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Athletics 2014 season review: Adam Dunn's last stand

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No playoff country for old men.
No playoff country for old men.
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

The Oakland Athletics platoon everything -- even jersey numbers. We looked at the first half of the No. 10 platoon with Daric Barton, who opened the season with the number. Adam Dunn picked up the mantle when he was acquired from the White Sox, after wearing No. 44 for most of his career.

Player profile

Name: Adam Dunn, aka Big Donkey
Position: DH
Stats: .212/.316/.318, 76 PAs, 2 HR, 1 2B, 6 BB, 27 Ks
WAR: 0.0 bWAR, negative-0.1 fWAR
How he got here: Acquired from Chicago White Sox on Aug. 31
2014 Salary: $15 million (full season)
2015 Status: Retired
2015 Salary: N/A

Season summary

There's not much to say about Adam Dunn, as his stint in Oakland was brief and unspectacular. He arrived with 460 career homers, and by the time he was done here that number had only risen to 462. He didn't come anywhere near his career batting line (.237/.364/.490), nor even his White Sox stats from 2014 (.220/.340/.433), but he at least had a couple of fun highlights as an Athletic at age 34.

The A's acquired Dunn from the White Sox on Aug. 31, the deadline for players to become eligible for the postseason roster. They gave up minor league reliever Nolan Sanburn to get him, so the price was low. The hope was that Dunn would inject life (and power) into a stagnant lineup.

It worked at first. The Big Donkey debuted for the A's on Labor Day, Sept. 1, against Chris Young and the Mariners. He homered in his very first at-bat for the A's, a mammoth two-run shot to give Oakland an early lead in an eventual 6-1 victory. The next day, with the A's down 6-0 in the eighth, he came off the bench to deliver an RBI pinch-hit single; the team followed his example and at least closed the deficit to 6-4 before the end of the game. The next day, he homered off of Felix Hernandez to give the A's a 1-0 lead, though Seattle eventually came back against Jon Lester. In his fourth game, he knocked another RBI single off of Houston's Brett Oberholtzer to push a lead to 3-1, but the Astros came back to beat Jeff Samardzija. Through his first four contests, he was 5-for-11 with two homers and five RBI, and he'd reached base twice more after being hit by pitches. The team had only gotten one win out of it, but it looked like they had their spark.

And then that was the end of it. Dunn went 9-for-55 the rest of the way, with only one more extra-base hit (a double) and five more RBI. He never donned a glove as an Athletic, serving strictly as a DH and pinch-hitter. When the A's made the Wild Card game, Dunn found himself on a postseason roster for the first time in his 14-year career. However, he didn't start that game, and although there were pinch-hitting opportunities late in the contest, the situation was never quite right to call on him and he ended up watching the whole game from the bench. With his retirement all but announced in advance, it proved to be a sad way to end an illustrious career as a premier slugger -- passed over in favor of Nick Punto.

It seemed inevitable that Dunn would wind up in Oakland at some point in his career, as he's just the kind of player Billy Beane likes to target -- great at something (power), but with plenty of flaws to mask his overall value (strikeouts, poor defense). He did have a couple of exciting moments in the green and gold, and I'm glad that we got to see him play, if only for a minute.

2014 season grade, relative to expectations: C- ... Note that I'm only grading his stint with the A's. He automatically gets a passing grade just for homering off of Felix, but it's hard to give him anything higher. He could have gotten a B by hitting two or three more homers, and he could have earned an A by catching fire and matching his career batting line (.854 OPS).

2014 season grade, overall: D ... From an outside perspective, Dunn was brought in to provide power and hit only two homers in a month. Nothing else in his .634 OPS picked up the slack for that lack of thump. Unfortunately, his time here can't be considered a success, but the homers he did hit prevented it from being a total failure.

Video highlights

Let's start with his homers. Here's the one from Labor Day, in his first Oakland at-bat.

And here he is taking Felix deep, which is always impressive no matter who does it.

The pinch-hit RBI single from his second game in Oakland.

And one more big hit, a two-run double against the Rangers to take an early lead.

Dunn talks about his first (and only) champagne celebration.

And Bob Melvin explains why he didn't call on the Big Donkey in the only postseason game of his career.

***

It would have been nice to see Dunn lead Oakland to glory in his swan song, but the A's were simply not meant to have nice things this year, or this century apparently. As it is, we merely got to see one of the best sluggers in history retire in our uniform, which is at least something. Thanks for giving it your best shot, Adam, and congrats on a fantastic playing career.