Adam Dunn would prefer 2011 had never happened.
Anybody that remotely follows baseball knows that Dunn had a historically awful season. Last season, he set a new record for lowest batting average at .159. Having only contributed 42 RBIs with 11 home runs, suffice it to say it was a massive blemish on an otherwise fantastic career.
In addition to his woes at the plate, Dunn had to go through something no pro athlete should have to endure and that’s getting booed by the hometown fans. The heckling was especially brutal following the All-Star break as the White Sox began to fall out of contention. Just having Dunn in the on-deck circle made Sox fans vocal with their disapproval that he was still suiting up every day. It also didn’t help that Dunn admitted before the season that he participates in barely any offseason training.
However, here we are in 2012 and I’m just going to put it out there, Dunn is doing very well (I’m knocking on wood of course). His BA is a bit low at .246, but he never did hit for a high average. What is important is his contributions to run production. He has 13 RBIs and that ties him for 7th in the American League. He also has hit three balls out of the park which puts him on pace to have the 30+ home runs that the Sox paid for. I know it is very early and evaluating these stats in terms of the season doesn’t hold much weight, but I can be optimistic.
It is easy to see why the White Sox would shell out $56 million over four years to get Dunn’s bat on the team. Dunn has hit 35 home runs in every season since 2004 and has had at least 100 RBIs in all of those seasons save one. Given the way the top half of the Sox order has been performing, it can be expected that Dunn will see many RBI opportunities. This is especially true now that Brent Morel has been dropped to the eight spot. It is also interesting to note that on Friday, Dunn did some extra batting practice before the game and then he had 5 RBIs as the Sox spanked the Mariners. Hopefully this is a sign of his improved work ethic.
Overall, it has been a very good start for Dunn, but the team’s status is tied to his own. If the White Sox start losing games, fans won’t care how well he’s doing and every time he misses a pitch, the heckles will return. If the Sox continue to succeed, Dunn will most likely be involved in that success and the crowd will embrace him. Unlike their north side counterparts, Sox fans are a fickle bunch. If his early success turns out to be a fluke, I know that I certainly wouldn’t want to be Dunn up there in the batter’s box.