In a cuckoo-crazy development as summer madness descends on this city, the White Sox have not been the very worst offense in the American League during the still-young month of June. That honor belongs to the Indians, and even the Astros are behind the Sox after getting shutout Tuesday night.
You can probably thank Adam Dunn for the righteous infusion* of offense, since he’s hit .293/.420/.707 this month with five home runs after another blast Tuesday night and just a 20% strikeout rate. He also almost hit a sixth that died on the warning track in left field and broke Hawk Harrelson’s heart.
And that’s pretty much been the extent to which Dunn’s showed out any kind of opposite-field approach. He’s just feeling good, seeing the ball great and has been yanking ball to right like the days of yore. (From Texas Leaguers)
It’s refreshing in a sense. In a way that fleeting cool breezes are.
If there’s one thing that this little kick has seemed to confirm is that he hasn’t lost his ability to display his prodigious power. It’s not something anecdotal like Dayan Viciedo‘s power, you can see Dunn’s strength whenever he makes contact. Dunn’s isolated power for the season (.267) is right around his career average (.259) and it’s no easy feat to maintain that at 33 years of age. If Dunn batted .250, he could easily slug in the low .500’s.
Unfortunately, he can’t get anywhere close to batting .250. He’s still hitting .182/.282/.449, which is still below-average as a whole, even if depressingly makes him the fourth-best hitter on the team. The homers are still there and really aren’t going anywhere, and an Albert Belle-like explosion where he golfs 30 bombs in the second half is unrealistic given his well-established performance ceiling. Dunn’s issues are with balls in play–he doesn’t generate enough of them and doesn’t do enough with them.
Since Dunn ended May with a stretch where he struck out 18 times in 10 games, there’s nothing about a stretch of good contact that’s should particularly excite. He’s hit some encouraging line-drives around the park in the past weeks, but the real effort to shift his approach went down in flames early in the year. Without that, we’re still just hoping for the brief bits of hot streak to catch on to something more permanent. Dunn hasn’t earned any credibility beyond his current season line, which is still bad and unworthy of his place in the order and his role in the lineup.
The White Sox, in their run-starved mania, are pretty much the only place where Dunn can find a home, get the full workload necessary to have his bizarre season where he chucks 40+ bombs, possibly record more RBIs than hits, double both totals with his strikeouts, and have a team waiting for him to suddenly become a savior the whole time.
*The White Sox haven’t actually been any better this month, other teams have just been worse