Adam Dunn and Big Homer/Big Strikeout Guys of Years Gone By
Adam Dunn belted his 14th home run this season on Sunday, clearly demonstrating he is over his nightmare 2011 season. He has struck out a league leading 60 times and also checks in with a batting average of .243. For his career, he has slugged nearly 400 home runs, whiffed almost 1,900 times and owns a career bating average of .243. He reminds me of many of the high power-high strikeout-low batting average guys from the 1980’s. These players never get confused with the greats of the game but for a while they were certainly feared because of the home run potential they possessed. In fairness to Dunn, he has had a much more prolific career than most if not all of them. For five consecutive seasons, he finished with 40 or more dingers and 100 RBI’s or more six times. In no particular order, here are some of my favorites from the go-go 80’s.
Gorman Thomas: “Stormin Gorman” led the American League in home runs twice with 45 in 1979 and 39 in 1982, the year of Milwaukee’s only World Series appearance. Two is also the number of times he led the AL in strikeouts with 175 in 1979 and 170 in 1980. While most people think of these types of players as lumbering First Basemen or Designated Hitters, Thomas was actually a pretty good Outfielder. He ranked in the top three in putouts by a Center Fielder four times and ranked fifth in assists in 1982 with nine. He finished his 13 year career with 268 home runs, 1,339 strikeouts and a .225 batting average.
Dave Kingman: Kong thrived for seven different teams over the course of his 16 year stay in the Bigs. He paced the National League in homers twice with 48 in 1979 and 37 in 1982. While his overall batting average was a paltry .236, he did hit .288 in 1979 while also leading the league in Slugging and OPS that season. 1979 would not have been complete unless he also led in K’s which he obliged, fanning 131 times. He also led the league in strikeouts two other times, 105 in strike-shortend 1981 and 155 in 1982. My favorite Kingman stat has nothing to do with hitting. In 1977, he became the only man to play for a team (Mets, Padres, Angels and Yankees) in all four divisions in a single season. The final numbers are an impressive 442 homers and a gigantic 1,816 strikeouts.
Steve Balboni: The Yankees sent “Bye Bye” to the Royals before the 1984 season for reliever Mike Armstrong. This was a classic George Steinbrenner bone-headed decision, one of many, trading young, promising talent for a middle-of-the-road player who does nothing in New York. Balboni immediately paid dividends for KC by launching 26 homers to go along with a healthy 139 whiffs. Although the career numbers are not as gaudy as Thomas and Kingman, he does own something the other two do not: a World Series ring. In 1985 he led the club in round-trippers with 36 and the rest of the American League in strikeouts with 166 as the Royals took home their only World Championship. Balboni eventually did play for the Yanks at least on a part-time basis in 1989 and 1990. The 1990 campaign was his last as a semi-regular player and in typical Bye Bye fashion he deposited 17 balls into the seats in only 301 plate appearances. Of course he also struck out 91 times and batted a robust .192.
I could spend all day reviewing the careers of these guys and men like Rob Deer, Pete Incaviglia and Tony Armas. If any of you can think of other players both past and present, I would love to hear about them.
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