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Adam Dunn is swinging hard, coming back, and closing in on an odd record

By May 10, 2012

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Adam Dunn was a punching bag and a punch line last season, his first with the Chicago White Sox and his first in the American League.

It wasn't pretty at all. He hit .159 and struck out 177 times, perhaps the worst performance by an established hitter in a full-time role ever. His batting average was the lowest in MLB since 1900 among hitters with at least 450 plate appearances. After hitting 38 homers or more in seven consecutive seasons in the National League, he hit 11 in 2011, and none in his final 28 games. His OPS was more than 300 points below his career average.

But Chicago stuck with him this season - they had little choice because they still owed him $44 million - and the old Dunn has returned. Dunn belted his 10th homer of the season on Wednesday night in Cleveland in the White Sox's 8-2 victory.

Fangraphs has an interesting look at Dunn's resurgence, and the stats suggest that the familiarity with the American League has finally kicked in. He's been more aggressive, which has helped his power numbers.

But then there's this staggering stat: Dunn has stuck out at least once in his last 36 games. The White Sox are off Thursday. With a strikeout at home against the Royals on Friday, he'll tie a modern major league record set by Bill Stoneman in 1972. Stoneman -- a pitcher -- struck out at least once for the Montreal Expos in 37 consecutive games he played in.

So there's some bad with the good. But you know what? The White Sox will take it.

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