Better yet, the last three Dunn blasts have all come against lefties, which brightens up a batting line that otherwise suggests that his struggles against same-handed pitchers is something that may have indeed carried over from 2011.
I was distinctly pessimistic about the chances for a return to form for Dunn, but looking back it seems I hedged my bets better than I remember.
"[Referring to Dunn's 2011] So maybe it was a fluke. A combination of bad mojo, bad luck, a horrible clubhouse, a rough adjustment to the DH slot, too much pressure, bad conditioning, and just a little bit of physical decline combining into one ferocious all-time fireball of doom."
There's some protection against the possibility of a Dunn resurgence, but that's all it was. His strikeouts are still higher than his career-norm, but he's cranking fastballs again to very far away places, and that was unexpected.
One Scout Said...
John Perroto of Baseball Prospectus got an anonymous scout's take on Dunn, and it's about what you would expect:
"He looks a lot more locked in this season. He looked distracted all last season. I don't know if there was something going on beyond the field, but he never looked like his heart was into it. This year, he's having good at-bats again, and it is showing in the production. He's the old Adam Dunn, and I'm glad because he's a good man."
Personal issues are the go-to cause to cite when there's an inexplicable isolated funk in a player's history, but there's the paradox that such matters are not fit for exploration.
How much credit does Manto get?
Rob Neyer of SB Nation explores how much credit should be given to hitting coach Jeff Manto for Dunn's renaissance. As could be expected, Dunn is overflowing with praise for the tactics that have been employed throughout this stretch, particularly a drill that requires Dunn to keep a medicine ball locked between his legs during swings, in order to prevent lunging.
It's a sound tactic, but Neyer also points out that Manto is in the right place at the right time.
"I will not exactly question the efficacy of the medicine-ball drill. But I do suspect that Dunn would have bounced back this season without it, simply because he'd always been a good hitter before 2011. Of course, one might argue that when a hitter is historically terrible, as Dunn was in 2011, perhaps whatever came before is less meaningful than usual."
Every hitting coach success story is bound to include how the hitter was at a moment in his career where he was uniquely open to instruction. That's certainly was the case with Paul Konerko and Greg Walker, and Gordon Beckham's probably a lot more game to listen to Manto about his bat path now than he would be in 2009.
Timing is everything, and if the AL Central sticks to being a mediocre race to 90 wins, Dunn coming around will be worth the wait.