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2012 Fact or Fiction: Adam Dunn, Chicago White Sox
Reggie | Monday October 3rd, 2011
One of the few home runs Adam Dunn hit in 2011. (Icon SMI)
One of the few home runs Adam Dunn hit in 2011. (Icon SMI)

Fact or Fiction examines the 2011 performance of a player, good or bad, and determines whether he'll duplicate his numbers in 2012 or it was just a fluke. Today's Fact or Fiction looks at Chicago White Sox first baseman Adam Dunn.

When you ask around to other fantasy baseball owners about a miserable season, Adam Dunn's name is the first to surface in the conversation as one of the biggest disappointments in 2011 (sorry Hanley Ramirez owners).

Prior to the 2011 season, Dunn signed a multi-year deal with the Chicago White Sox after spending two seasons with the Washington Nationals. While with the Nats, Dunn hit a combined .264/.378/.533 with 76 home runs, 208 RBI and a .910 OPS in 2009-2010.

After finishing second in the National League in home runs with 38 (Albert Pujols had 47) in 2010, fantasy owners and White Sox fans were hoping Dunn would show his power in one of the " friendliest home run" ball parks in 2010 according to ESPN. However, a shift from Nationals Park to U.S. Cellular Field didn't prove to generate more home runs for Dunn.

According to Yahoo! Fantasy Baseball, Dunn was drafted 11th overall among on first baseman and had an average draft pick (ADP) of 42.5. Players selected after Dunn include Michael Young (80.4 ADP), CC Sabathia (45.0 ADP), and Rickie Weeks (51.4 ADP).

So when did fantasy owners start to worry about their first baseman? It's safe to say that after the first month of the season, when Dunn hit .160/.300/.267 with 31 strikeouts in 75 April at-bats, owners were worried. Most of us thought it was a "cold-start" for the first month and he would bounce back. However, things would continue to spin downward for Dunn, as he didn't record a hit off left-handed pitching until 40 at-bats into the season.

Dunn would end the first half of the season hitting .160/.292/.305 with nine homers and 34 RBI. In addition to the awful numbers, he had 117 strikeouts in 78 games. His 117 strikeout total in the first half was the second highest in the big leagues behind Drew Stubbs (122). By the end of the season, Dunn would finish with 177 strikeouts and a final line of .159/.292/.569. His strikeout total was higher than his batting average, becoming just the second player in baseball hitter to achieve such a rare feat. (The first was Mark Reynolds in 2010)

In addition to the strikeouts, Dunn became the only player to have a batting average less than .170 with more than 400 at-bats or 400 plate appearances in a season. However, not everything was lost for Dunn in 2011. He did manage to post a walk-percentage (BB%) of 15.1%, although he only posted a .292 on-base percentage, so the walks were likely lost in poor on-base percentage.

There's a lot of speculation on why Adam Dunn was awful in 2011:
  • He couldn't catch up with fastballs. 
  • He was used to playing first base and needed to adjust to being a designated hitter. 
  • He wasn't used to American League pitching
All of these reasons and likely more issues contributed to his poor season. The fact is, there isn't one item that owners can pinpoint for the poor offensive production in 2011.

Adam will turn 32 over the off-season and will be entering his second season with the Chicago White Sox in 2012. It's hard to ignore a player who has produced big home run numbers like Dunn in the past, but at the same time, how much are owners investing in Dunn's ability to reinvent his swing during the off-season.

I'm willing to bet that after seeing one of the worst seasons by an offensive slugger, that something has to turn around for Dunn in 2012. While he may not hit 40 home runs in a single season again, he's likely to hit closer to 30 homers with the White Sox in 2012. In addition to bouncing back in 2012, Eric Krabell of ESPN.com reminds readers that Lance Berkman had a not-so-great 2010, hitting .248 with 14 home runs and he bounced back nicely for fantasy owners at the age of 35 in 2011 as a late round pick.

While I wouldn't classify Adam Dunn as a "buy low" candidate next season, his value will never be lower than it will be on draft day in 2012. Again, we're talking about a left-handed power bat that hit at least 38 home runs from '04-'10, and given his past performances, potential owners can realistically look for Adam Dunn to return to somewhat respectable power numbers in 2012.
ReggieReggie is a writer and the co-founder of Baseball Press. He enjoys fantasy baseball and hates when players bunt in baseball.