Chicago White Sox designated hitter Adam Dunn told Ozzie Guillen on Tuesday that he is going to take batting practice this offseason.
You heard it right, Adam Dunn is going to use the offseason to try and get better. What a novel concept.
It's amazing that Dunn had so much success early in his career without ever working on his swing during his time off. Hitting a baseball is the hardest thing to do in sports. Dunn didn’t even practice it year-round and still averaged 40 home runs every 162 games for the first 10 years of his career.
It’s pretty remarkable when you think about it. What if LeBron James didn’t shoot jump shots in the offseason? What if Peyton Manning didn’t pick up a football until training camp? They wouldn’t be as good, obviously.
It’s a shame to think that Adam Dunn could have been so much better than he was if he had just committed to improving his game when everyone else was. Maybe he could have paired a 0.300 average with his 40 HR and 100 RBI, winning a few MVP awards along the way. I guess we’ll never know. There’s nothing that can be Dunn about it now.
But it worked for him before, so what went wrong this season? It’s most likely a combination of a few things.
Dunn seriously needs to take a look at changing some simple things about his swing. His hands are too high up, and it takes far too long to get the bat through the zone. This has always been the case with Dunn’s swing, and it’s not just a coincidence that he strikes out a lot. The truth is that Dunn is aging. His bat isn’t as quick as it once was, so he can no longer get away with a long drawn out swing.
Being primarily a designated hitter has also probably hurt Dunn. The move was going to come eventually, since he has always been a bit of a butcher at first base and in the outfield. But it does take a degree of mental dexterity to be a DH. When hitting is the only thing you contribute to a team, and you’re not hitting, it can play games with your head. All a DH has to think about all game is his previous at bat and his next at bat. If he can’t control his mind, he can easily put too much pressure on himself and begin to press.
Trying to live up to his huge contract has no doubt added more pressure to Dunn’s back. The last contract he signed with a new team was with the Nationals, which doesn’t exactly have a ruthless fan base. Former National and current Cub Alfonso Soriano could have told Dunn about the difference between Washington D.C. and Chicago when it comes to baseball. Playing at U.S. Cellular Field, many thought Dunn was going to hit 50 home runs, at least. Trying to live up to those expectations with all other things considered isn’t easy.
So Dunn is going to work on his swing. It sure couldn’t hurt. How much he will work on it remains to be seen, but he has committed to doing something. For now, White Sox fans will take what they can get.