. Cellular Field, was a career-best 2.80, indicating that Jenks, for all his woes, is keeping the ball down and mastering the ability to pitch in his tricky home park.
So a strong case can be made that Jenks is due for a strong, if not stellar, bounce-back season. Sabermeister Bill James envisions (not entirely because of but largely due to better luck, a BABIP trimmed to .307) a 32-save season and a 3.12 ERA.