Adam Dunn, is by all means, having a terrific bounce-back season in 2012, after living a ball player’s nightmare for most of 2011. Dunn is also just off the pace to pull off one of the oddest and rarest Triple Crowns in history, as he leads all of baseball in each of the 3 true outcomes walks (81) and strikeouts (166) and homeruns (33). That also means an astonishing 57.8% of his 491 plate appearances have ended without the ball landing in the field of play. Only a meager handful of players in baseball history have ever approached that 57.8% mark, and according to Jonah Keri, only 5 players have ever won the homer/strikeout/walks Triple Crown, with the most recent being Dale Murphy in 1985. If you were wondering, Babe Ruth has done it on 4 separate occasions and is still the only player to accomplish this feat more than once. Will Adam Dunn add his name to the list? Let’s take a look:
Dunn currently has a very sizable lead in the strikeout race, pacing the American League with 167 total, 28 more than 2nd place Carlos Pena. Dunn is currently striking out in 34% of his at-bats this season. Chicago has 50 games left, and with Dunn striking out at the 2nd highest rate of his career (only in 2011 did Dunn strikeout more), it appears to be a safe bet that he wins the strikeout title. So with the strikeout crown safely in the bag let’s move onto walks.
Adam Dunn is currently 9 walks ahead of Tampa Bay’s Ben Zobrist, who is an entirely different type of ball player. Zobrist is excellent on defense, can play multiple positions well, and his job is to find any sort of way on base when he’s at the plate. Dunn, on the other hand, is payed to hit homers and to drive runs in. He currently walks in 16.7% of his plate appearances, nearly double the major league average. Barring an injury, Dunn will more than likely walk more than any other American League hitter, giving him 2 of the 3 categories.
But the homerun crown will be the most difficult, because the field of competitors is absolutely loaded. Dunn leads the American League with 33 homers after swatting two out against Toronto yesterday. Seven different American League hitters are within 4 homers of Adam Dunn, and that’s not including the injured Jose Bautista, who’s got 27 dingers and has been out the past couple of weeks with a severely strained forearm.
Dunn is hitting homers at an excellent rate, 1 per every 12.2 at bats, which is better than Josh Hamilton (1 per 12.9), Curtis Granderson (1 per 14.4), Edwin Encarnacion (1 per 13.8), and just slightly worse than Bautista (1 per 12.1 best in the majors).
Hamilton and Bautista would appear to be the biggest threats to win the homerun title. Hamilton is famous for going off on binges, similar to the one he had in mid-May, when he hit 8 homers in 7 games. Bautista has hit more homers over the past 3 season than anyone else in baseball, 30 more than the next closest competitor. Either player would be as good a bet as Adam Dunn to take the crown, making this category a toss-up. If Dunn continues to pile up homers at his current rate (1 every 12.2 at bats) he’s the best bet to win, because nobody in baseball with 400 at bats outside of the injured Bautista goes deep more frequently and Dunn has a 7 homerun lead on him. Even if he doesn’t win the 3-outcome Triple Crown, Dunn is still having one hell of a comeback season.