Friday, June 14, 2013
Williams won't call Dunn a free agent bust
By Doug Padilla
Adam Dunn is batting .184 in two-plus seasons with the White Sox.
CHICAGO -- Chicago White Sox executive vice president Kenny Williams admitted that slugger Adam Dunn hasn't always been the player the White Sox thought they were getting three years ago, but he refuses to be a pessimist about it.
It was Williams, then the general manager, who signed Dunn to a four-year, $55 million deal before the start of the 2011 season.
While showing brief glimpses of his former prowess, Dunn's time with the White Sox has been met primarily with disappointment. He is currently trending upward at the plate with home runs in consecutive games and a four-hit game Monday.
"I still think that Adam can be one of the more dynamic players in the game," Williams said Friday. "I think this past week you've seen a little bit of that. It's tough coming into a new place with the expectations that you have. I'm glad to see that in this past week he's gotten back to focusing on being a good hitter. Not just a power guy but being a good hitter because when we signed him it wasn't just for the power."
The White Sox's main goal heading into that offseason was a left-handed power bat that could produce runs and Dunn was the prime example of that on the free-agent market. The acquisition was met with wide-ranging praise, especially since the White Sox were still able to re-sign Paul Konerko.
Almost immediately, though, Dunn no longer looked like the 40-homer, 100-RBI machine that he had been in the National League. There were thoughts that Dunn could hit 50 home runs a season in the launching pad known as U.S. Cellular Field.
Instead, Dunn hit 11 home runs during his first season on the South Side with 42 RBIs. The last time his RBI total was that low was in 2001 when he drove in 43 runs for the Cincinnati Reds. The only difference was that Dunn only played in 66 games for the Reds that season. He played in 122 for the White Sox in 2011.
To his credit, Dunn has never made any excused for what happened in 2011 and typically steers conversations away from a season he would like to keep in the past.
Last season Dunn was much improved, hitting 41 home runs with 96 RBIs, but his .204 batting average was well under his career .240 mark, as was his on-base percentage (.333 to .370) and his slugging percentage (.468 to .499).
This year he leads the White Sox with 17 home runs and 38 RBIs, although he is carrying a .182 batting average, a .282 on-base percentage and a .449 slugging percentage. While his strikeout total is high at 79, he is on pace to finish with less Ks than the 222 that led the American League last year.
Dunn still has one more season remaining on his four-year deal and with Konerko possibly moving on after this year, he could end up taking over at first base, for one season anyway. While the returns haven't been what the White Sox expected, Williams isn't going to call Dunn a bust.
"First and foremost he was a good hitter, a guy who got on base, a guy that took the ball to the opposite field and drove in runs," Williams said. "Everybody can get away from their game no matter what the sport is, and he got away from it a little bit, but it's really encouraging to see how he's going about his business now."