There was one word to describe Adam Dunn’s 2011 season with the White Sox; atrocious. However, that 2011 season seems far in the past after Dunn hit his 23rd home run of the 2012 season off Clayton Kershaw Friday night in Los Angeles. He now leads the major leagues with 23 home runs, surpassing Josh Hamilton who seemed destined to win the triple crown award at one point earlier in the season.
There isn’t much more to Adam Dunn’s name than home runs, though. He is on pace to hit almost 60 of them in 2012 which would be an incredible feat, but would it be MVP worthy?
Baseball hasn’t seen many designated hitters win the coveted MVP award over the past decade. Even David Ortiz hasn’t won one, which is saying something considering how good he was from 2003 to 2008. Ortiz did however finish in the top five of the MVP voting in five of those six years, but never took home the hardware.
Dunn finished 21st in MVP voting during the 2010 season with the Washington Nationals. During that campaign, Dunn hit 38 home runs and drove in 103. The 38 home runs he hit in 2010 was not nearly a career high, as he hit 46 with the Reds in 2004. So if he was able to reach the 60 home run plateau by the end of this season, his chances would obviously be much higher.
What’s really holding Dunn back are his alarming strikeout numbers, and I mean alarming. In 2012 he is striking out 36.2 percent of the time, a league worst by a landslide. Dunn’s approach can be frustrating, especially in situations where all he needs to do is make contact to get a run home, but he does the opposite and strikes out. Those types of things can make a manager’s head spin, but when he smashes towering home runs, the strikeouts suddenly seem manageable.
Dunn does strikeout a lot, but he does take more walks than people might give him credit for. Dunn leads the American League with an 18.1 walk percentage which gives him a solid .370 On-Base Percentage. The strikeout numbers are mind boggling, but with the home runs that seem to come in bunches and the walks, everything seems to even out after all.
If Dunn hits 50 home runs or more, he will finish top five in the MVP voting. I can tell you that right now. However, if the White Sox were to continue to win and make the playoffs, Dunn’s MVP chances would be much higher because it would show how much he means to the team.
Meanwhile, let’s just keep enjoying the booming home runs that he launches into the night.