Sep 11, 2014; New York, NY, USA; Washington Nationals first baseman Adam LaRoche (25) is congratulated by third base coach Bob Henley (14) after hitting a 1st inning two-run home run against the Washington Nationals at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports
Adam Dunn was the Chicago White Sox left-handed bat in the middle of the lineup over the last four years. While he provided power and run production (minus ’11), he struck out entirely too much.
Dunn struck out as many as 222 times (2012) in a season for the Sox. His problem wasn’t that he didn’t drive in runs, it was the way he drove them in. He would hit a home run (28.3 percent of his career hits are HRs), walked or struck out.
When Dunn came to the plate, he pretty much would swing for the fence. That isn’t a good way to hit for a high average (.237 career average), but what made Dunn valuable is that he had a great batters eye. Which is something that most power hitters don’t have.
Aug 10, 2014; Seattle, WA, USA; Chicago White Sox first baseman Adam Dunn (44) hits a single against the Seattle Mariners during the fourth inning at Safeco Field. Mandatory Credit: Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports
Dunn, according to stats from ESPN.com, walked as many as 105 times (2012) for the Sox, showing that he can take pitches. He could also foul tough pitches off, especially when he was hot (.364 career OBP).
Dunn, who the White Sox traded this past August, has since retired, and the Sox have moved on to a new designated hitter in Adam LaRoche.
LaRoche is a left-handed bat who makes much more consistent contact than Dunn ever did. LaRoche’s career average is at .264, which is much better, not to mention his highest strikeout total in a season was 142, much lower than Dunn’s.
He won’t drive in as many runs as Dunn, but he is a more consistent hitter, and that is more valuable over a long season. LaRoche has two 100 RBI seasons (’10 and ’12) and has two seasons where he topped 30 HRs (’06 and ’12).
Those kind of players are tough to win with as your key run producers, because when they go cold, so does your offense.
LaRoche has been to the postseason four times (ATL: ’04-05, WSH: ’12 and ’14). In Washington he was a key cog in the lineup, and he had a good year in ’05 with Atlanta (20 HRs and 78 RBIs).
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The spread between HR and RBI is key, because if a player hits 20-30 HRs, but has 80-100 RBIs that means he is producing runs other ways than by hitting the long ball.
By no means am I saying that Dunn is a bad baseball player. Dunn is one of the more prolific sluggers of his era, it is just that he is incredibly flawed. LaRoche is more well-rounded at the plate, and has a good glove at first.
With LaRoche in the lineup, Jose Abreu will have much better protection. Meaning he will get better pitches to see, and the lineup will score more runs. LaRoche is a big key to the White Sox offense, and I think that Sox fans will like this designated hitter better than their last one.