September 6, 2014; Oakland, CA, USA; Oakland Athletics designated hitter Adam Dunn (10) prepares to bat during the fourth inning against the Houston Astros at O.co Coliseum. The Athletics defeated the Astros 4-3. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
Quick: who stands atop the Cincinnati Reds’ chart for career OPS, posting a gaudy .950 in 952 games?
OK, you got me: it’s current Red Joey Votto. But (probably) retiring slugger Adam Dunn comes in third, with an even .900 OPS over 1087 games with Cincinnati. That big number is just one reason why Dunn belongs in the Reds’ Hall of Fame.
If slugger Adam Dunn does indeed hang up his spikes following the Oakland A’s extra-innings drop from the postseason on Tuesday, then 2014 was a fitting cap to one of the more unusual big league careers we have seen.
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Dunn landed on the Riverfront in 2001 and immediately flashed the power that would later define him, but he also had a solid all-around season. At just 21, Dunn played in only 66 games but managed 19 home runs, 43 RBI and four stolen bases to go along with a .262 batting average, allowing him to finish fourth in the National League Rookie of the Year vote.
Dunn was going to be part of a young Reds nucleus that included Austin Kearns and was poised to team with veteran superstar Ken Griffey, Jr., to carry Cincy back to baseball royalty, but their collective trajectory fizzled.
Dunn turned out to be the rare bird who was at 21 essentially the player he would be at 25 and 30 and, really, as he approached 35.
The batting average never went up, only down.
The spurts of speed dried up as he got older.
He became old and sluggish, if still sluggerish.
What remained nearly constant were the plate discipline and power, which allowed him to consistently hit 40+ homers while approaching a .400 OBP nearly every season, despite a career batting average that fell and fell and fell, leaving him at .237 at the end of 2014.
Oh, and the strikeouts! Dunn’s 2379 whiffs leave him in third place all-time, behind only Reggie Jackson and Jim Thome. With his hit-or-miss propensities, is it any wonder that Baseball-Reference.com maps Dunn’s career mostly closely to that of Dave Kingman?
Still, for all his one-dimensionality and reputation as a rigid, fragile slugger, Dunn is an indelible part of Reds history, albeit during the Dark Ages of the 2000s. He was arguably the best that the Reds offered their fans from 2001 until he left town in 2008, and for that, he belongs in the team’s Hall of Fame.