Hall of Famer, Adam Dunn?

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If you are anything like me, you like to spend a lot of time on Baseball-Reference. Some would say: “Too much time.” Those people who qualify as “some” would be my wife. But I disagree. Baseball-Reference is like having a friend. A very smart friend. You need to make time for those friends. And I do.

Anyway, back to perusing on Baseball-Reference.

Yesterday, I stumbled across this tweet. Let that roll around in your mouth for a little bit. Let it sit on your tongue. Really taste it. Now, look at this list:

Rk Player HR
1 Barry Bonds 762
2 Hank Aaron 755
3 Babe Ruth 714
4 Willie Mays 660
5 Alex Rodriguez 651
6 Ken Griffey 630
7 Jim Thome 612
8 Sammy Sosa 609
9 Frank Robinson 586
10 Mark McGwire 583
11 Harmon Killebrew 573
12 Rafael Palmeiro 569
13 Reggie Jackson 563
14 Manny Ramirez 555
15 Mike Schmidt 548
16 Mickey Mantle 536
17 Jimmie Foxx 534
18 Frank Thomas 521
19 Willie McCovey 521
20 Ted Williams 521
21 Ernie Banks 512
22 Eddie Mathews 512
23 Mel Ott 511
24 Gary Sheffield 509
25 Eddie Murray 504
Rk Player HR

That’s a pretty impressive list even when you account for the 10 players on that list who are either active, not eligible for the Hall of Fame or suspected to having used steroids or HGH. And Adam Dunn is only 64 home runs away from joining that list, and 69 home runs from passing Eddie Murray. Which brings me to the question: Is Adam Dunn a future Hall of Famer?

The snap answer: Not just no, but Hell no. Why would anybody even ask that? But then, here is an abbreviated list of players that Adam Dunn is rated as being similar to through his age-32 season according to Baseball-Reference:

Harmon Killebrew

Reggie Jackson

Ralph Kiner

For the entire list, go here.

But we aren’t going to sit here and compare Dunn to those three Hall of Famers. Any possible similarity would immediately be negated by the fact that, by age-32, the lowest bWAR total among the three is Harmon Killebrew’s 43.3. Through age 32, Dunn had a bWAR of 16.7. Through his age-33 season (this season) his bWAR total is…16.7. And considering he should be a permanent DH from this point on in his career, I would not expect that number to creep up any higher. This is the career path for a power hitter who has the defensive range of a parking meter.

But none of that changes the number, “500.” And at 33 years old, there is always room on a team for a left handed hitter with thunder in his bat. And with Dunn averaging 38 home runs per 162 games, it would take him two seasons to reach the 500 home run milestone. And then, what if he keeps playing? What if he goes all Jim Thome on baseball and keeps getting at bats into his 40’s? What if he gets to 600 home runs? Do they have a wing in Cooperstown for Three True Outcome players?

It shouldn’t surprise me if, in the future, Adam Dunn gains induction into the Hall of Fame. There plenty of uninspiring inductees that adorn the halls of Cooperstown (I’m looking at you, Jim Rice). And if Jack Morris keeps drawing support, he would be another. Even though Dunn will have an enormous amount of home runs upon retiring, his inclusion would be met with a very, “Really? That guy?” reaction. I guess our (my) only hope is that the old guard of Hall of Fame voters has been phased out by then, and a slew of new voters who are not afraid to quote a players wOBA have taken their place. Because, if that doesn’t happen, there stands a very good chance that we will one day be saying: “Adam Dunn, Hall of Famer.” And that simply cannot happen.

  • FlashinLeather

    My initial reaction to Dunn in the HOF is NO! And if I had a vote, I would not vote for him. However, if Ozzie Smith can get in, all bets are off. I hate to pick on Ozzie because I don’t have anything personal against him. I just don’t think he should have EVER been considered for the HOF. I always thought the HOF was for the Best of the Best but Ozzie Smith’s induction has changed that. As far as I can tell, the only thing that made him eligible was that he did back flips. I don’t care how well you flash leather, if you only hit .262 with almost ZERO power, you’re not a Hall of Famer. This is a long winded way of saying, why not Dunn.

    • Anthony Neubert

      Because the hall of fame isn’t only about hitting. It is about the effectiveness of the player to help his team. Dunn has a RAA of -80… that means he is worse than an average player. Ozzie Smith had great deffense and was able to move the base paths with speed. His RAA was 379. You don’t have to be a genius to see that 379 is a lot better than -80. Dunn is a liability. O.Smith wasn’t.

      Dunn also was only 6 PA shy of having the officially the lowest single season BA in the last 100 years in 2011. If you gave him those PA appearances and he had gotten hits in those 6 at bats he still would have the lowest. How can someone with that distinction and with no other redeamable values be considered a Hall Of Famer?

      Anyone who thinks Ozzie Smith isn’t a HOFer doesn’t know how to look the full picture of a player’s value to a team.

  • Joe McHugh

    I was pondering on this very question when I stumbled across this article that says basically exactly what I was thinking. However, I think it’s almost impossible for a guy who we’ve never heard so much as a whisper about PED use, with this much power, to not get into the hall of fame. Dunn definitely has the potential to creep into the 600 HR range at his current pace. I think low WAR or not it’s impossible to keep a clean man with 600 home runs out of the Hall of Fame. When the likes of Kirby Puckett, Ozzie Smith, and Bill Mazeroski are in the Hall I’m sure that Dunn belongs there too. Although, the BBWAA has found a way to keep out Lee Smith and kept Bert Blyleven waiting nearly 15 years for induction so consistency is not necessarily their specialty. Take, for example, the case of John Franco. When comparing his stats to Bruce Sutter one could certainly make the case for either of them as the better pitcher; however, one (Franco) was knocked off the ballot in his first year of eligibility while the other (Sutter) was elected in his 13th year of eligibility. Fair? No. Sensible? Certainly not. But so the Hall of Fame voting process trudges on in this archaic manner for what seems like eternity.

  • FR2011

    Getting it Dunn.

    Year after year.

    Clean, too.

    He’s getting in if he has the HR’s.

  • BaronDucreux

    If Dunn could hit .250 for his career I would say yes.
    Right now his career avg is .236
    No Way

  • Dan Ronan

    Sorry Peter, if Adam Dunn finishes with 525-575 HR’s and it’s entirely possible, he deserves to be in the HOF. I’m so tired of you so called sportswriting, “Guardians of the Game” standing in front of what many deserving ballplayers have earned. It is a blatant conflict of interest for the Baseball Writers to be picking members to the HOF Why not have political writers pick the people elected to office? Dunn is a slugger and sluggers have their place. He is excelling in his particular area of baseball. Is he an all around ballplayer, no. Defensively he is a liability, but can he hit for power, yes. If Dunn gets to 525-575 he is in. And yes, I believe Fred McGriff deserves to be in too.