Chicago White Sox Quarter-Season Crisis: Just How Bad Is Adam Dunn?

Chris Murphy@@SeeMurphsTweetsAnalyst IMay 17, 2011

CHICAGO, IL - MAY 16: Adam Dunn #32 of the Chicago White Sox takes a swing against the Texas Rangers at U.S. Cellular Field on May 16, 2011 in Chicago, Illinois. The Rangers defeated the White Sox 4-0. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

He'll come around.

He's hit at least 38 home runs in the last seven seasons and U.S. Cellular is a launch pad.

At least his on-base percentage is kind of decent.

Wow, he struck out how many times? Again?

How much did we pay him?

Adam Dunn, ladies and gentlemen. He'll make you stare straight up when he connects with a towering home run and force your head straight down when he strikes out multiple times in consecutive games.

What has been Dunn's M.O. is the fact he balances out the strikeouts with wearing a pitcher down via the walk or hitting a pitcher where it hurts the most with home runs planes have to avoid. Even when Dunn strikes out, he usually does it after forcing a pitcher to throw a decent amount of pitches, which is the name of the game.

In 2011, after receiving a four-year, $56 million contract from the Chicago White Sox, Dunn simply isn't wearing down anyone or anything but the patience of White Sox fans.

With the White Sox having played 42 games—35 of which have featured Dunn—the Big Donkey is hitting .203 with a .331 OBP, four home runs, 16 RBI, 13 runs, 23 walks and 47 strikeouts. If Dunn were to play all of the remaining 120 games, he is on pace for about 96 hits, 15 home runs, 62 RBI, 50 runs, 89 walks and 181 strikeouts.

Dunn hasn't had lower than 122 hits since he hit 82 in 2003, but that was in 116 games.

Fifteen home runs would be a career low by far. His previous low was in his rookie season when he hit 19 in 66 games.

Dunn hasn't had lower than 100 RBI since 2006 when he had 92. Sixty-two would be his lowest mark since he had 57 in 116 games in 2003.

Fifty runs would be a career low. He scored 54 runs in 66 games in his first season.

A scary stat for White Sox fans is that Dunn had walked over 100 times in six straight seasons, until last year's 77 free passes. Dunn had also not struck out over 180 times in three straight seasons before his 199 Ks last season.

Dunn's walk total last season was his lowest since 2003, when he walked 74 times in 116 games, and his strikeout total was his highest ever.

Dunn's BABIP is at .288, so he's had his fair share of bad luck. However, it's hard to ignore the path his first quarter of the season on the Southside is paving.

Excluding last season, Dunn is walking at his lowest percentage (15.5) since the 66 games in his rookie season when he walked 13.4 percent of his at-bats. Even including last year when he struck out a career-high 199 times, Dunn is striking out at his highest percentage ever (38.4).

Plate discipline can be broken down even more, and it still isn't pretty for Dunn.

Dunn is swinging at balls out of the zone 23.4 percent of the time, his worst since last season, and balls in the strike zone 60.6 percent of the time, his worst percentage ever. Last season, Dunn swung at balls out of the zone 28.4 percent of the time, which was his highest percentage since he did it 22.4 percent of the time in 116 games in 2003. Dunn hasn't watched so many strikes since he swung at 64.2 percent of pitches in the zone in 2005.

Another scary stat for White Sox fans and people who have Dunn on their fantasy team is the fact that Dunn swung at balls in the strike zone 68.3 percent of the time last season—the highest percentage of his career—but with 199 strikeouts. Perhaps Dunn is just a bit slower since hitting his 30s before last season.

Numbers do go both ways, though. Although Dunn swung at pitches in the zone more than ever last season (which is good) and he did have a career-high 199 strike outs (which is bad), he did have 145 hits. The difference, however, between a good season and a great season for Dunn was swinging at pitches out of the zone.

For example, in 2009, Dunn swung at pitches out of the zone 19.4 percent of the time resulting in 146 hits, 116 walks, 177 Ks and an OBP of .398 to go along with 38 homers and a great season. In 2010, when Dunn swung at more pitches out of the zone than he ever had before, he finished with 145 hits, 77 walks, 199 Ks and an OBP of .356 to go along with 38 homers and a good season.

Whether it's the fact he's not playing the field for the first time, he's facing American League pitching every day for the first time, he's simply aging or the fact that he's on a team with high expectations in large part to the contract he was given, who knows?

Forty-two games is a small sample size, but it is more than 25 percent of the season, so the "he'll come around" excuse is getting old.

On the other side, Dunn has 34 of his 123 at-bats against the likes of Jeremy Guthrie (3.98 ERA), Justin Verlander (2.91 ERA), Dan Haren (1.93 ERA), Jered Weaver (2.26 ERA), C.C. Sabathia (3.47 ERA), Brett Anderson (3.21 ERA), Trevor Cahill (1.82 ERA), James Shields (2.08 ERA), Felix Hernandez (3.36 ERA) and closers like Jose Valverde, Joakim Soria and Mariano Rivera.

He has two hits in those 34 at-bats. Perhaps he deserves some leeway to adjust to the AL, but how much? More than 25 percent of the season has gone by.

Either way, right now, the only number that is looking good for Adam Dunn this season is the $56 million on his contract. Unfortunately for the White Sox, that stat benefits no one but Dunn and his agent.