Three weeks ago, our old friend Adam Dunn was traded from the White Sox to the Oakland Athletics, in exchange for minor league pitcher Nolan Sanburn and cash. Those of us who remember Dunn fondly from his time with the Reds were pleased. He’ll finally get a chance to play in the playoffs for the first time!, we thought. (Followed quickly with a deep sigh, and a I wish he coulda made the playoffs as a Red….)
Dunner, in typical Big Donkey fashion, promptly homered in his first game for Oakland, his 20th of the season to that point. His presence hasn’t exactly stopped the near-complete collapse that we’ve seen from the A’s, but at least Oakland still holds a slight lead for the first American League Wild Card spot. So there’s a decent chance that Dunn will actually play in the post-season for the first time in his fascinating 14-year major league career.
In the wake of Dunn’s trade to Oakland, the big guy made a little news with the report that he was leaning toward retiring after this season:
“This is probably going to be it,” said Dunn, who doesn’t think he can be talked out of his retirement plan. “I’ve been playing a long time and haven’t got this opportunity, so I’m going to try to make the most of it.”
Given that news, it seems like a good opportunity to look back at Dunn’s career with the Reds. This is, of course, the latest installment in my continuing crusade to attempt to get Cincinnati fans to reevaluate Adam Dunn’s career since he left the club. Yes, Reds fans, you may be surprised to learn that Dunn was actually good!
Let’s begin here: Dunn has 462 career homers; that total is 35th on the all-time list, ahead of such luminaries as Carl Yastrzemski, Andrew Dawson, Cal Ripken, Johnny Bench, and Todd Zeile. (On second thought, one of those may not have actually been inducted into the Hall of Fame.) As noted by Jayson Stark, Dunn is one of only nine players in baseball history to hit 40+ homers in five consecutive seasons. And what about this:
If youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re not into round numbers, youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ll be delighted to know that Dunn also once had a streak of seven straight seasons with 38 homers or more. You know who else had a seven-year streak of 38-plus? That Babe Ruth guy again (from 1926-32). The only longer streak — ever — is nine, by Rafael Palmeiro.
Even better, Dunn is the only player in baseball history to have 38+ homers and 100+ walks in six straight seasons. Ever. (He’s also the only player in history to strike out 140 or more times in 12 different seasons, too. Dunn is a man of many parts.)
Now, let’s take a break here to say this: I’m not trying to tell you that Adam Dunn is a Hall of Famer. He’s not. I think he’s pretty clearly a slam-dunk candidate for the Reds Hall of Fame, but I’m not saying he’s a baseball legend. I just think he’s been more productive than most of you think he was.
Let’s talk solely about Dunn’s career with the Cincinnati Reds. As you may remember, Dunn played for the Reds for the first 7.5 years of his career, beginning way back in 2001. He played 1087 games for the Redlegs, hitting .247/.380/.520 with 270 homers and 646 RBI. His adjusted OPS+ was 130, and Dunn also hit eight triples, if you’re interested.
Did you know that Dunn ranks first on the all-time Reds franchise list in two categories (among players who played at least 1000 games for the club)? It’s true. Dunn ranks #1 in both height and weight, according to Baseball-Reference.com. You could look it up!
Okay, let’s look at some of the more relevant statistical categories. For example, Dunn’s 270 homers ranks fourth on Cincinnati’s all-time list, behind Bench, Frank Robinson, and Tony Perez. Yes, while you were whining and complaining because Dunn wasn’t good enough for you when he was here, he hit more homers than every person who ever played for the Reds, other than the three Hall of Famers mentioned above.
Sure, the Reds were completely awful from 2001 to 2008, when Dunn plied his trade for the hometown nine. I know Cincinnati fans have always loved blaming the Reds’ struggles during those years on Adam Dunn and Junior Griffey. Doesn’t it make more sense to blame the bad players on those teams? Yes, I’m looking at all you pitchers from those years, such as Jimmy Haynes, Ramon Ortiz, Elizardo Ramirez, and Brandon Claussen.
Never mind all that, for a moment anyway. Let’s get back to what Dunn actually did on the field for your favorite National League baseball club. (The Reds. I’m talking about the Cincinnati Reds. They are your favorite team, remember?) Here’s the Reds all-time franchise top ten in home runs:
1. Johnny Bench 389
2. Frank Robinson 324
3. Tony Perez 287
4. Adam Dunn 270
5. Ted Kluszewski 251
6. George Foster 244
7. Ken Griffey, Sr. 210
8. Eric Davis 203
9. Barry Larkin 198
10. Vada Pinson 186
All Reds legends. Every single one of them. But a certain segment of Reds fans don’t like Dunn. I don’t get it. (Actually, I do, but I’m going to pretend otherwise.)
Let’s look at some other categories. On-base percentage, for example: Dunn’s .380 OBP as a Red is the third-best mark in franchise history (among players who played at least 1000 games with the club), behind Joe Morgan (.415) and Frank Robinson (.389). In slugging percentage, Dunn (.520) ranks second only to Robinson’s .554 (both ahead of Foster, Klu, Bench, and Perez). As you may have already guessed, Robinson and Dunn are 1-2 in OPS on the all-time Reds list.
–Dunn (755) is fifth on the franchise list for most walks (behind Rose, Larkin, Bench, and Morgan).
–He’s fifth in OPS+ (behind Robinson, Morgan, Foster, and Edd Roush).
–Dunn has the best ISO (a measure of a hitterÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s raw power) in Reds history, ahead of Robinson, Foster, Kluszewski.
–Dunn is 16th in franchise history in RBI, and 20th in wins above replacement.
No, it’s not all sunshine and roses and balloons and puppy dogs and apple pie. Dunn struck out 1212 times as a Red. His defense was, ummm…less than stellar. The Reds never finished higher than third place while he was here. He wasn’t perfect.
But look at those numbers I mentioned above. Sure, Dunn largely played in a high-offense era while with the Reds, but it’s hard to argue that he wasn’t one of the most productive hitters ever to play in the Queen City. Isn’t that something? Isn’t that enough to make you rethink your Marty Brennaman-fueled dislike for Dunn? Isn’t that enough to make you forgive the guy for whatever perceived grievances you have against him as a devoted fan of the Cincinnati Reds National League Baseball Club, and just root for him to have a long run in the 2014 playoffs?
If it isn’t, I kinda feel sorry for you as a baseball fan and a Reds fan. Dunn is one of the most interesting characters in all of baseball. What a fun career. His teammates, without exception, have loved him at every stop along the way in his career, from Cincinnati to Arizona to Washington to Chicago. He hits home runs, he walks, he strikes out, he goes to the Academy Award ceremony.
He’s my favorite player in all of baseball, and I refuse to apologize for that. I hope that it is true that he is wavering on whether or not he will retire. I’d love to see him make a run at 500 home runs. Either way, I’ll continue to sport Dunn as my Twitter avatar.
However, if I haven’t yet convinced you to root for the big guy for the rest of his career, I leave you with this. It’s perhaps the finest moment of Dunn’s illustrious career; the time he called in to talk to Marty on the Banana Phone.
I present to you: Adam from Milwaukee.