What You Should Expect From Adam Dunn
This time of the year, the most added fantasy baseball players are typically young guys, call-ups who hold potential. Every year, there's a Wil Myers who receives tons of hype and on nearly every single fantasy league come mid-season.
2013 is no exception. Besides Myers, the other four most added batters within the past week fit the same mold: Mike Carp, Kyle Blanks, Josh Rutledge, and... Adam Dunn? Wait a minute, am I being Punk'd?
It sure doesn't seem that way. Unless the next big hacker of the world is a huge White Sox fan, it indeed seems as though Adam Dunn has been added in 41.3 percent of ESPN leagues over the past week, bringing his total percentage owned to 72.3 percent of all leagues. He's become the Hot Name of the Week after four homeruns since June 10 and hits in seven of his past eight contests. With this hot streak, his batting average is now up to... well, .184.
So which Dunn is the real Dunn: the player who worshiped at the Altar of Strikeouts for most of the season, or the slugger who has suddenly gotten hot? I decided to look at the numbers to find out.
Where's the Walks?
Let's get one thing out of the way right quick: Adam Dunn scares me. As in, boogeyman-style, Freddy Krueger-esque, Jason with a hockey mask terrifies me. I wouldn't touch him with a 39 and a half foot pole. And the reason has very little to do with his strikeouts.
Yeah, Dunn holds a 31.8 percent strikeout rate. In other news, water is wet, and Kanye's new album is good but weird. These things will happen from now until the end of time. But much like Kanye, you could still depend on Dunn to eventually get on base even with the large amount of strikeouts. He walked on at least 15 percent of plate appearances in all but one year between 2002 and 2012, and before coming to the White Sox, he had never registered an OBP below .350.
Those days are long, long gone. His previously exceptional walk rate is now down to 11.1 percent; still above average, but not enough to overcome his lack of base hits. His 2.86 SO/BB ratio is easily the highest of his career, and the six percent of his plate appearances that have reached 3-0 is his lowest mark ever. Pitchers aren't afraid to attack him anymore, and it's working.
That lower walk rate has been coupled with a batting average on balls in play (BABIP) that is... how do I say this... vomit inducing. Adam Dunn has batted .186 on balls in play this season, the single-worst mark among qualified major league hitters and one of only two players (Mike Moustakas) under .210. The MLB average, by the way, sits at .295.
And the scariest part? There's not much statistical evidence that he'll raise those figures any time soon. Dunn may have posted a 16.2 percent walk rate last season, but that was his highest since 2009. He had an 11.9 percent walk rate in 648 plate appearances in 2010. And while that .186 BABIP may raise some, Dunn hasn't held a BABIP higher than .246 since coming to Chicago, so even regression to the mean wouldn't bring it much higher.
You know you're going to get homeruns - his 6.9 percent homerun rate that sits only behind Chris Davis and Domonic Brown. But will he turn the rest of his numbers around enough to make the homeruns worth it? Our rest of the season projections don't think so.
That 3.06 nF Score makes him more valuable to the White Sox than a replacement player, but you can get better fantasy numbers elsewhere. Among players with 1B eligibility, we have Dunn ranked No. 23 the rest of the way. Sure, his projected homeruns are the 11th-most of any player and his RBIs are 41st, but that 338th-ranked batting average (which remember, would be an increase over his current numbers) is just too much to swallow.
As it stands, you're better off looking elsewhere if you're looking for a 1B pickup. Garrett Jones, Nick Swisher, and even teammate Paul Konerko are all owned in fewer leagues, yet are poised to have stronger second halfs.