Adam Dunn is enjoying a spectacular bounce-back season from his nightmarish 2011 campaign. Presently, he is on pace for 58 HR, 132 RBI, 127 BB … and 252 Ks. He is also very likely to pass the 400 HR, 1000 RBI and 2000 K career thresholds in this, his 12th major league season.

After the jump, I’ll take a look at some similar sluggers (could be hard to find), and consider the implications of an all-or-nothing approach to hitting.

So, here’s where Adam currently stands for his career. As you can see, barring injury, all of the milestones I mentioned are clearly in view for later this season. What’s more, as we’ll discover, Dunn has a chance at becoming the first player ever to reach 400 HR before reaching 1000 RBI.

Rk Player PA HR RBI From To Age G AB R H 2B 3B BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS Pos Tm
5 Adam Dunn 6837 388 974 2001 2012 21-32 1634 5613 942 1363 292 10 1115 1909 .243 .374 .506 .879 *73D9 CIN-TOT-WSN-CHW
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 6/16/2012.

Now, let’s look at other hitters to reach 400 HR and 1000 RBIs in their first twelve seasons. The fastest, season-wise, to reach these plateaus was Albert Pujols. Here are his totals after his 10th season.

Rk Player PA HR RBI From To Age G AB R H 2B 3B BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS Pos Tm
1 Albert Pujols 6782 408 1230 2001 2010 21-30 1558 5733 1186 1900 426 15 914 646 .331 .426 .624 1.050 *37/59D64 STL
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 6/16/2012.

No other player reached these plateaus in his first eleven seasons (Ken Griffey came closest with 398 HR), so here are players to do this through 12 seasons.

Rk Player PA HR RBI From To Age G AB R H 2B 3B BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS Pos Tm
1 Alex Rodriguez 7100 429 1226 1994 2005 18-29 1592 6195 1245 1901 338 25 730 1265 .307 .385 .577 .962 *65/D SEA-TEX-NYY
2 Mickey Mantle 7199 404 1152 1951 1962 19-30 1675 5896 1340 1821 256 67 1251 1214 .309 .429 .581 1.009 *89/6475 NYY
3 Ken Griffey 7319 438 1270 1989 2000 19-30 1680 6352 1163 1883 342 33 841 1101 .296 .380 .568 .948 *8/D379 SEA-CIN
4 Willie Mays 7337 406 1179 1951 1963 20-32 1691 6458 1258 2033 333 106 791 750 .315 .389 .588 .976 *8/6 NYG-SFG
5 Frank Robinson 7651 403 1225 1956 1967 20-31 1786 6582 1248 2004 375 59 856 963 .304 .392 .563 .955 9738/5 CIN-BAL
6 Eddie Mathews 7799 422 1166 1952 1963 20-31 1792 6549 1220 1834 275 65 1155 1095 .280 .387 .535 .922 *5/73 BSN-MLN
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 6/16/2012.

What’s notable about this group is that 400 HR is the tough nut to crack – most have cruised past 1000 RBI well before reaching the 400 HR plateau. So, is there anyone who has reached this dual milestone in the same season?

Rk Player PA HR RBI From To Age G AB R H 2B 3B BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS Pos Tm
1 Mark McGwire 6314 457 1130 1986 1998 22-34 1535 5131 941 1353 219 5 1052 1259 .264 .391 .576 .967 *3/D59 OAK-TOT-STL
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 6/16/2012.

That’s it. McGwire also has the distinction of getting to 400 HR in the fewest PAs.

Mark McGwire cumulative career totals through career game #1412

G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB IBB SO HBP SH SF GDP SB CS BA OBP SLG OPS
1412 5781 4728 835 1234 206 5 400 1023 930 43 1141 57 3 63 117 10 8 .261 .384 .560 .945

McGwire got to 400 HR about a full season (over 550 PA) sooner than anyone else. Harmon Killebrew is second, reaching that plateau at PA 6335.

The only other players to come close to reaching 400 HR and 1000 RBI in the same season are these guys.

Rk Player PA HR RBI From To Age G AB R H 2B 3B BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS Pos Tm
1 Harmon Killebrew 6262 397 1008 1954 1968 18-32 1533 5239 885 1367 189 17 938 1154 .261 .374 .531 .905 357/49 WSH-MIN
2 Dave Kingman 6159 377 1025 1971 1984 22-35 1639 5524 765 1316 205 25 513 1576 .238 .305 .489 .795 375D9/1 SFG-NYM-TOT-CHC-OAK
3 Willie McCovey 6564 384 1090 1959 1972 21-34 1712 5536 933 1547 237 40 911 1017 .279 .384 .545 .929 *37/9 SFG
4 Jim Thome 6421 381 1058 1991 2003 20-32 1536 5218 1028 1486 289 23 1108 1559 .285 .411 .568 .979 *35D CLE-PHI
5 Mike Schmidt 6892 389 1074 1972 1983 22-33 1638 5663 1068 1496 269 48 1086 1427 .264 .384 .535 .918 *5/643 PHI
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 6/16/2012.

