NEW YORK — If this is his last game with the Nationals, Adam Dunn certainly isn't approaching it with any added emotion. The soon-to-be-free agent was his usual self in the clubhouse this morning, joking around with everyone, setting his fantasy football roster and generally avoiding any thoughts about where he'll be playing next year.
"I'm looking at this like it's the last game of the season, like I'd treat any one," he said.
Dunn wouldn't make any predictions or answer hypothetical scenarios about his future, but he did perhaps shed some light about one factor he'll take into consideration this fall when deciding where to sign: The prospect of winning.
Dunn has never played in the postseason, has never actually played for a winning team. He currently ranks 61st among all active position players in games played (1,448 today) and if the Giants make it to the playoffs, only one guy ahead of him on the list (Randy Winn: 1,716) will have never made it to the postseason.
"That's why you play the game, to get to the postseason," Dunn said. "There's a lot of good players who haven't been to the postseason. I don't want to be one of those guys at the end their careers who will be in that category."
Which isn't to say Dunn doesn't believe that can happen in Washington. He strongly believes the Nationals have the core group of players needed to build a championship-caliber club. They just need to fill in the gaps.
"There's obviously some things that we need to get us up to the Phillies, the Braves and all those guys," he said. "As far as the nucleus of the team, I think anyone would like to have that."
Personally, Dunn was both pleased and disappointed with his performance this season. His final offensive numbers are going to look almost exactly like they did every other season in his career. He enters today's game with 38 homers, 103 RBI, a .260 average, a .357 on-base percentage and a .538 slugging percentage. Only his OBP is down significantly from his career average of .381, in part because of a conscious effort to take less pitches and look to drive the ball instead of drawing walks in situations with men on base.
The other consistent number in Dunn's stat line is the number of games played: 158. This will be the seventh straight season in which he's played at least 152 games. He's never been on the DL, something he takes pride in.
"I like playing," he said. "I don't like sitting on the bench. I realize there are times you need breathers. I just like playing."
Jim Riggleman said that record of durability absolutely should be taken into consideration when the Nationals talk contracts with Dunn. The manager also gave a pretty strong endorsement for re-signing the first baseman, likening him to another great Washington slugger from his youth.
"You know, I grew up in the area, and I think what Adam Dunn [has done] in two years is what Frank Howard did for his [seven-year] stint in Washington," Riggleman said. "He's that guy who comes to the plate and might hit one out at any time. There's a great excitement that comes with that. It spurs interest. It wins ballgames. ...
"You understand going in — just like we understood going in that Ian Desmond's probably going to make 30 errors this year and it's going to get better — we understand Adam Dunn is going to strike out. But we knew Frank Howard was going to strike out, too.
"But now it's in other people's hands. It's not necessarily just going to be in Adam's hands. It's going to be in agents' hands and Mike [Rizzo] and the Lerners' hands. Whatever the decision is, it will be in the long run the best for the Nationals."