Is there any reason to expect Adam Dunn to recover?
This question struck me because
1. Adam Dunn got thrown back-t0-back starts this weekend.
2. Adam Dunn was 0-4 with a strikeout Friday night
3. Strangely enough, with their budget constraints, getting substantial contributions from Adam Dunn is one of the few potential sources of offensive improvement for the White Sox in 2012
If that sounds bad, it's because it is. Instead of relying on a great slugger to snap out of a season-long slump, they'll be counting on a player who's had a very good career to bounce back from one of the worst seasons of all time.
With no real experience with watching Dunn, and writers I trust not seeing anything drastically different in his mechanics, we're left to fall back on his results: Adam Dunn has been horrible covering the fastball this season, after making a career of pounding the pitch. Seriously, a whole darn career.
While Dunn's pitch values on everything off-speed has fluctuated, he's habitually piled up production on heaters every year till 2011. On any broadcast, you can catch shots of Dunn waving helplessly through fastballs down the middle, but his contact rate have actually remained the same while his foul ball rate has been the thing that's spiked.
He can't make solid contact on anything with pace, offering two possibilities - he's having an unprecedented season-long slump in terms of timing, or as an enormous 31 year-old man, he's lost bat speed and is stretching to compensate.
Everything about Dunn's 2011 has screamed 'uniquely terrible', but there's not a huge reason to believe the former scenario beyond how unimaginable it is for Dunn to have such a sudden drop-off, and how disastrous it would be for the White Sox if the worst was true.
It's damn hard to rack up -3 WAR without some very real decline taking place.
He could make adjustments to compensate for his diminished skills to become a player that doesn't need to be immediately removed from professional baseball, but suffice it to say he's likely made his last bid for an All-Star team.
This isn't meant to be the definitive primer on Dunn, but given the speculating-on-the-roster theme that September has brought, there's just no way the White Sox can bank on him being a regular in 2012. "Oh, he'll bounce back" doesn't pass for player evaluation
While actually keeping Quentin might make for the best team, failing that I would suggest the most magical phrase in the English language: "Brent Lillibridge DH-platoon".