Notice a theme? These players are all noted for making every swing with the apparent intention of trying to knock the ball out of the park. Not surprisingly, all struck out a lot. Problem, though, is nobody ever drove in a run by striking out.

These are the players with careers of 400 or more HR and RBI < 3 * HR.

Rk Player SO HR RBI G PA AB R H 2B 3B BB BA OBP SLG OPS Pos Tm
1 Jim Thome 2502 607 1687 2506 10182 8306 1573 2300 446 26 1732 .277 .403 .556 .959 3D5 CLE-CHW-TOT-MIN-PHI
2 Sammy Sosa 2306 609 1667 2354 9896 8813 1475 2408 379 45 929 .273 .344 .534 .878 *98D/7 TOT-CHW-CHC-BAL-TEX
3 Mike Schmidt 1883 548 1595 2404 10062 8352 1506 2234 408 59 1507 .267 .380 .527 .908 *53/64 PHI
4 Dave Kingman 1816 442 1210 1941 7429 6677 901 1575 240 25 608 .236 .302 .478 .780 37D59/1 SFG-NYM-TOT-CHC-OAK
5 Ken Griffey 1779 630 1836 2671 11304 9801 1662 2781 524 38 1312 .284 .370 .538 .907 *89D/73 SEA-CIN-TOT
6 Mickey Mantle 1710 536 1509 2401 9907 8102 1676 2415 344 72 1733 .298 .421 .557 .977 *8397/645 NYY
7 Andruw Jones 1709 426 1268 2137 8496 7454 1187 1907 378 36 874 .256 .339 .488 .826 *89D/73 ATL-LAD-TEX-CHW-NYY
8 Harmon Killebrew 1699 573 1584 2435 9833 8147 1283 2086 290 24 1559 .256 .376 .509 .884 357D/49 WSH-MIN-KCR
9 Mark McGwire 1596 583 1414 1874 7660 6187 1167 1626 252 6 1317 .263 .394 .588 .982 *3/D54967 OAK-TOT-STL
10 Willie McCovey 1550 521 1555 2588 9692 8197 1229 2211 353 46 1345 .270 .374 .515 .889 *37/9D SFG-SDP-TOT
11 Barry Bonds 1539 762 1996 2986 12606 9847 2227 2935 601 77 2558 .298 .444 .607 1.051 *78/D9 PIT-SFG
12 Willie Mays 1526 660 1903 2992 12496 10881 2062 3283 523 140 1464 .302 .384 .557 .941 *8/39675 NYG-SFG-TOT-NYM
13 Eddie Mathews 1487 512 1453 2391 10100 8537 1509 2315 354 72 1444 .271 .376 .509 .885 *53/7 BSN-MLN-ATL-TOT-DET
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 6/16/2012.

Definitely lots of free swingers here. Here are some comparative stats.

CountRBI to HR ratioSO per ABSO per PABB per PA
400+ HR, RBI < 3*HR132.7921.1%17.8%14.2%
400+ HR, RBI >= 3*HR353.3715.6%13.4%14.2%
Adam Dunn12.5134.0%27.9%16.3%

 

I think you’ll agree that Adam Dunn is truly in a class of his own. Dunn’s current RBI to HR ratio is lower than all other players at the time of reaching the 400/1000 plateau. Among career marks for these players, only Mark McGwire has a lower RBI to HR ratio of 2.43.

Interestingly, the 400 HR club is pretty consistent in terms of walk frequency. But, there’s a big difference in driving in runs between the higher strikeout and lower strikeout groups. Of course, this isn’t really a surprise. However, the conventional thinking in this era of ever increasing strikeout rates runs something like this:

  • 1 – Lots of strikeouts are okay if the hitter hits lots of home runs
  • 2 – Lots of home runs are good because home runs score lots of other runs as well
  • 3 – More runs = more wins

Can’t argue with any of that, except that as point 1 becomes more pronounced, point 2 becomes less so. And, if point 2 is less pronounced, then so to is point 3. Just something to consider in evaluating today’s sluggers.

 

 

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