Dunn would be perfect fit at Wrigley

October, 14, 2010
10/14/10
11:36
AM CT
Levine By Bruce Levine
ESPNChicago.com
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[+] EnlargeAdam Dunn
Warren Wimmer/Icon SMIAdam Dunn is tied with Albert Pujols for the most home runs by an opponent at Wrigley Field with 25.
After hiring a new manager in the next couple of weeks, the Chicago Cubs will concentrate their effort on filling the void of first baseman Derrek Lee.

Free-agent first baseman Adam Dunn is the top priority for the Cubs. Dunn, who will be 31 on Nov. 9, is a left-handed power hitter who has averaged over 40 home runs and 100 RBIs since 2004. An even more important stat on Dunn is that over that seven-year period, he's only missed 26 games, for an average of just over three per season.

Dunn's career OPS -- a combination of on-base percentage and slugging -- is an impressive .902. The Cubs' need for a left-handed power bat has been a weakness for years.

Wrigley Field is the toughest park for a left-handed pull hitter to hit home runs. Two of the main reasons for that is that the longest foul poles are at Wrigley: 353 feet down the right-field line, which is incredibly long for any ball pulled that dramatically. Secondly, the wind out of the east is the most prevalent deterrent for left-handed pull hitters. Only a handful of left-handed hitters have done well at Wrigley. Billy Williams, a line-drive hitter, used the whole park to master his stroke.

Dunn's power, however, most likely would negate those deterrents.

Dunn's 25 home runs at Wrigley ties him with Albert Pujols for the most by any active opponent. Career wise, he has 41 home runs against the Cubs, which is second to Pujols' 47 for active players. The 25 home runs have come in 66 games at Wrigley.

A solid clubhouse guy as well as a team-leader type, Dunn is a well-liked individual.

The downside starts with 199 strikeouts in 2010, which was the second-most in baseball. His career average is .250. His strikeout stats indicated he strikes out one out of every three at-bats. The good news is his .358 on-base percentage is way above the league average, which is right around .330.

Two other negatives include Dunn's fielding at first, where he had 13 errors. That's way below average. And the range factor, where again he comes up short.

One other deterrent is his slowness, which makes him somewhat of a base-clogger.

He's coming off a two-year, $20 million contract. An MLB source told ESPNChicago that he would consider the Cubs to be one of his top choices. Cubs general manger Jim Hendry has a personal friendship with Dunn. The Nationals tried unsuccessfully to sign him to a deal before the season ended. Washington has exclusive negotiating rights with Dunn until five days after the World Series, when he automatically becomes a free agent.

Cubs players such as Carlos Zambrano and Marlon Byrd came out strong in support of Dunn during the final days of the Cubs' season.

On Friday, we'll look at other alternatives at first.

Bruce Levine | email

Chicago baseball beat reporter
Bruce Levine has covered sports in Chicago for over 28 years and hosts "Talkin' Baseball," heard Saturday mornings on ESPN 1000.

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TEAM LEADERS

BA LEADER
Starlin Castro
BA HR RBI R
.292 14 65 58
OTHER LEADERS
HRA. Rizzo 32
RBIA. Rizzo 78
RA. Rizzo 89
OPSA. Rizzo .913
WJ. Arrieta 10
ERAT. Wood 5.03
SOJ. Arrieta 167