Monday, April 11, 2005


April 11th, 1975

Todd Dunwody Born

A frequently neglected but extremely important element of player evolution is that anyone can accomplish anything in fifty at-bats and it is therefore foolish to draw wide conclusions. Right now, depending on the team you root for, there are anywhere from one to five people on the team (or at Triple-A) based on the fifty at-bats they put up in Spring Training. Anytime a GM or manager is thinking about making a move based on a player's last fifty at-bats rather than his entire history he should think of Todd Dunwoody.

Dunwoody was called up to the Marlins in 1997 and made his debut on May 10th. He would play regularly through the end of May when he was sent back down, only to be recalled on June 20th after which he played every day for a week and was sent back down to Triple-A and would not play in the majors again until 1998 when he was a regular for a terrible Marlins team. Happily for the sake of this exercise, in his time with Florida
, Dunwoody got exactly fifty-at bats. And in those fifty at-bats, Dunwoody hit pretty well: .260/.362/.500 with six extra-base hits (including two homers) and a perfect 2-for-2 in stolen bases. Playing in ample Pro Player Stadium, Dunwoody's numbers were good enough for a 128 OPS+.

I don't think Jim Leyland and Dave Dombrowski looked at Dunwoody's fifty at-bats from 1997 when they made their decision to use him regularly in centerfield in 1998--the dismantled Marlins had few options--but his performance in 1998 and 1999 and every other year of his career, much more clearly reflects Dunwoody's talent level then did his fifty at-bats in 1997. For the rest of his career, Dunwoody never managed an on-base percentage above .300 or a slugging percentage above .400, let alone .500. His OPS+ for the rest of his career never topped seventy-nine and he finished with a career total of just 63; he has not played in the majors since 2002.

Although people inside and out of baseball occasionally forget it, anyone can do anything in fifty at-bats. When they do forget it however, they should think of Todd Dunwoody in 1997.

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