How bad was Adam Dunn in 2011?
So bad that even though he struggled through long stretches last season, the White Sox' designated hitter/first baseman was still voted the American League Comeback Player of the Year by The Sporting News and Players' Choice Awards.
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"I guess I was capable of it," Dunn said. "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 you are injured for probably most of the year or you have a real bad, terrible season."
Dunn was equal parts bad and terrible in 2011, his first in a Sox uniform.
Not only did he bat .159 with just 11 home runs and 42 RBI, Dunn struck out 177 times.
Last year, the big left-hander roared back with 41 home runs and 96 RBI -- both club highs -- and he led the AL with 105 walks.
But Dunn also topped the major leagues with 222 strikeouts, a franchise record. He also disappeared over the final month of the season and was as much to blame as anyone for the White Sox blowing a 3-game lead with 15 to play and missing the playoffs.
Add in the .204 overall batting average (.212 with runners in scoring position) and it's easy to see why Dunn wasn't doing cartwheels after winning the comeback honor.
And as he prepares for the upcoming season in spring training, Dunn is working to cut down on the heavy strikeout totals.
"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 of that. Try to be more aggressive early in the count."
Last season, Dunn worked the count full 157 times, the most in the majors. He also struck out 65 times on 3-2 pitches.
Late last year, hitting coach Jeff Manto said Dunn could hit .280 if he wanted. Don't expect that to happen, but the 33-year-old DH could boost his average simply by cutting down his big swing from time to time and hitting the ball the opposite way.
"You get more hits, especially the way they play him with the shift," White Sox manager Robin Ventura told reporters in spring training. "Go ahead and take the hits to the left side. Athletically, he has the ability to expand the zone a little. We're not talking about expanding the zone and swinging and missing. You're talking about being a little more aggressive, going out of the zone and making contact."
Dunn made 93 starts at designated hitter last season and batted .198 with 25 home runs and 63 RBI. He also made 51 starts at first base and batted .212 with 13 homers and 27 RBI.
When Dunn plays first base, Paul Konerko usually fills in at designated hitter.
Konerko would rather play first, and his batting average (.259) in 38 starts at DH explains why.
But as he gets older, Konerko does benefit physically from not having to play first base every day.