Summing up another losing season for Adam Dunn
As soon as the regular season ends today and melds into the playoffs, Nationals first baseman Adam Dunn will creep closer to an ignominious title: the active player who has played the most regular season games without making one playoff appearance.
Dunn will play in his 1,448th game today. With Michael Young (1,507 games) and Mike Sweeney (1,453) headed to the playoffs with the Rangers and Phillies and Aubrey Huff (1,478) likely to make the postseason with the Giants, Dunn could move into second place on an undesirable list, behind only Randy Winn (1,716 games).
Dunn has never played on a winning team, and his 651-795 record in games which he's played equates to a 72-win season pace. Dunn's individual performance has made him one of the best sluggers in baseball, but his dearth of team success gnaws at him.
"That's why you play the game, to get to the postseason," Dunn said. "There's a lot of good players who haven't been to the postseason. I don't want to be one of those guys at the end their careers who will be in that category."
If and when Dunn makes the postseason, it may or may not be with the Nationals. Dunn, a free agent this offseason, could play his final game as National today. Manager Jim Riggleman weighed in on Dunn's legacy in Washington after two seasons - but only after reiterating his opinion that Dunn will remain a National.
"First of all, I don't think it is going to be" his last game, Riggleman said. "You know, I grew up in the area. And I think what Adam Dunn [has done] in two years is what Frank Howard did for his stint in Washington. He's that guy who comes to the plate and might hit one out at any time. There's a great excitement that comes with that. It spurs interest. It wins ballgames. We understand Adam Dunn is going to strike out. But we knew Frank Howard was going to strike out, too."
Dunn would not speculate about his future ("I don't have that answer") and said he did not have any special feelings about this game ("I'm looking at this like it's the last game of the season, like I'd treat any one.") But he did reflect on his season.
Dunn produced offensive numbers almost exactly in line with his career averages: .260 batting average, .357 on-base percentage, .538 slugging percentage, 38 home runs, 36 doubles (a career-best), 198 strikeouts (also a career-high).
"There was some good things in there, and there was a lot of bad stuff," Dunn said. "I haven't really sat down and assessed anything. I feel like this year, I could have been a lot better."
The most consistent thing about Dunn, one of the most consistent players in baseball, is how often he simply takes the field. Dunn, who's never been on the disabled list, will play in his 158th game of the year today. He's fought a nagging left hamstring for about a month ("I wouldn't call it an injury," Dunn said) but has still led the Nationals in games played. Since 2004, Dunn has played in more games than anyone in the majors.
"I like playing," Dunn said. "I don't like sitting on the bench. I realize there are times you need breathers. I just like playing."
Said Riggleman: "He's a 150-162 game guy. It's had to find those guys in baseball. It's hard to find guys who play 155 games a year. He comes out there ready to play every day."
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