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Five Guys (Through Age 28)

Five sluggers through age 28

ABs....Runs...HR.....RBI.....BB....OPS
3871....699....278...672....797....899
3757....623....218...629....533....866
3903....662....252...733....580....879
3886....644....245...780....449....852
3427....573....272...670....806....904

Who are they?

Adam Dunn
Reggie Jackson
Darryl Strawberry
Jose Canseco
Harmon Killebrew

Most homer runs, runs and walks through age 28: Dunn.

Where are the Nationals?

The paradox continues. Why were the Nationals willing to offer Mark Teixeira approximately $180-million for nine years, but have not, apparently, been aggressive pursuers so far of Dunn who might accept a deal for little more than half that annual salary and for only a third as many years?

Adding to the oddity, the Nats can subtract $18.5-million in contracts which end after '09 for Austin Kearns ($8-million), Nick Johnson ($5.5-million) and Dmitri Young ($5-million). If difficult economic times continue, Washington has the flexibilty to add Dunn now and, as they choose, have a '10 payroll that is similar to or even lower than '09.

For comparison, Teixeira is four months younger than Dunn. His career numbers are: 3414 ABs, 566 runs, 203 homers, 676 RBI and a .919 OPS. Teixeira is a gold glove first baseman, but slow with 13 career stolen bases to Dunn's 59. Statistically (range factor), Dunn has average major league range in leftfield and at first base (128 career games).

Why is there such a large difference in public perception between the careers of Dunn and those with comparable statistics like Jackson, Strawberry, Canseco and Killebrew, who were all considered superstars at the same age? All of them struck out a lot. All had low career batting averages. Most were poor fielders.

One answer: Strawberry, Canseco and Jackson all played in the World Series when young and Killebrew was on pennant contenders. Thus, they all became famous. Strawberry and Canseco were Rookies of the Year. Through age 28, as listed in baseballreference.com, Jackson had finished 1st, 4th and 5th in MVP voting, Canseco 1st and 4th, Strawberry 2nd and 3rd and Killebrew 3rd and 4th.

Dunn has played for eight losing Reds teams and never finished in the top 25 in MVP. In 44 games late in '08, he played well for the 82-80 D'backs who missed the playoffs.

Note: there is little difference in these Five Guys careers through age 28, even after adjusting for offensive levels in different eras.

If Dunn stays healthy for a normal career span __with a statistical mid-point near age 30, like many players__ he projects to hit about 625 homers with more than 1,500 runs and 1500 RBI and an astronomical 1,800 walks. Hall of Fame numbers? Far from impossible.

By Thomas Boswell  |  February 2, 2009; 12:18 PM ET
 
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Comments

Tom,

You wrote:

"Strawberry, Canseco and Jackson all played in the World Series when young and Killebrew was on pennant contenders. Thus, they all became famous."

Perhaps that is the point - Dunn wonders what the chances are of reversing that trend while playing for the Nats.

I am hopeful, and you are hopeful. But he has plenty of reasons to be skeptical.

Posted by: wigi | February 2, 2009 3:42 PM | Report abuse

Because in the context of his era, Dunn isn't as dominate a slugger as those other guys were. Dunn has impressive numbers over the last 8 years, but so do any number of people.

The guys you're comparing him to are a lot more like Pujols than Dunn.

People stopped what they were doing to watch all those other guys because it was so far beyond what others were doing in their eras. Dunn's just another slugger in today's game.

And I'm saying this as someone who really thinks the Nats _should_ sign him.

Posted by: Uncle_Teddy | February 2, 2009 3:56 PM | Report abuse

I don't mind waiting - as long as the Nats get Dunn. Come July, I won't care whether he signed with the Nats in early December or mid-February. As long as he's signed.

Posted by: mab9 | February 2, 2009 4:22 PM | Report abuse

FWIW, Killebrew's team was not a pennant contender for quite a few years after he signed with them. (For his first seven years with the team, of course, it was the Washington Senators.)

Posted by: Hendo1 | February 2, 2009 5:03 PM | Report abuse

Hendo:

But he played among a much smaller pool of players, and there were a lot fewer amazing bats then...

Posted by: wigi | February 2, 2009 6:07 PM | Report abuse

As a big Reds fan, let me tell you about Adam Dunn.
Every single month for every single season this is how he will hit:
1 week: 4 to 8 HR's, 5 to 15 RBI's, .350 AVG or higher. Team goes 5-2 or 6-1 and everyone, including me says "wow", what a great hitter.
Weeks 2-4: 0-1 HR, 0-3 RBI's, .150 AVG or lower. Team goes 6-15 to 8-13. Dunn will stike out EVERY single time during those 3 weeks when there are runners in scoring postion and less then 2 outs. Overall you have good stats for Dunn, but a below average team. That is what every team sees, and that is why no one has signed him yet.

Posted by: Iowahoosier | February 4, 2009 8:47 AM | Report abuse

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