Adam Dunn striking out at record pace, but that's not the stat he looks at
Adam Dunn strikes out a lot. No, A LOT.
Strikeouts are such a common occurrence for the 6-6, 285-pound White Sox slugger, he might as well add a K to his name. Dunn has struck out a major league-high 125 times in only 272 at-bats this season -- by comparison, the guy in second place, the Rays' Carlos Peña, has 98 strikeouts -- and is on pace to go well beyond the single-season record of 223 set by Mark Reynolds in 2009.
But Dunn says he does not fret about his high number of strikeouts or his .213 batting average.
"I don't care. If it's two outs in the top of the first inning, what's the difference between me flying out to the wall or striking out? Nothing," Dunn said. "But I'm going to try and be selective and wait for a pitch that I can try and do some damage with, and if I don't get it, hopefully either walk or get on."
Dunn focuses on his on-base percentage and run production, which are substantially better thanks to his major league-leading 64 walks. He has a .363 OBP with 44 runs and is tied for fifth in the majors with 58 RBIs. Dunn is third in the majors with 24 home runs, trailing only Jose Bautista and Josh Hamilton.
That also happens to be how many singles he's hit this season.
"I can sit there and I could probably strike out way less and put the ball in play way more and probably get a lot more singles,'' he said, "but to me, I don't care how I get on. I don't care if I walk, I don't care if I get a hit. But if I'm hitting singles, what's that? I mean, I don't want to sit there and have 120 singles.
"I could care less about if my average is .200, .220 or .350. If you've got 100-something RBIs and hopefully 100-something runs scored, those are the numbers, those are what win games. Not you hit .360. So what?"
Given his miserable performance last season in his first year with the White Sox, Dunn's high production level this year is even more impressive.
The former All-Star had career lows in batting average (.159), home runs (11), RBIs (42), OBP (.292) and slugging percentage (.277) in 122 games in 2011. According to Elias, he is only the second player in MLB history to reach 20 home runs the year after owning a slugging percentage below .300.
"The best thing that happened last year was when I got that appendectomy was I've been healthy my whole career, I haven't had any problems and just seeing one little setback . . . I'm taking each year [one at a time]," said Dunn, 32.
Dunn is third among active players and eighth in MLB history with 1,934 career strikeouts. At his current rate of 190 strikeouts per 162 games, he should surpass all-time strikeout king Reggie Jackson (2,597) sometime in 2015.
"I think he goes through a period where he just tries to hit so many home runs and gets pull-happy and hits a lot of foul balls to the right side pulling the ball," White Sox manager Robin Ventura said Thursday. "Then it makes him susceptible to step away, soft stuff. Last couple of days, we've been trying to move him over in the middle of the field, into leftfield, just better contact."
Dunn went 0-for-2 with two strikeouts and two walks in Saturday's 4-0 loss to the Yankees at the Stadium.
He is well on his way to reaching his performance objectives for the season. Just don't expect him to care about his proclivity for striking out.
"Somebody sees my year [.213], you immediately go -- not a very good year," Dunn said. "As long as my on-base percentage is -- I want it to be .370 or above. At the end of the year, that's where I want to be -- .370 to .400.
"And I don't care how I get there."