Donkey of the Month

Donkey of the Month
Dunn, seen here scrambling Rios' brains // Jose M. Osorio, Tribune photo

Last May, Adam Dunn hit .204/.356/.387 for the month.  He was still striking out a ton, but the walks were there, and with 11 extra-base hits--the power was starting to come back.  You know, or so we thought.

It wound up being the best things ever got, and it was still pretty cruddy production for a DH.

This April, Dunn's blatantly had the best month of his White Sox career.  Even though there's only been 3 1/2 weeks of baseball, Dunn's topped his previous White Sox high watermark for extra-base hits (5 HRs, 7 doubles), and boasts a .231/.368/.513 batting line.  Those last two number are pretty great.

Why, it's a new year; everyone's feeling great!

"It wasn't the same people who saw us last year, and we're not obviously the same guys that they saw last year. Thank God," said Dunn.

Yes, thank God.  Well said, Adam.

It's not the greatest stretch Dunn's ever had, but it's right in line with what could have been expected from him through his early 30's.  It beats the hell out of 2010 Mark Kotsay, the player he was originally brought in to improve upon, and in light of last year, it feels like stealing.  He's on a 37 HR pace, he's on a 118 walk pace.  We should take this production and run, just run...to Mexico, perhaps.  I hear that's a safe place to live while hording valuable assets.

It's a bit of a surprise to see Dunn doing so well.  He strikes out so much it's hard to ever get a sense thst he's feeling it.  We were forewarned about his strikeouts, but when things are going wrong, a quick diagnosis of Dunn is that he's striking out too much.

Well, right now, Adam Dunn is striking out too much.

He's whiffed a league leading 34 times in the 95 plate appearances, which is a hellish 35.8% of the time, which is almost exactly the same as last season.  He's doing something the same as last season?!  Maybe it's not a new year!  Panic!!!!!!

The .231 average is at the low-end of what he usually sported during his prime, but one can argue that there's been some luck on balls in play just to maintain that.  Dunn has a .333 average on balls in play right now, whereas his career average is .292.  He can be expected--but not guaranteed--to finish closer to the latter

On the other hand, two-thirds of Dunn's hit have been extra-bases, so it could be argued that he's earned his hits by throttling the ball, which is the important part of what he's doing anyway.

Dunn works the count so much that his strikeouts will always outpace his contact rate--which is merely awful, and not on a record-setting pace--but his habit of walking once for every two strikeouts mediates how far he can fall, even if he really strikes out 250 times like he's threatening to.  It takes about  150 plate appearances till strikeout rates become reliable, but Dunn's career-low contact rate could already be here to stay.

As I was starting to get to, it's a worthwhile trade to get his power back.  Dunn's swing-and-misses on four-seam fastballs is down 4% from last year (just look at the top row on that link), which forces pitchers to use their breaking stuff more.  That's a recipe for more walks, and also a longer at-bats, which helps everyone on this swing-from-the-shoes outfit.    He's clearly punishing what he does get a hold of again, as his isolated power score--while still too small of a sample to rely on--is right back at his career marks.

So while it might be necessary to temper some of the excitement of Dunn producing like his old self because the strikeouts are going to take their toll, Adam at least figures to be someone Robin Ventura can play...in good conscience, even.

 

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  • In March 2011, they said that Dunn was going to be like Babe Ruth and strike out a lot, but was going to produce the power numbers.

    If Dunn keeps doing what he did in April 2012, I don't think people will complain. The focus is on Bacon and Mushroom not producing at the plate.*

    It seems like you have also introduced one of the new statistics that Len and Bob were pushing on Sunday. I've got the feeling that pretty soon baseball will only be understood by nuclear physicists, who aren't interested anyway.

    __________
    *Pun unintended, but it seems to work.

  • In reply to jack:

    Which statistic? I throw out a lot. I'd be happy to explain any of them, and try my best to make it fun.

    If you're referring to isolated power, it's just (Slugging percentage minus batting average). The purpose of it is to determine how much of the player's slugging is coming from extra-base hits. A player who hits .400 and slugs .400 is clearly hitting nothing but singles, where as a player who hits .200 and slugs .400 is hitting the ball a lot harder when he gets hits.

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