The Curious Case of Chicago White Sox Slugger Adam Dunn

Adam MartinContributor IIIMay 31, 2011

Adam Dunn
Adam DunnJonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Last December, the Chicago White Sox made a big slash in the free-agent market by signing former Washington Nationals first baseman Adam Dunn to be their designated hitter.

By inking the slugger to supplant a lineup that already included sluggers Carlos Quentin and Paul Konerko, the Sox headed into the season heavily favoured to make a push for the division crown.

Now, after nearly two months of the season, the White Sox sit in third place in the American League Central, six games under .500 and 8.5 games back from the division-leading Cleveland Indians. Dunn, who signed a 4-year, $56-million deal to lead the White Sox to glory, is one of the primary culprits for this early season disappointment.

With a mere five home runs and a meager.181/.320/.331 batting line (AVG/OBP/OPS) over the first two months of the season, it is not hard to see why White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen has lost confidence in his under-performing slugger.

In fact, his numbers against left-handed pitchers—0-for-38 as of May 31—are so downright atrocious that the testy Guillen recently dropped Dunn to seventh in the lineup during a recent road trip to Toronto, even sitting him against tough Boston lefty Jon Lester Monday night.

Obviously, this isn’t what the White Sox were expecting when they decided to pay Dunn an average of $13 million a season. Of course, they were paying him based on his past performances, and after blasting 38 or more home runs for the past seven seasons to go along with a ton of walks and a high slugging percentage, Dunn—no doubt one of the most consistent power hitters in the game—was more than deserving of the deal he signed.

But he has not performed up to the dollars thus far this season. On pace for a career-low 16 home runs and a career-high 220 strikeouts, glimpses of his greatness have been few and far between this year for White Sox fans. While many observers chalk up his slow start to adjusting to a new league’s pitching, just one look at Dunn standing in the batter’s box this season shows a hitter who has lost his confidence.

White Sox fans are hoping he regains it soon or else they may see the division quickly slip out of reach.