I don't think enough attention is being paid to what Adam Dunn is doing right now. I wrote about it once before, but that was more than a month ago, and it's only gotten stranger since then.
Yesterday afternoon, Dunn went four plate appearances without putting a ball in play: one walk, three strikeouts. The walk was his 53rd of the year, the strikeouts his 102nd through 104th, He leads the AL in walks and leads all of baseball in homers (by one) and strikeouts (by very many). The White Sox have played 40.7% of their scheduled 2012 games, and if you prorate Dunn's numbers out on that basis, he's on pace for 56 homers, 130 walks, and 255 strikeouts -- that last number is nearly 15% higher than Mark Reynolds' existing single-season record of 223.
If you're into the Three True Outcomes, you've got to love what Dunn's doing. According to South Side Sox two days ago, Dunn's 62.5% TTO would shatter the current record (58.2%, set by Jack Cust in 2007); of course, his 100% performance on Sunday helped, and he's now up to 63.1%. Must be tempting for, say, a left fielder to mentally sit a play out whenever Dunn steps to the plate, knowing that there's only about a 1-in-3 chance that any one of the nine gloves on the field will end up being necessary.
Thanks to the strikeouts and a .279 BABIP, Dunn's batting just .227 -- but the full slash comes out to .227/.372/.572. His 150 wRC+ and roughly 151 OPS+ are both eighth in the AL, No hitter has ever accumulated enough plate appearances to qualify for a batting title with a batting average under .230 and an OPS above .900 (the closest would be Carlos Pena's 2009, at .227/.893); Dunn's at .954. No hitter has ever managed an OPS+ of even 135 with a batting average below .230; Dunn's over 150.
I think a lot of us expected a nice return to form from Dunn this year, but he's less "back to" his old self than he is "portraying a ludicrous caricature of" his old self. He's doing good things in a way that no one else has quite been able to do them before, and I have no idea if it can be sustained, but it's been a lot of fun so far.
Pitcher of the Night: Max Scherzer, 8 IP, 7 H, 0 BB, 0 R, 12 K
Scherzer's going to get a lot of "atta boys" for his performance last night, and for toughing it out through 122 pitches. And there's no doubt that Scherzer was absolutely dealing yesterday. But seriously. You let a pitcher who has already thrown 56 pitches sit for 53 minutes in a rain delay, and then bring him back out to throw another 66??? I get that Scherzer's not a spring chicken anymore, and he's been on a downward trajectory since 2010, but the Tigers don't really have an alternative to fill out the rotation if and when he lands on the DL. And pitching is bound to be scares on the trade market this July, given how many contenders are having rotation woes.
Hitter of the Night: Pedro Alvarez, 3-4, 2 HR, 2B, 6 RBI
Earlier today, during Pedro Alvarez's second consecutive two-homer game, friend of the blog Pat Lackey, of Where Have You Gone, Andy Van Slyke? wrote
If you claim to know what's happening with Pedro Alvarez, you're full of shit.— Pat Lackey (@whygavs) June 17, 2012
The Common Man couldn't agree more. He has no idea what to make of Alvarez, who has the ability to take over a baseball game on the very rare occasion that he can square up the ball. But he continues to be the same batter who strikes out in 31% of his plate appearances, and saw only six pitches in his four plate appearances. There has been almost no discernable improvement in Pedro's performance in 2012, other than the return of his power, and his manager seems genuinely not worried about him, citing Alvarez's RBI total and saying, "I like him swinging the bat. I've encouraged him to do that from the beginning." Good luck, Priates fans.
Defensive Play of the Night: Andrelton Simmons
Dare we say it, that was Ozzie Smith-esque. Not only does Simmons have, perhaps, the most exciting glove in the game today, but he's hitting .333/.396/.542 through his first 48 plate appearances. That almost certainly won't last, given that he's a .299/352/.397 hitter in the minors, but Simmons will be at least an average regular just on his glove alone. Anything he hits is gravy.
Injuries of Note:
Bartolo Colon - Strained right oblique
Chris Getz - leg
Vin Scully-ism of the Night: Tie!
Vin on technology: (A split screen shows Matt Treanor on one side, waiting to leave 3B. On the other side, we see Alex Rios catching a fly ball.) "Watch Treanor. Can you watch both at the same time? Probably not."
Vin letting the moment speak for itself: "There's a base hit and there's the game..." (30 seconds of silence to let the action speak for itself)
Cliche of the Night:
"We're just going to have to come out and play better," Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said. "We know what we have to do, but getting it done is another thing. We have to come out and play better baseball, outplay the other team. They outplayed us today." -Charlie Manuel
Anti-Cliche of the Night:
"These guys showed up today and were ready to win the ballgame, and a couple human, physical errors stopped us from winning. There's no magic potion for that." -Manny Acta
Trade Bait Of the Night: Jeremy Guthrie
Through at least the end of July, we'll be featuring a different player who might get moved before the trade deadline here. The Rockies made it clear that Guthrie's available yesterday. Bad timing. Guthrie gave up 8 hits (and 4 runs) in 3 innings yesterday, and it was light years better than his previous two starts, in which he allowed 14 runs combined. He has a 6.91 ERA on the year, has allowed 15 homers in 59 innings, while striking out only 30. Despite how desperate the Red Sox and Blue Jays, amongst others, are for starters, it's hard to imagine what kind of return, if any, they can get for him. Guthrie was acquired for Jason Hammel and Matt Lindstrom, by the way. Hammel is 7-2 with a 2.87 ERA for Baltimore with 77 Ks in 81 innings, and Lindstrom has a 1.29 ERA in 14 innings, but has been injured since May. Dan O'Dowd, when the bell tolls, it tolls for thee
Blue Jays: Colby Rasmus
Does anyone else really love the irony of Rasmus going 3-4 with a double and a homer two runs and three RBI on Fathers' Day? Rasmus is now hitting .255/.312/.464, which is plenty productive, and has hit .351/.363/.648 since June 5, though he weirdly hasn't drawn any walks in that span.
Red Sox: Franklin Morales
Man, it seems like forever ago that Morales was a 21 year old phenom for the Rockies in the 2007 World Series. But pressed into emergency service against the Cubs, Morales flashed some of his original promise, throwing 5 innigns, and striking out 9 batters without any walks, while allowing just two runs. He's only 26, so it's conceivable that he could still be a viable starter in the Big Leagues. And the Sox are desperate for anyone who can give them 5-6 innings. What a great story it would be if Morales could be that guy.
Dodgers: Chris Capuano
Speaking of great redemption stories, Capuano pitched 8 great innings against the White Sox, allowing just a run and striking out 12. He has now struck out 80 batters in 86 innings, and opponents are hitting just .217 off of him. Are we still allowed to make fun of Ned Colletti?
Nationals: Ryan Zimmerman
For all the good juju around Washington these days, the franchise cornerstone has dropped to .229/.300/.323 after his 0-for-4 with a strikeout on Sunday. He has been unable to get any lift on the ball since 2010 (he hits almost twice as many balls on the ground as he used to). He is signed through 2019, and is owed around another $110 million. So it'd be really nice if he turned it around eventually.
Angels: Ernesto Frieri
Frieri watch: Since joining the Angels, 19.1, 3 H, 0 R, 13 BB, 35 K
Reds: Johnny Cueto
This has always bugged The Common Man: How the hell does he even pitch it anywhere near the strikezone when he pitches with his head turned toward second base?
Mets: Chris Young
Young, despite pitching 7 good innings, lost his first game since 2009.