MLB 2010: Can Adam Dunn Be a Competent First Baseman?

Matt David@@mattdavidkyCorrespondent IIMarch 29, 2010

JUPITER, FL - MARCH 10:  Second baseman Skip Schumaker #55 of the St Louis Cardinals slides back into first base as Adam Dunn #44 of the Washington Nationals takes the throw at Roger Dean Stadium on March 10, 2010 in Jupiter, Florida.  (Photo by Doug Benc/Getty Images)
Doug Benc/Getty Images

Listed below, are the points and counterpoints about whether Adam Dunn can be a competent defensive first baseman:

Point: Yes, he is athletic enough to make the transition.

Counterpoint: No, he hasn't shown the ability to play any position well and it isn't going to start now.

P: Well, he is a former major-college quarterback.

CP: The Texas Longhorns were in the process of moving him to tight end. He would have ended up on the defensive line when it was all said and done.

P: One thing he always could do pretty well was catch the ball.

CP: Isn't that the main job?

P: Yes, but he has shown to be pretty good at digging balls out of the dirt.

CP: He will need to make the routine plays consistently.

P: In the big leagues, that can mean a lot of different things.

CP: Expectations are high. You don't want to give away outs at first base.

P: High throws are not going to be a problem for Dunn.

CP: The dude is tall.

P: He will be pretty good at turning potential throwing errors into outs.

CP: There is so much more to playing first base than that, though.

P: I'm not suggesting that he will be Keith Hernandez out there.

CP: I think the Nationals would be happy if he does not embarrass himself.

P: He won't. How well he catches the throws outweighs how he fields bunts or snags shots down the line.

CP: He won't be doing a lot of snagging shots down the line. Dunn has mobility issues.

P: Given his size, that is expected. Dunn is one of the largest men in MLB history.

CP: He also has stone hands.

P: I don't think that is fair.

CP: His instincts at first base are poor. He doesn't give the impression that he belongs there.

He is working on all of these concerns this spring.

CP: His best spot is in left field where there are only 3 or 4 plays per game and no long throws to make.

He will have a hard time anyway. Big guys like Mo Vaughn, Cecil Fielder, Frank Thomas and Frank Howard generally don't play the field very well. I think he will be better than those guys were.

CP: You don't set the bar very high. I don't think putting Dunn in a spot where he has to touch the ball double digit times every game is a good idea.

P: Dunn has only played 1,431 innings at first. He has not had a lot of experience. As he gets that, he will improve.

CP: Defense is the new offense. Teams are less likely to sign defensive liabilities like Dunn.

P: I suspect you are right but if he ends up with the Nationals long-term, he won't be a liability.

CP: I predict he will be a designated hitter next year.

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