BOUNCE BACK: ADAM DUNN

When the White Sox signed Adam Dunn to a 4yr/$56M contract before the 2011 season, they knew they would see a lot of strikeouts from their new first baseman. The free-swinging Dunn was coming off of a 199 K season but that was the tradeoff as Dunn consistently posted near 40 HR and 100 RBI over the previous seven seasons.

Only in their worst nightmares could they have imagined Dunn posting a .159/.292/.277 line in 2011, with 11 HR and 42 RBI. But that’s what the White Sox got for their $12M payout last season. With the salary jumping to $14M this season and then $15M for each of 2013 and 2014, this wasn’t the kind of bomb they were looking for in Chicago.

Through 28 games this season, Adam Dunn is returning to form. The big slugger is posting numbers right in line with his career stats and leads the AL with 9 HR, trailing only Matt Kemp in the majors, who’s on fire with 12. Dunn’s OPS of .962 would be the best of his career if it holds up.

The strikeouts are there. 42 of them in 100 AB’s. But that’s always been part of the deal with Adam Dunn. From 2004 to 2010  he swung and missed often, but was remarkably consistent in hitting between 38 and 46 HRs with 92-106 RBI.

At .250/.372/.590, the White Sox are realizing the benefits of a proven power hitter who should not have fallen off the cliff with his production at age 31. But after a brutal first year in the AL, Dunn is relaxing and putting up big numbers again. Not just in the strikeout column.