For two months of the fantasy baseball season, I preached patience with struggling players as I do every season, while various readers, observers and listeners wanted to know when enough was enough. Hey, I'm a loyal guy to the statistics and reliability of veteran players, and I am well aware of how many times Chicago White Sox first baseman/designated hitter Adam Dunn has hit 38 or more home runs (every year since 2004!), but … this is it for me. I'm basically giving the big fella one more week to turn things around. That's all.
Dunn is struggling mightily, to be sure. But this week Dunn and his colleagues play a full week of home games -- as surely you know from reading Tristan H. ****croft's helpful Fantasy Forecaster -- and I'm somewhat optimistic we'll start to see better numbers from him.
AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast
Adam Dunn was picked, on average, 37th overall in ESPN live drafts prior to the season.
Let's put how bad Dunn's 2011 season has been in perspective and have a little fun at the same time. With that, here are my top five most amazing Adam Dunn stats so far, with commentary.
1. Entering Monday, Dunn was actually the No. 2 Dunn on the ESPN Player Rater. Florida Marlins reliever Mike Dunn, with four wins, 33 strikeouts and usable peripherals, slides in at No. 251. Adam Dunn has been so awful that he's at No. 608, just after Brayan Pena, Trever Miller and Ryota Igarashi. Look, that's got to change, if for no other reason than Mike Dunn can't keep winning at this rate!
2. Dunn's .179 batting average ranks 174th out of 175 qualifiers for the batting title. Only Dan Uggla has been worse. Then again, Uggla has two more home runs than Dunn and plays second base, so we can be a bit more forgiving. (Perhaps in a week or two I'll be writing a similar blog as this one but featuring Uggla!) I doubt Adam Dunn will hit .179 all season, but to reach last year's respectable .260, , assuming another 350 at-bats or so, he'd need to get hits in 101 of those 350 at-bats, which is a .288 batting average. I'm doubtful that will happen.
3. Nobody in baseball has more strikeouts than Dunn. This in itself really isn't surprising, but the guy Dunn is tied with, Cincinnati Reds outfielder Drew Stubbs, has 63 more at-bats as well as three more home runs, 17 more stolen bases and a batting average that is 84 points higher. For the record, Dunn has finished second, fourth and seventh in whiffs the past three seasons but remained productive all the while. Stubbs, meanwhile, is a top-20 fantasy player. The strikeouts can be overcome.
4. Dunn has been awful versus lefty pitchers. Remember Adam Lind's line against left-handed pitching in 2010? Lind "hit" .117 against southpaws but kept being used against them anyway. Well, Dunn just got his first hit off a lefty this past weekend when he smacked Andrew Oliver's offering. … OK, so he topped it to first base and beat out an infield single. That is Dunn's lone hit off a left-handed pitcher this season in 42 at-bats. If you're scoring at home, that's a .024 batting average. Thanks to the walks, his OPS against lefties is .204. Now, an .042 batting average on balls in play isn't helping, but still, this is hard to believe (and unlikely to continue).
Then again, it's not as though the lefty-hitting Dunn is torching right-handers, either. Dunn enters Monday hitting .225 against them with a .401 slugging percentage. And if you think it's an automatic that his batting average will rise, note that he has a respectable .342 BABIP!
5. Check out his home/road splits. Knowing Dunn had a full week of home games pending, I assumed good times were ahead. Then I dug a little deeper. At hitter-friendly (especially for home runs) U.S. Cellular Field, Dunn is hitting .123 with only three of his 15 extra-base hits and two of his five home runs. Dunn has been better on the road. A low home BABIP of .189 isn't helping, but strikeouts in nearly half his at-bats (35 in 73 at-bats) can make a BABIP irrelevant, too.
So what does all this mean? Well, to me, these statistics don't offer much hope that Dunn is going to have a breakout week at home, in part because the Oakland Athletics and Seattle Mariners rank second and sixth, respectively, in ERA this season, and the White Sox are scheduled to face three left-handers. Frankly, I don't know how much longer manager Ozzie Guillen can keep using Dunn against southpaws; spunky Brent Lillibridge bats right-handed and has seven home runs already (but I wouldn't expect that to continue). Really, Guillen should sit Dunn against lefties. His .750 OPS against right-handers isn't awful; it actually ranks better than the OPSes of teammates Gordon Beckham, A.J. Pierzynski, Alex Rios, Brent Morel and Juan Pierre.
On Monday's Fantasy Focus podcast, I asked Baseball Tonight's Tim Kurkjian about Dunn, and he told a story about how his former Washington Nationals teammates knew that Dunn hated being the designated hitter. In truth, Dunn is hitting .103 as the Chicago first baseman and .190 as the DH. Either way, it's not impressive, but perhaps there's a mental hurdle Dunn needs to overcome, and then he'll start producing. Hey, we're all reaching for reasons here.
I have Dunn in two leagues, one weekly and one daily, and I'll be leaving him active this week in the former and doing the same against only right-handed pitchers in the latter. Dunn is one of the pre-eminent power hitters of the past seven seasons, averaging 40 home runs, 101 RBIs and hitting .253 in that span. Only Albert Pujols has more home runs since 2004 began. I think Dunn still can hit 20 more home runs, or roughly five per month. He's done it many times. I think he can be respectable against lefties and perhaps hit .250 the rest of the way. His walk rate against all pitchers remains strong. (He's tied for seventh in baseball in walks.) I know it's June, but I don't think Adam is officially done yet.
But talk to me in a week.