SI.com's Jacob Luft takes a poke at answering a few baseball questions.
What would be the best way to describe Adam Dunn's season?
If it seems like all Adam Dunn does is walk, strike out or homer, it's because that is all he does.
Bizarre is probably the right word. Or maybe... freakish.
For every yin to Dunn's season, there is an equally appalling yang. He is tied for the major league lead in home runs with 22. Too bad his batting average is a microscopic .203.
He has drawn enough walks, 41, to produce a respectable on-base percentage of .336. At the same time, he strikes out enough to make air conditioning in the Greater Cincinnati area obsolete. Dunn has whiffed 83 times, putting him on pace to shatter Bobby Bonds' single-season record of 189. That is, if Colorado's Jose Hernandez (95 K's) doesn't get there first.
At his current pace, this is what his stat line will look like for the season:
HR: 52; SO: 197; BB: 97: Avg: .202; OBP: .335.
Has anybody had a year like this? The first name that comes to mind is Dave Kingman, but he never walked more than 62 times in a season. In his most Dunn-like season, in 1982, Kingman hit .204 with 37 home runs and 156 strikeouts. But he only walked 59 times that season, giving him a brutal OBP of .285. Rob Deer was another all-or-nothing slugger, but he didn't have anywhere near Dunn's power, topping out at 33 HR in 1986.
There only have been six players in history who have met the following criteria in a season: lower than a .260 batting
average, at least 35 home runs, 100 strikeouts and 90 walks.
Been There, Dunn That
But even these guys were comfortably above the Mendoza line. Dunn doesn't really belong in this group as long as he is hitting .202. It is reasonable to think some hits will start dropping for him and he will end up in the .230s somewhere, if not higher. That will be especially true if he starts swinging at all the called third strikes he's taking -- he is second in the NL in pitches seen per plate appearance.
But for now, he is carving out a whole new type of player, the kind that posts a really, really, low batting average with massive power and a great batting eye that helps him draw walks but can't stop him from striking out 200 times.
Is David Wells a control freak?
Wells would sooner run a marathon than walk a batter. At least, that's the way he's pitching this season. After a complete-game, zero-walk victory against Tampa Bay on Tuesday, his walk total through 100 2/3 innings this season is four. Carl Pohlad isn't that stingy.
To put Wells' precision in perspective, consider that Los Angeles' Kazuhisa Ishii has walked at least four batters in a game six times this season. Cincinnati's Ryan Dempster walked six in an inning on April 30 at Coors Field.
At this rate, Wells will set at least a pair of significant records for control. His rate of 0.36 walks per nine innings would shatter Babe Adams' 1920 mark of 0.62 (min. 150 IP), and his strikeouts/walks ratio of 12.75 will surpass Curt Schilling's 9.58 set last season.
Is the AL Central a three-team race?
The demise of the Royals has been greatly exaggerated. Sure, Kansas City slumped badly after a 16-3 start, but that had a lot to do with its schedule. The Royals went 12-26 to fall below .500 on June 5, but 20 of those losses came to the Red Sox, Mariners, A's, Dodgers, Blue Jays and Twins. Now the Royals are back within two games of the Twins after beating them in the first two of a four-game series, and the White Sox are showing signs of life after winning six out of 10. Even though the South Siders have played like zombies most of the year, they're capable of making up 6.5 games on the Twins if its trio of Bartolo Colon, Esteban Loaiza and Mark Buehrle all get hot at once.
Should the Braves get an asterisk for their 1995 championship?
Phil Jackson might be onto something with his notion that titles won in strike-shortened seasons should carry an asterisk. Lest we forget, the only World Series this Braves' run has produced came in 1995, which was shortened to 144 games because of the lingering 1994 strike/lockout. And the 1981 Dodgers deserve a big, fat, super-sized asterisk on their World Series trophy as well.
After the strike took 713 games out of the schedule, it was decided the division races would be decided minor-league style, with first- and second-half champions. The Dodgers won the first half and the Astros the second, leaving the team with the best overall record in the division -- the Reds -- out of the playoffs. Los Angeles went on to win the Series despite finishing second in its own division.
Who else should end their feuds?
In honor of the Hatfields and McCoys signing a truce, maybe major leaguers should follow suit. Jose Mesa and Omar Vizquel, how about a handshake? Dusty Baker and Giants owner Peter Magowan, put 'er there, will ya? You think Cliff Floyd would have signed with the Mets if Bobby Valentine were still managing? No chance. But Bobby V is doing TV now, so it's all good. What do you say, Cliffy? And how about Mike Piazza and Roger Clemens? That one might simmer for a while longer. But Piazza-Guillermo Mota? Give peace a chance.