Chicago White Sox: Will Adam Dunn Have a Bounce Back Year

Ernest ShepardAnalyst IIIJanuary 11, 2012

CHICAGO, IL - SEPTEMBER 25:  Adam Dunn #32 of the Chicago White Sox hits against the Kansas City Royals September 25, 2011 at U.S. Cellular Field in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images)
Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

For Chicago White Sox fans, the word rebuilding is a filthy term. No, I do not mean the term that scouts use when describing the 12-6 curve ball of Gavin Floyd. On the contrary, it is used as the term that turns fans away.

When you look at the current payroll of the Sox, the top three players in the salary structure have been huge disappointments thus far. Jake Peavy ($15 million), Alex Rios ($12.5 million), and Adam Dunn ($12 million) are all busts. Each of them is the reason why White Sox fans wanted to see General Manager Kenny Williams leave town instead of former Manager Ozzie Guillen.

Can these players have bounce back years? Perhaps.

Allow me to focus on the one player who the Sox need the biggest return from.

Adam Dunn had a near record-breaking season during the 2011 campaign. The problem is that it wasn't in a good way. 

Strikeouts were something that Dunn has been known for. Over his last five seasons he has struck out no fewer than 120 times. Kenny Williams knew this when he offered Dunn the multi-year deal. Dunn was brought in to hit home runs and protect team captain Paul Konerko in the lineup.

Year one in the books was an epic failure.

Playing in 122 games Dunn struck out 177 times and only produced 11 homers with 42 runs batted in. Not what anybody expected from this big signing. It's not in his history to struggle so mightily throughout an entire season. 

For this I put the primary blame on Dunn rushing back from an appendectomy he had earlier in the season. Before the surgery he batted .285 and after he was well under the Mendoza line hitting for a .154 average. The appendectomy definitely threw off his timing and he wasn't the same hitter.

Last season also marked the first time in Dunn's career that he has been a full-time designated hitter. To hear former White Sox great Frank Thomas explain it, the DH role requires a totally different mindset. It was something that Dunn clearly wasn't prepared for.

I believe that he can put it back together this year.

An offseason dedicated to getting in shape and swinging the bat would go a long way for him.  He also has history on his side. When you look at his career numbers, what stand out among the strikeouts are 365 home runs. Most recently, he hit 38 homers for Washington a season prior.

Paul Konerko had his troubles when he first donned a White Sox uniform. None worst than in 2003 when he only hit 18 homers, and had a batting average of .234. Many of us wanted to run him out of town. Two seasons later, Konerko is in the running for American League MVP.

While I am not predicting that type of success for Dunn, history tells us that he will return to form. 

Consider this thought as well, Ozzie Guillen is no longer the manager. When you constantly hear your manager call you out on a day-to-day basis, coupled with the consistent boos from fans, human nature suggests that a player will check himself out. Now that Robin Ventura is in place as the Sox skipper, Dunn may check back in.

If so, the filthy term known as rebuilding again might be mute.