A Hall Of Fame Case: Adam Dunn

Posted by Noah Wright on

By: Noah Wright


Adam Dunn is without a doubt one of the most interesting players in the history of the MLB. Some of his stats make him standout, but this upcoming winter, Dunn will make his debut on the Hall of Fame Ballot. Will he have enough to make it into immortality, or will he be a one and done player on the ballot?

Why He Will Make It:

Dunn was no doubt a big time slugger in his prime. In total, Dunn slammed 462 long balls. Dunn is tied for the 37th spot on the all time home run list along with Jose Canseco. Dunn also has an impressive .490 slugging percentage. That’s tied with current Hall Of Famers Reggie Jackson, Larry Dolby, all-star second baseman Robinson Cano, and top level fielding third baseman Scott Rolen. In his career, Dunn walked 1317 times, which is tied for 47th all time with Mark McGwire. While Dunn’s 124 OPS+ might not rank high on the leaderboard, it is tied with Hall Of Famer Enos Slaughter, and higher Roy Campanella, Tim Raines, and Ernie Banks. A similar overall offensive comparison to Dunn is Reggie Jackson. In his career, Jackson batted for an overall line of .262/.356/.490. Dunn’s overall career line is .237/.364/.490. In Dunn’s prime (which I would consider between 20014 and 2010), Dunn batted .253/.381/.533 with 282 home runs, and a 136 OPS+. Dunn made it to 2 all-star games (2002, 2012), received 4th place in Rookie Of The Year voting in 2001, and received MVP voting in 2004, 2005, and 2010. 

Why He Won’t Make It:

Dunn was so bad at defense in his career, it was almost laughable. One of the best examples of this is 2009. Dunn may have batted .267/.398/.529, hit 38 home runs, and finished in the top 15 of wRC+, but despite this, his bWAR was -.4 because his dWAR was -5.2, and had -43 DRS between both corner outfield spots, and first base. Dunn’s career -28.9 dWAR is almost the complete mirror of one of the best defensive infielders of all time, Bobby Wallace. In his career, he has -167 DRS between left field, first base, and right field. That’s still higher than Derek Jeter’s -156 all time DRS at shortstop. Had Dunn not played DH mainly for the later part of his career, his career defensive numbers would probably would have been lower. Dunn is also the owner of one of the worst baseball seasons of all-time. In 2011, Dunn batted a putrid .156/.292/.277 with just 11 home runs and a 54 OPS+ in 496 PA’s. This, plus his -1.2 dWAR put Dunn at a -2.8 bWAR for the 2011 season. 

The Verdict:

If we were electing based on offense alone, he would make it. However if we are still taking into account defense, Dunn likely won’t see the Hall Of Fame. He’s one of the worst defenders, not just at a certain position, but of all positions of all time. That can’t just be ignored. I just don’t see Dunn making it. He might stay on the ballot a few years, but he definitely will fall off eventually.

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