Timing Troubles for the Big Breeze | Bleader

Friday, April 29, 2011

Timing Troubles for the Big Breeze

Posted By on 04.29.11 at 11:19 AM

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The Big Breeze stretched his missing streak to 13 games last weekend, fanning in all three losses to the Tigers, but he snapped the streak on Monday night in a rare White Sox victory, 2-0 over the Yankees. The Sox have won every game this season in which Adam Dunn has played and not struck out. Both of them. Dunn is now working on a fresh three-game missing streak.

Dunn’s quest to break the club’s season strikeout record (175) seemed in jeopardy when he missed a half dozen games this month because of an appendectomy. But he’s making up for lost time by fanning at an elevated clip—once every 2.4 official at bats, compared with his career rate of once every 3 ABs.

Back in the old days three years ago, we would have fretted and fussed over the cause of the Big Breeze’s increased whiffing—but thanks to computer analysis, we needn’t wonder. On Wednesday, ESPN’s Stats & Info blog posted the answer to “Why Dunn’s done little damage thus far.” The blog, which uses “a blend of traditional statistics and the advanced metrics we call ‘Next Level,’" has determined that Dunn is striking out more because he’s been missing the ball more. “Dunn’s miss percentage on pitches in the strike zone from left-handed pitching is way up,” Stats & Info points out. As is his miss percentage against right-handers. And his miss percentage against fastballs. So there you have it from Next Level metrics: all Dunn has to do is reduce his miss percentage, and he’ll be in business.

“It’s all about my timing,” the Big Breeze told the Tribune Monday. “It sets up me swinging and missing. It sets up me swinging at bad pitches. It takes me longer to get my timing than other people.”

I think he’s right. Even without the benefit of Next Level metrics, I have detected a flaw in his timing. He should start swinging before the catcher throws the ball to the third baseman.

Fans should also remember that Dunn came to Chicago from Washington, which will make him late for everything until Ozzie reminds him to reset his watch.

The strikeouts were expected; the Big Breeze has always been an all-or-nothing kind of hitter. But so far with the Sox, he’s been hardly-anything-or-nothing. He has two homers and is batting .162.

When he came to the plate in the middle innings of last Saturday’s game against the Tigers, Fox TV color man Mark Grace noted that although Dunn had been struggling, he was an especially exciting hitter, the kind who keeps you from heading to the fridge for a beer when he’s up because you know that at any moment “something can happen.” A moment later, something did: Dunn popped out. I headed to the pantry for a bourbon.

So far: 19 games, 68 ABs, 28 Ks.

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