Sunday, October 12, 2014

Dunn Done

Dunn's swan song saw him hit .219 and blast 22 home runs (RantSports)
Adam Dunn, the pre-eminent three-true outcome hitter of our time, is calling it a career. His contract is up, and so is his time in the Show.

The 34 year-old slugger has hit his last home run, drawn his last free pass, and struck out for the final time. Those events comprised nearly half of Dunn's career--49.93 percent of his plate appearances, to be exact. With 2,379 whiffs, Dunn retires as the active leader in strikeouts and ranks third on the all-time list, behind only Jim Thome and Reggie Jackson. Four times Dunn led the major leagues in strikeouts, most recently with a career-high of 222 in 2012--one short of Mark Reynolds'dubious record.

At least Dunn's whopping strikeout figures were accompanied by impressive power totals. His .253 ISO is exceptional--18th-highest among players with at least 8,000 plate appearances (better than Harmon Killebrew, Hank Aaron, and Willie McCovey)--and his 462 round-trippers were exceeded only by Albert Pujols and Alex Rodriguez during Dunn's playing days. He's tied with Jose Canseco, Dunn's second most similar batter, for 35th all-time. And while Dunn never led the league in big flies, he topped 40 on six occasions, same as Willie Mays, Mark McGwire, Thome, and Pujols. Pretty prestigious company. If he had just managed two more home runs in 2009 and 2010, when he finished each season with 38, he'd trail only Babe Ruth in 40-homer seasons.

Although Dunn struck out too much and was too slow to hit for high averages (he peaked at .267 and settled at .237 for his career), he made up for his lack of hits with high walk totals. From Dunn's first game to his last, nobody worked more walks. In fact, no one was within 150 of him. He reached triple digits eight times in his career, leading the bigs twice. Accordingly, his career .364 OBP is very good, 28 points above what a league average hitter would have been expected to produce in the same parks.

Despite walking and striking out so much, Dunn still managed to drive in tons of runs. The two-time All-Star had six seasons where he knocked in more than 100 and two others with over 90. Pretty good for a guy who only once eclipsed 150 hits in a season.

The great tragedy of Adam Dunn's career is that he just seemed to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. He was in Cincinnati during the Ken Griffey, Jr. era, which didn't end well for anybody. He spent two seasons with Washington when they were terrible, just missing their recent rise to dominance. Then he signed a backloaded four-year, $56 million contract with the Chicago White Sox after his age-30 season. It would be the last big league deal he'd ever sign.

This year, with the White Sox once again going nowhere, he was granted a trade to the Oakland A's at the end of August, just in time to experience their mega-collapse. The A's backed into the postseason, giving Dunn his first crack at playoff baseball after 2,001 regular season games. Oakland promptly lost the Wild Card playoff to Kansas City in heartbreaking fashion, 9-8 in 12 innings. Dunn never left the bench, ending his career without ever having batted in the postseason. That was pretty hard to do considering he played for five teams across 14 seasons of the Wild Card era.

If Dunn had gotten into that game, though, we have a pretty good idea of how his at-bat would have transpired. He might have gone deep. He could have walked. He probably would have struck out.

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