Adam Dunn: The Future Mr. 3000?
There are many hitters in baseball who people would call “all or nothing” type hitters, and one of the first players that come to mind when that statement is made, is Adam Dunn. Dunn is a prime example of one of the baseball intricacies known as the “Three True Outcomes,” which consist of either a walk, strikeout, or home run – basically, plays not involving the defense. Dunn has shown power throughout his 12 years and change career, averaging 38 home runs a year while consistently driving in 90 or more runs. Now, he’s never hit for a high average, with his career high coming in 2009 of .267, and his career high in hits in 151. With a career total of 1,438 hits, how could Adam Dunn become a future “Mr. 3000” when he’s no where close to even 2,000? Well, I’m not talking about 3,000 hits here. I’m talking about 3,000 strikeouts.
As this article is being written, Adam Dunn currently sits at 2,072 career strikeouts, which slots him in fourth place all time behind Sammy Sosa (2,306), Jim Thome (2,548), and the all-time leader, Reggie Jackson (2,597). The biggest thing one should notice, however, is the time frame in which these hitters racked up their strikeouts. Sosa amounted his high total over 18 seasons, Thome in 22, and Jackson in 21. Alex Rodriguez is currently fifth on the list, with 2,032, and his amount accrued over 19 seasons. The other 2,000 strikeout man is Andres Galarraga, who also took 19 years to amount his 2,003 strikeouts. Of the six players on the list, Adam Dunn, who passed the dubious milestone last season, his 12th, reached 2,000 punch-outs the fastest (Jackson in his 17th, Thome his 15th, Sosa his 16th, Rodriguez just last year in his 19th, and Galarraga reached it in his 18th).
To give a perspective, Dunn is averaging 192 strikeouts per year. Jackson averaged 149, Thome averaged 162, Sosa 159, A-Rod at 130, and Galarraga punched out an average of 144 times a season.
As of right now, Dunn is currently in the middle of a 4 year, $56,000,000 deal that expires after the 2014 season. After 2014, there is the possibility that nobody picks up the big slugger, given that he is a defensive liability, and his skills at the plate appear to be deteriorating, outside of a bit of his power (currently with six home runs through 30 games). Dunn struggled mightily in his first American League season, when he hit career lows of .159 with 11 home runs and 42 runs driven in. In 2012, Dunn bounced back with the power, hitting 41 homers and driving in 96, leading the league in walks with 105, and strikeouts with 222, which came two shy of setting the all-time single season record currently held by Mark Reynolds (223 in 2009). The possibility of Dunn not playing elsewhere following his contract would guarantee him not reaching this potential milestone. He may also be spared the title of “All-Time Strikeout King,” currently held by Jackson.
However, let us assume Dunn signs elsewhere or gets extended/re-signed, for some reason, by the White Sox after the 2014 season. To firstly pass Jackson, let’s say Dunn continues his average of 192 strikeouts per year. That would put him on pace to break the record very late into the 2015 season, with 2,607 whiffs. If he’s still playing by 2018, and still averaging 192 strikeouts, he’d pass the 3,000 mark in April of that year, which would be his 18th season. It will definitely be interesting to follow this and see if Dunn is given a shot to reach this “illustrious” milestone. To give readers an idea, if Adam Dunn happened to be a pitcher going after his 3,000th strikeout, he’d be the 17th pitcher to do it, as opposed to becoming the first hitter to do so.
On a side note, as mentioned previously, Mark Reynolds has the most strikeouts in a single season with his 223 in the 2009 campaign, and he is averaging 20 strikeouts more than Adam Dunn is per season (212), and is another proponent of the “Three True Outcomes” law, as he averages 35 homers a year along with a respectable 77 walks along with those 212 strikeouts. As it stands, Reynolds is just in the beginning of his 7th season, and has already surpassed 1,100 strikeouts. At this pace, he would break Dunn’s mark of fastest to the 2,000 mark by passing it in his 11th year (which would be 2017), and if the pace remains the same of 212 strikeouts per year on average, it would only take Reynolds 15 seasons to pass 3,000 strikeouts (2021). Definitely another interesting player to follow for this particular achievement.