Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Adam LaRoche - Washington Nationals 1B in 2011?

Antonelli/New York Daily News

Rumors out of Arizona are swirling that the Diamondbacks are planning to decline Adam LaRoche’s mutual option for 2011. LaRoche, a 1B, is likely to be one of the options Mike Rizzo and the brain trust look at to replace Adam Dunn next year. While many question Rizzo on letting Dunn walk, this article is written with the premise that Dunn will leave in 2011 and that the Nationals will need a new 1B. While I do not support Rizzo’s decision, life moves on, and so do the options that may 1B, next year.

Adam LaRoche is a 30 year old left handed First Basemen who spent six full years and parts of one more in the majors putting up remarkably consistent numbers. A career .271/.339/.488 hitter, LaRoche is neither a massive power hitter nor a skilled craftsman of strike zone judgment. What LaRoche is, though, is a hitter that will hold his own in the 4-5 spot and provide some defensive stability at a position, as misguided as it may be, that Mike Rizzo seems to think needs upgrading.


- LaRoche is what he is, he’s going to hit around .270, pop about 25 HR’s and give you close to 100 RBI’s.

- LaRoche stays healthy. In the last five years, LaRoche has played 145 games or more four times.

- LaRoche is adequate on the defensive side of things. While his career UZR is -15.9, his UZR/150 (measuring average defensive output over 150 games) is only -2.6. Not great, but passable.

- LaRoche is going to come cheap. By cheap, I mean less than $10 million a year. If there is anything Mike Rizzo values over defense, it’s saving money.


- LaRoche is not an ideal replacement for Dunn. If you add another bat to go with LaRoche, you may come out ahead, but a LaRoche for Dunn swap is a net loss for the Nationals.

- LaRoche does NOT hit in the first half of the year. He’s so bad; he might as well take the first half off. For his career LaRoche is a .252 hitter the first half of the year and a .295 hitter the second half.

- LaRoche is not a massive upgrade with the glove over Dunn. While Dunn carries a reputation as a bad fielder, the numbers do not support this (-3.3 UZR/150 in 2010). LaRoche is mediocre in the field, just like most 1B.


Adam LaRoche is a fine baseball player. He goes about his business without stirring the pot and gives an honest effort every game. He’s not going to be a superstar and most likely he’s not going to fall apart. As the only replacement for Adam Dunn, he does not offer the Nationals value; add in a bat or an extra arm thanks to his lower contract and the Nationals may end up a better team in 2011 by letting Dunn walk. One has to wonder though if General Manager Mike Rizzo is looking to make multiple moves this offseason, or if he’s content to stay the course and let what’s left of the young talent develop at the major league level.

Adam LaRoche is no Adam Dunn. My preference will always be to re-sign Dunn, but, if Rizzo is dead set against making that happen, LaRoche gets my endorsement as the best option available to fill Dunn’s considerable absence.

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