I was actually kind of scared. Here are his top 10:
- Ron Kittle. Out of the majors by age 33; last productive season at age 31 as a part-timer.
- Pat Burrell. Still in the majors at age 30 playing for Philadelphia. In just as much hot water as Dunn, and much more expensive.
- Jim Gentile. Out of the majors by age 32; last productive season at age 30.
- Henry Rodriguez. Out of the majors by age 34; last productive season at age 31.
- Nate Colbert. Out of the majors by age 30; last productive season at age 27.
- Tony Conigliaro. Out of the majors by age 30; last productive season at age 25. Conigliaro isn't a good comparison, because he suffered a traumatic injury that nearly robbed him of his eyesight.
- John Jaha. Out of the majors by age 35; last productive season at age 33.
- J.D. Drew. Just signed a big contract with Boston at age 31.
- Nick Esasky. Out of the majors by age 30; last productive season at age 29.
- Bo Jackson. Out of the majors by age 31; last productive season at age 27. Bo did have those football injuries, but his offensive profile suggests that it wasn't just the knees that did him in.
Adam Dunn just completed his age 26 season. If you look at every batter in history just through their age 26 season, his most similar player is Darryl Strawberry. I guess that's good news, since Straw stayed in baseball through age 37, but he took a very ugly detour on the way.
Dunn's other most similar players through age 26? Other guys who fell off a cliff after age 30: Jose Canseco, Tom Brunansky, Roger Maris, Conigliaro, Boog Powell. Active player Troy Glaus is also on the list. The only promising guys on this list are Reggie Jackson and Harmon Killebrew.
So on these two lists, Adam Dunn has covered -- I'm not joking -- almost every one-year wonder and post-30 burnout of the post-War era. You couldn't compile a better who's who of flameouts. (BTW, Dunn's most comparable player through age 23? Pete Incaviglia, last productive season at age 26).
In all honesty, I really like Adam Dunn. I love that he still keeps bopping home runs even though the Reds don't like his strikeouts. And he's still got plenty of time at age 27.
But how troubling is it that of all the top 10 most similar players to Dunn -- nobody played a game in the majors after age 35. I'm not saying that nobody was good after age 35 -- I'm saying that they were gone by age 35; they'd already gone through their decline phase and were either sitting at home or back in the minors.
The average player on that list had his list productive season at around age 30. So unless the Reds trade Dunn to another team, I personally would recommend re-signing him to a 3- or 4-year deal and then dropping him as fast as they can. And if I were Adam, I'd live it up right now. Which he probably is.