Designated hitter Adam Dunn of the Chicago White Sox fouls off a pitch against the Tampa Bay Rays during a game at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida. (Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images)
Adam Dunn is at the wrong end of a number of leaderboards with which you're familiar. He's also at the top of one with which you are not.
Adam Dunn has been in a season-long slump. You know this. He has been really, really bad. While it wouldn't be fair to blame Dunn alone for the White Sox being on the fringes of the playoff race instead of in the thick of it, one can't deny that if Dunn were his old self rather than his new self, the White Sox would be much closer to first.
Dunn has been a disaster, relative to himself. His average is at a career low. His OBP and slugging percentage are at career lows. His home run rate is at a career low. His strikeout rate is at a career high (where high is bad).
And Dunn has been a disaster, relative to the league. Among 156 qualified hitters, Dunn's average ranks 156th. His OBP ranks 142nd. His OPS ranks 155th. His strikeout rate ranks 156th.
And so on. Baseball generates a number of statistical leaderboards intended in some way to measure offensive productivity, and with many of them, you can find Dunn at one of the extremes. Generally the bad extreme. You're probably familiar with most of these leaderboards. You might not be familiar with the one I'm about to present.
Below, you'll find the ten highest foul-ball rates in baseball this season. Foul-ball rate is [number of foul balls] / [times making contact]. Thus, foul-ball rate + in play rate = 100%. The league foul-ball rate is a shade over 48 percent.
Foul-ball rate leaderboard:
(1) Adam Dunn, 62.2%
(2) Carlos Peguero, 60.5
(3) Bill Hall, 60.1
(4) Milton Bradley, 59.1
(5) Ivan Rodriguez, 59.0
(6) Tyler Greene, 58.7
(7) Eli Whiteside, 58.3
(8) Jerry Sands, 57.5
(9) Travis Snider, 57.2
(10) Nick Hundley, 56.8
Adam Dunn, as we all know, already has enough trouble making contact. But so far this season, even when he's made contact successfully, he's had more trouble hitting the ball into fair territory than anybody else. He's hit 1.6 balls foul for every one ball he's hit fair.
Now, hitting a lot of foul balls is not necessarily bad. Freddie Freeman has hit a lot of foul balls. Curtis Granderson has hit a lot of foul balls. Hunter Pence has hit a lot of foul balls. Additionally, Dunn hit a lot of foul balls even before this season, when he was productive. But look at the trend in his table:
Dunn's foul-ball rate used to hover in the mid-50s. This season, it's shot way up to the league lead. Even though we don't know much about foul-ball rate, and thus can't be sure how to interpret this data, it seems clear that something has changed.
Dunn's foul-ball rate is way up. His home-run rate is way down. His pop-up rate is way up. His BABIP is way down. Altogether, it paints the picture of a guy who can't find his timing or swing. I think we probably all knew that before, but the foul-ball rate is just another shred of evidence that Adam Dunn ain't right.