By Tommy Rancel //
Following what seems like years of courting by the Chicago White Sox, as well as years of resisting becoming a designated hitter in the American League, Adam Dunn signed a four-year deal, $56 million to slug on Chicago’s South Side. Whether it was a change of heart or the $56 million being waved in front of his 31-year-old eyes, Dunn now says he’s not only willing to DH, but play whatever position the White Sox ask of him.
Dunn could be asked to use his
butcher’s knife glove at first base along with his time at DH. Luckily for fantasy owners, his defense is not a factor. He’ll keep his first base eligibility for 2011 at least; his offensive game is so strong that he’s well worth a spot in mixed league lineups even if he eventually loses that eligibility.
In seasons past, Dunn has been one of the more underrated hitters in the game. This is largely because his batting average has been mediocre (or worse), despite the many home runs launched from his bat. Dunn also walks a lot and strikeouts a ton. The walks are underrated in many circles and the strikeouts are seen as a huge negative to some. Still, the total package is a valuable one, in fantasy and even more so in real life.
The Big Donkey has hit at least 38 home runs in each of the last seven seasons. He is the only major leaguer who can say that. Over those seven seasons, he’s averaged 40 bombs a season with 101 runs driven in. Even though he is as slow as his nickname would suggest, his fantastic on-base skills (.381 career OBP), frequent homers and underrated durability (he’s missed 10 games or less in each of the past seven seasons) have helped him average 94 runs scored a year since 2004.
Also working in Dunn’s favor this season will be a switch to one of the more hitter-friendly parks in the AL. His new home, U.S. Cellular Field, rated as the top home run ballpark in 2010. Nationals Park ranked 15th last season.
On the other hand, there are some concerns about Dunn going into next season. He will be playing in the AL for the first time and will also be DHing for the first time on a regular basis. Add in the fact that old-player skills (walks, strikeouts, home runs) do not tend to age gracefully, and there are some concerns about a Pat Burrell-like slide.
Still, we must give Dunn the benefit of the doubt. His durability and colossal power – in conjunction with a move to “the Cell” – put him among the game’s top projected sluggers in 2011. His position in the field and lineup are to be determined; however his status as a top fantasy option remains intact as a member of the Chicago White Sox.