Five Guys (Through Age 28)
Five sluggers through age 28
Who are they?
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.
February 2, 2009; 12:18 PM ET
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