Dunn nominated for Hank Aaron Award
Left fielder has been the Reds' most productive hitter
By William S. Hupp / MLB.com
CINCINNATI -- It hasn't mattered where Adam Dunn has hit in the batting order this season.
The Reds left fielder has batted second, fourth, fifth and sixth in the lineup, yet has given Cincinnati the same offensive production he has always offered: a high on-base and slugging percentage to go with big home run, and RBI totals.
And for his efforts, Dunn has been selected as the Reds' nominee for the eighth-annual Hank Aaron Award.
Since 1999, the 25th anniversary of Aaron breaking Babe Ruth's all-time home run record, Major League Baseball has recognized the best offensive performer from each league with the Hank Aaron Award presented by CENTURY 21.
Past recipients include Barry Bonds (three times), Alex Rodriguez (three times), Manny Ramirez (twice), Albert Pujols, Todd Helton, Sammy Sosa and Carlos Delgado.
Last year's winners, selected during balloting in the regular season's final month on MLB.com, were Boston's David Ortiz and Atlanta's Andruw Jones.
As of August 1, the 26-year-old Dunn has batted .263, and leads the team with 31 homers and 71 RBIs. All of this coming while teams have used the "Dunn deployment," a unique shift of all four infielders on the left-side, three on the dirt and one positioned 20 feet onto the outfield grass.
In addition, Dunn has continued to show remarkable durability and consistency. He leads the team in games played (104 of 105) and walks (third in the NL with 79).
Dunn is on pace for his third-straight season of 40 homers, 100 RBIs and 100 runs scored. He is one of only two Reds in history (along with Joe Morgan) to produce 100 walks, 100 runs, and 100 RBIs in a single season. Morgan did it during his second-consecutive MVP season in 1976. Barring injury, Dunn appears to be on his way to accomplishing the feat for a third time.
The left-handed hitting slugger has even shown he has a flair for the dramatic. Dunn provided perhaps the most exciting moment of the 2006 season when he lined a walk-off grand slam inside the right-field foul pole to complete an improbable nine-run comeback, and help the Reds beat the Indians on June 30, 9-8.
Even with his impressive offensive production, however, criticisms still remain. Many people deride Dunn for his poor defensive play in left field (team-high nine errors among outfielders), and his high strikeout rate (first in the NL with 118).
"Next spring, go to guys and ask them: 'Would you take 100 RBIs, 100 runs scored and 40 home runs and a .380 on-base percentage?,'" Reds manager Jerry Narron said. "And see how many [of them] turn it down."
William S. Hupp is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.