White Sox Dunn has found his groove again
Paul Konerko always stays in the moment.
The White Sox' captain doesn't care to rehash history, and he really abhors making predictions about the future.
Konerko made a rare exception after Tuesday night's 11-4 win over the Minnesota Twins at U.S. Cellular Field.
When asked about another big offensive game from teammate Adam Dunn, Konerko flashed back and forward.
"I know he doesn't want to talk about it, but he earned a lot of respect with everybody last year with the way he got through that," Konerko said. "And I think he's better now than he was even before last year, and he was great then."
Konerko initially alluded to Dunn's 2011 season, his first in a White Sox uniform.
It was a miserable year from start to finish, and Dunn's .159 batting average would have been the lowest in major-league history if he had enough plate appearances to qualify.
This year Dunn is showing why the Sox first tried acquiring him in a 2010 trade from the Washington Nationals before signing him to a four-year, $56 million contract later that winter.
Through Thursday, the White Sox' 32-year-old designated hitter/first baseman was leading the majors with 30 home runs. Dunn also ranked fourth in the American League with 71 RBI, first with 75 walks and — naturally — first with 147 strikeouts.
Last season we analyzed Dunn's poor performance at the plate on numerous occasions. Let's do the same now in reverse while hopefully explaining Dunn's remarkable turnaround.
In 2011, Dunn often talked about his body position at the plate.
It wasn't good, and he always seemed to be loading either too late or too early. He also was resting his bat over his left shoulder and on his back, and the positioning sapped his bat speed.
This year Dunn is getting the bat off his shoulder and loading his swing in plenty of time to make powerful contact.
He also is keeping his head on the baseball instead of constantly pulling off and not coming close to hitting the ball like last year.
Dunn has had some rough stretches this season during which he has piled up strikeouts and bogged down the White Sox' offense.
His stance has been good, so what's been the problem?
We'll let Dunn explain.
"I think a lot of times I get in trouble when I swing too hard," he said earlier this week. "I may not see the pitch so good that I swing too hard and I feel that a lot.
"But it seems like lately with two strikes I've tried to wait and see the ball before I swing.
"I don't know. When you hit it you're not really swinging too hard. It just kind of shows up."
Left is right:
Dunn is a left-hander hitter, so it's natural to expect he's not going to be as effective against left-handed pitchers.
But last season he batted just .064 (6-for-94) with 1 double against lefties. This year Dunn has held his stance much better instead of bailing out all the time.
As a result, he's batting .174 (21-for-121) with 10 home runs and 2 doubles vs. left-handers.
At 6-feet-6 and 285 pounds, Dunn is one of the bigger hitters in the game.
But after last year's disastrous showing, he went back home to Houston and got himself in much better shape.
Dunn was well over 300 pounds last year, but he has kept the weight off, and it has enhanced his bat speed.
Dunn never made any excuses in 2011, and that's why Konerko and so many other teammates are thrilled with the way he's swinging the bat this season.
While he never came out and said it, Dunn obviously struggled making the adjustment to a new team, new league and new role last year.
The White Sox were "All In" and expectations were high. When they didn't play up to expectations, Dunn was the biggest target of boo-birds at the Cell, and he was never able to relax.
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