Hometown zero: With Adam Dunn batting cleanup, the White Sox have nothing to worry about



Dunn at the Cell on Sunday, zeroing in on a new batting record
  • Tom Cruze/Sun-Times
  • Dunn at the Cell on Sunday, zeroing in on a new batting record
"When I'm in the box, I don't feel like, 'Oh, crap, here goes nothing,'" Adam Dunn told Toni Ginnetti of the Sun-Times earlier this week.

He must not be in touch with his feelings. When the White Sox cleanup hitter bats, nothing is guaranteed, or nearly.

Sabermetrics allows us to explore Dunn's situational nonhitting in this season's opening weeks. His average is approximately .000 against power pitchers (0-10) and lefties (0-12), on balls hit to the infield (0-23), and late in close games (0-12). When he's stepped to the plate in the third, fifth, eighth, ninth, and extra innings, he's soon stepped back to the dugout with zero, zip, zilch. When he's been up with a runner on first, or third, or runners on first and third, or second and third, he's produced nada, nil, nix.

Meditators who want to think of nothing can just visualize Dunn at the plate. If x+0+y=x+y, then Alex Rios + Dunn + Paul Konerko= Alex Rios + Paul Konerko. Someone might tell Robin Ventura.

There have been a few inexplicable situations in which the Big Breeze has actually hit safely, which is why he's not batting oh oh oh right now, but a crisp one oh oh.

Sox fans should look at the bright side. Yes, Dunn is hitting .030 on the road—but he's fattening up at home (.167). Maybe he's having trouble seeing the ball in night games (.057), but in the daylight he's whacking .147. And he's shelling finesse pitchers (.121).

The lowest batting average in baseball's modern era, among hitters with enough at bats to qualify for the batting title (and less-exalted feats) was Rob Deer's .179 in 1991. Dunn himself hit 20 points less than that two years ago, in his memorable first year with the Sox, but fell six at bats short of qualifying for the record. Not only is he positioned to beat Deer's mark this year, he also has a shot at becoming the first hitter ever to finish with a two-digit average.

"I feel good, like I can still do some damage,” he told Ginnetti.

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