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Adam Dunn almost certain to hit 500 homers but iffy for 600

CHICAGO IL - JULY 28: Adam Dunn #32 Chicago White Sox hits home run against Kansas City Royals during sixth

CHICAGO, IL - JULY 28: Adam Dunn #32 of the Chicago White Sox hits a home run against the Kansas City Royals during the sixth inning on July 28, 2013 at U.S. Cellular Field in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by David Banks/Getty Images)

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Updated: March 25, 2014 11:13PM

With a new season just about to open, it’s fun to play with milestone numbers. Who’s on track for 500 career home runs or 3,000 career hits? Can anyone approach Barry Bonds’ 762 home runs, Hank Aaron’s 2,297 RBI or Pete Rose’s 4,256 hits?

We can track that with Bill James’ ‘‘my favorite toy’’ formula, which takes into account a player’s age, performance level and distance from the milestone.

When we checked in on such calculations a year ago, White Sox slugger Adam Dunn was listed in the annual ‘‘Bill James Handbook’’ as having a 91 percent chance of reaching 500 homers and a 29 percent chance of reaching 600. After hitting 34 last season to push his career total to 440, he has improved his chances to 95 percent of reaching 500 and to 41 percent of reaching 600.

His 11-homer season of 2011 was pushed another year into the past, and this toy gives greater weight to the most recent seasons. Dunn’s 34 homers in 2013 are multiplied by three, his 41 in 2012 are multiplied by two and his 11 in 2011 are counted just once. The resulting total of 195 then is divided by six, leaving him with an established level of 32.5 homers per season.

His age as of last June 30 — 33 — is subtracted from 42, and the result is divided by two for an estimate of 4.5 remaining seasons. Multiplying 32.5 homers by 4.5 years yields a projection of 146 remaining homers. Subtract from that half of the 160 he needs to reach 600. Divide the resulting 66 by the 160 needed. Multiply the resulting .41 by 100 to convert to percent, and Dunn has a 41 percent chance of reaching 600 homers.

If the result is more than
100 percent, a limiter kicks in. Nothing is ever certain until it happens, so Dunn is listed with a
95 percent chance of reaching 500 homers. In his case, playing time will be an issue, with newcomer Jose Abreu and Paul Konerko in the mix at first base and designated hitter.

Konerko, who hit only 12 homers in his age-37 season and has 434 in his career, plummeted from a
65 percent chance of reaching 500 homers to a 25 percent chance.

Cubs shortstop Starlin Castro, who at 23 had 163 hits after seasons of 207 and 183, fell from a 24 percent chance to reach 3,000 hits to a
21 percent chance and from a
3 percent chance to reach 4,000 hits to less than 1 percent.

The king of the milestone chasers is the Tigers’ Miguel Cabrera, who has a 13 percent chance at the home-run record,
a 19 percent chance at the RBI
mark and 2 percent chance at the hits record.

None of this is a prediction that Dunn, Konerko, Castro or Cabrera will or won’t. Performances rise and fall, injuries happen and players decline and lose playing time. It’s more an expectation that if there were 100 players of Dunn’s age with his home-run history, about 41 would reach 600 homers.

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