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White Sox Fri Jun 14 2013

Dunn and De Aza Reemerge For White Sox

Sox_200.pngThe rotation is still thin, the fundamentals are still being ignored, and the offense is still last in the AL in a lot of categories. The Sox are still under .500. But do you know what has come around? Their leadoff and cleanup hitters.

Looking at the last two weeks both Alejandro De Aza and Adam Dunn are doing what they are supposed to be doing in their respective roles. De Aza is finding ways to reach base, with a .360 batting average and five walks, and Adam Dunn is back to producing the three true outcomes (strikeouts, walks and home runs). Dunn has five homers, nine walks and 10 strikeouts in that span, good for a 1.097 OPS.

Both guys have been disappointments this season, each playing below replacement level (both have a WAR of -0.5). This season, De Aza has shown an increase in power, but everything else has been bad. He hadn't been drawing walks and getting on base was a rarity, only he bats first and gets the most plate appearances when he plays.

Dunn, meanwhile, started the season swinging the bat more, and that totally took him off his game. He basically became an out producer in the middle of the lineup; someone who wasn't hitting homers or drawing walks. He only drew 19 walks in a combined 195 plate appearances in the first two months of the season; he has nine walks in 50 plate appearances this month. No surprise that his other batting numbers have increased.

This month, De Aza has been pulling the ball more and going the other way less. Surprisingly, he doesn't get many opposite field hits. Dunn has mainly been laying off first pitches. He's playing his game. In April and May, he had power (12 home runs), but he was swinging at a significantly higher ratio of first pitches. He also swung at more balls out of the zone (ah, the low slider).

De Aza had a good night on Monday, going 2-for-5 with two RBIs. Dunn had his best game of the season that night, hitting 4-for-4 with a walk, three runs scored, two home runs and five RBIs. Dunn has had his slumps before, and he's the type of guy who will stoically try to break out of the funk on his own. He won't overreact or panic.

The Sox need the duo to carry their offense, with De Aza reaching base and Dunn driving him in. Dunn recognizes his role a lynchpin of the batting order. "I feel like that and I always have felt like that," Dunn said. "I put that much pressure on myself. That is why when things aren't going good I really take it personally."

So, these hot streaks are something. Sure, Jake Peavy's down, and sure, Paul Konerko has been sapped of all his power, and sure, the Sox are being written off by everyone (but not this blogger). But at least they're righting the ship in two problems areas.

 
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