Adam Dunn hits home runs, strikes out a lot and always speaks the truth, not necessarily in that order.
When the White Sox’ designated hitter/first baseman jumped on the phone Tuesday to talk about being named The Sporting News’ American League Comeback Player of the Year — voted on by major-league players — Dunn wasn’t exactly taking bows.
“I guess I was capable of it,” Dunn said on a conference call. “Looking back now … first off, it’s an award that I hope I never win again.
“It’s kind of bittersweet because one of two things has to happen for you to win this award and that’s that you are injured for probably most of the year or you have a real bad, terrible season.”
Dunn was decidedly in the latter category during the 2011 season, his first in a White Sox uniform.
Expected to be a potent offensive force on a team that looked to be a safe pick to make the playoffs, Dunn proceeded to have one of the worst individual years in baseball history.
It’s still a sore subject, and one Dunn was not interested in revisiting Tuesday.
This season he batted .204 with 41 home runs, 96 RBI, 105 walks and 87 runs scored. The year before, Dunn batted .159 with 11 home runs, 42 RBI, 75 walks and 36 runs.
Had he not been held out of the lineup for long stretches during the final month of 2011, Dunn would have finished with the lowest batting average in major-league history. Instead, he failed to qualify by six plate appearances.
Dunn drastically improved in the home run and RBI departments this season, but his batting average still was disappointing. In the AL, only Tampa Bay’s Carlos Pena (.197) hit lower among qualified hitters.
Dunn also led the majors with 222 strikeouts this season, 1 shy of the record Arizona’s Mark Reynolds established in 2009. While he always ranks among the highest strikeout victims in baseball, Dunn already has a plan to lower the ‘K’ count next year.
“I think I really want to be more aggressive earlier in the count,” he said. “When I get so selective, not only will I look at location, I’ll look at a pitch. I know for the most part how teams are going to try to attack me, and they also know that.
“They’re not always going to comply. For the most part, not single it down to one pitch, one location, just kind of look at a location and hit off that. Try to be more aggressive early in the count.”
Even if Dunn had a higher batting average and fewer strikeouts, he’d still think this season was a waste after the White Sox led the AL Central for most of the season before running out of gas down the stretch.
“It doesn’t matter what you do if you don’t reach the ultimate goal,” Dunn said. “It’s a wasted year. I would hope everybody on the team feels that way.”Copyright © 2013 Paddock Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.