Commentary

Adam Dunn's popup problem

White Sox slugger keeps getting under the ball, but a turnaround looks likely

Originally Published: August 6, 2011
By Ben Jedlovec | Baseball Info Solutions
DunnRon Vesely/Getty ImagesAdam Dunn's 2011 season has been a disappointment so far.

After the Chicago White Sox let Jim Thome depart via free agency following the 2009 season, the lineup was left with a gaping hole. The team looked to address this need by attempting to acquire Adam Dunn at the 2010 trade deadline, but wasn't able to get a deal done.

General manager Kenny Williams got his man during the offseason, however, inking Dunn to a four-year, $56 million contract. The former Washington Nationals slugger seemed to address two pressing issues the White Sox offense faced last year: production from the DH spot and a forceful left-handed bat to balance out right-handed lineup fixtures Paul Konerko, Carlos Quentin, Alex Rios and others.

Despite the fact Konerko has nearly replicated his career year of 2010 and Quentin has managed to stay both healthy and productive, the White Sox offense has been far less productive this year, scoring just 3.91 runs per game -- their lowest figure since first-base coach Harold Baines' rookie season (1980). The bulk of the underachievement comes from Rios and Dunn, the team's two highest-paid hitters, who have combined for just 16 homers, a .188 batting average and .570 on-base plus slugging.

The drop-off is especially surprising from Dunn, whose offensive stats have been remarkably consistent over his entire career. The White Sox also likely expected his fly ball tendencies to play well in homer-friendly U.S. Cellular Field.

So how is it, then, that the ever-consistent slugger has suddenly fallen into the worst slump of his 11-year career?