Adam, Adam, Adam, what are we going to do with you? One minute you’re going yard and the next minute you can’t find the yard with a compass. You’re a big-league enigma, but not swinging a big-league bat. Just how long can the Chicago White Sox put up with a ball and chain weighting down the batting order the way Dunn is?
Going into weekend play Dunn was batting .108 on the season. I remember when the joke about a slumping hitter used to be that he wasn’t even hitting his weight. Well, in this case Dunn wouldn’t be hitting the weight of fifth-grade twins.
Mario Mendoza the player does not live on, but the phrase “Medoza Line” does, as applied to anyone not hitting at least .200. Two hundred! Dunn is cruising along at half that. Yikes. He is approaching the Bull Dozer Line, or some other uncharted territory.
Way back when in the 1960s there was a pitcher named Hank Aguirre (this is BDH, Before the Designated Hitter), against whom all hopeless hitters were measured. Aguirre won 75 games and had an earned run average in the 3.00s, but his lifetime batting average was .085. So there is something for Dunn to shoot for.
This is getting embarrassing. For one thing Dunn is a designated hitter. He is the guy that the White Sox turn to in the batting order so their pitchers don’t have to hit. Under the rules his bat is the bonus in the lineup. No team can afford a .108-hitting designated hitter. It might as well let the pitcher hit and take its chances.
Not that the White Sox thought they were getting Tony Gwynn when they signed Dunn. Dunn is a very specific commodity. He has never hit for average, but he has always hit for power. He has pretty much been the 2000s Dave Kingman.
Dunn has six 40-homer seasons and three additional 30-homer campaigns on his resume, plus six-100 RBI seasons, even if his lifetime average is .238. Chicago felt it could live with that, as other teams like Cincinnati, Arizona and Washington had before Dunn became a free agent.
The Sox signed Dunn to a multi-year, very rich contract and have been grimacing way too frequently to claim their money’s worth since he inked his name on the deal. The 6-foot-6, 285-pound Dunn joined the White Sox in 2011 and had a horrible year with just 11 homers and 42 RBIs and a microscopic .159 average in 122 games. There was a whole lot of “What’s wrong with Adam Dunn?” kvetching that year.
Dunn bounced back in 2012 with a bizarre statistical line of good and bad extremes. On the plus side he swatted 41 home runs with 96 RBIs and walked an American League-leading 105 times. On the negative side he struck out an American League-leading 222 times and batted .204.
During the first few weeks of the 2013 season there have been almost no pluses at all. In his first 20 games Dunn has four home runs and eight RBIs. He has walked six times and struck out 28. He has reverted back to 2011 and that’s a headache the White Sox can’t afford.
Whatever ails Dunn, he must fix it. Start wearing glasses or contacts. Tweak the swing. Bunt every time up. Desperate times call for desperate measures, but hitting .108 could get a guy sent to AAA Charlotte for some instruction. Right now Dunn is walking heartburn for Sox manager Robin Ventura, general manager Kenny Williams, and a generation of fans.