Introducing… Shawon Dunston

The fact that Shawon Dunston never won a Gold Glove Award isn’t a judgment of his defensive capabilities–he was a flashy shortstop with the arm of a flame-throwing closer–but a statement of fate’s mad design.  You see, Shawon played in the era of Ozzie Smith, and the Wizard of Oz had a stranglehold on the award.  Had Ozzie played in the American League, Dunston surely would have won a Gold Glove Award or two.

The first overall pick in the 1982 draft, the Cubs brought their farm system’s crown jewel up to the majors in 1985.  As a rookie, the 22-year-old Dunston learned the position from a couple fine veteran shortstops on the roster named Larry Bowa and Chris Speier.  In 1986, the starting shortstop gig was all Shawon’s.  He smacked 37 doubles (third in the NL and tops among all shortstops) while pacing National League shortstops in homeruns and RBI.  If Shawon had a weakness in his game, it was his plate discipline which kept his on-base percentages low.

Looking to build off a good ’86 season, Dunston missed a portion of the 1987 season to injury.  Healthy again in ’88, Shawon was named to his first All-Star team and swiped 30 bases while tallying 455 assists on the field.  His fine play in 1989 led the Cubs to an NL East flag and in the NLCS Shawon hit Giants pitching at a .316 clip but in a losing cause. 

Dunston made his second All-Star team in 1990 by swatting 17 homeruns.  He was the lone National League shortstop to reach double digits in the long ball department.  He clubbed a dozen homeruns in 1991 before the injury bug sublet a room in his apartment complex.  The Chicago shortstop played in 18 games in 1992 and just seven games in 1993.  Finally healthy again in 1994, Shawon’s season, as well as everyone else’s for that matter, was cut short courtesy the player’s strike.  Shawon nevertheless hit .274 in the truncated campaign. 

Shawon had his best year to date for batting average in 1995 when he hit .296 and slugged at a respectable .472 clip.  His 69 RBI were tops among National League shortstops and he was still fielding his position at a fielding percentage just above league average.  But after the ’95 season Shawon was granted free agency and left the Cubs for the Giants of San Francisco.  From then on, Dunston saw more lands than Sinbad on his journeys, becoming a Major League nomad.

After a year in California Shawon returned to the Cubs via free agency in 1997 but at the end of the season he was dealt to the Pirates.  Dunston gave the Buccos a shot in the arm by hitting .394 with five homeruns and 16 RBI in just 18 games.  Given his red-hot performance at the end of the year, the Cleveland Indians signed Shawon as a free agent for the 1998 season.  In 1999 he split the season with the Cardinals and Mets.

Used as a supersub by the Cardinals in 2000, Shawon blasted a dozen homeruns in a limited capacity.  He went 3-for-7 in that years postseason but the Redbirds were denied the World Series by an NLCS loss to the Mets.  Shawon exited the game on his terms.  In his last year, with the 2002 Giants, Shawon finally made his World Series appearance and clubbed a homerun in the Fall Classic.


G 1,814/R 736/H 1,597/2B 292/3B 62/HR 150/RBI 668/BB 203/SO 1,000/SB 212/BA .269/SA .416

1 comment
  1. brettkiser said:

    A flashy defender who had an arm that rivalled Billy Wagner’s, Dunston had his strengths but he had his weaknesses also. His strikeout-to-walk ratio is abysmal and his on-base percentage is laughably low. He did have some speed and modest pop, but he has a weak hits-per-game ratio as well. His negatives outweigh his positives, so Shawon is an incredible stretch for the HOF.

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