CHICAGO -- In the midst of some historic struggles, Adam Dunn is at least putting his best face forward in the clubhouse.
He doesn’t hide, he doesn’t sulk and in general he isn’t making his problems the problems of everybody else on the team, at least not emotionally anyway.
But manager Ozzie Guillen knows that internally, one of baseball’s worst seasons ever has to be eating at the big slugger who was brought to the South Side on a four-year, $56 million deal because it seemed like the smaller dimensions of U.S. Cellular Field would play to Dunn’s strengths despite his tendency to strike out.
“I don’t care how tough you are that has to bother him,” Guillen said. “If that doesn’t bother you that means you don’t care about the game. But he hasn’t changed since we got him. He’s the same guy. Maybe when he goes home he starts crying, but when he’s around us he’s very god. He’s stayed the same way.
“Obviously he gets upset around here but I don’t see any change. He’s the same guy since spring training. I don’t see any change with the character and I don’t see any change with the swing. He’s struggled since spring training. Hopefully he gets a couple of hits here and there and helps us to win a couple of games.”
Here is a breakdown of Dunn’s struggles as compiled by the ESPN MLB research department:
Adam Dunn’s .162 batting average is on track to be the lowest in major-league history (minimum 400 at-bats or 500 plate appearances). That distinction currently belongs to Jim Canavan, who hit .166 in 1892. Since 1900, Rob Deer’s .179 batting average is the lowest for a qualifier.
Most notable is Dunn’s .039 batting average against left-handed pitching. He’s 3-for-77 with 35 strikeouts against lefties this season. Since 1975, the lowest batting average vs. left-handed pitching is .108 by Benji Gil in 1995. Dunn would have to get a hit in his next six at-bats against lefties just to get to Gil’s mark.
There have been seven games this season in which a player has had four hits against a left-hander (i.e. more than Dunn has all season).
Dunn is hitting just .132 at home. Since World War II, no one with 250-plus plate appearances at home has hit lower than .169. Both Bobby Meacham (1985) and Curt Blefary (1968) did that.
Dunn is hitting just .203 against righties this season, second-lowest in the MLB.To illustrate just how big the White Sox’s problems on offense are this season, only teammate Alex Rios (.178) is worse that Dunn against right-handers. With enough plate appearances, Rios’ would be the lowest batting average vs. right-handed pitching (minimum 300 plate appearances) since Deer hit .171 in 1991.
Rios’ .163 BA at home is on track to be the lowest since World War II (minimum 250 plate appearances). That distinction currently belongs to Rob Deer (.163) in 1991.
With two months remaining in the season, there is still time for both Dunn and Rios to turn things around, but it’s going to take a better mental approach and it’s likely that both players are too beaten down at this point to make the necessary adjustments.
“Baseball is mental more than a physical thing because baseball is everyday a battle, every at-bat, every pitch,” Guillen said. “Every time a pitcher is ready to throw a ball it’s a mental move. If you don’t prepare yourself mentally well, you’re going to have trouble. You have to make an adjustment right away, an adjustment on every pitch. If everything comes together and that thing is not there together, you’re going to fail.”