During the first season of his four-year, $56 million deal with the White Sox, Adam Dunn came dangerously close to failing to slug his own weight. The typical Three True Outcomes idol lost the power component entirely, hitting just 11 home runs and ranking dead last among batters with at least 450 plate appearances in slugging (.277). It was a shocking slide for the Big Donkey, who averaged 37 home runs and slugged .518 during his first nine years as a big league regular.
Dunn's power has returned with a vengeance in 2012, however. Dunn's slugging .494 and he leads the majors with 35 homers. His latest shot, a 434-foot drive off a Tim Collins fastball, made him a member of the 400 career HR club. It's fitting that Dunn's milestone came on a heater. While he couldn't turn on a fastball to save his life in 2011, Dunn is demolishing pitchers who challenge him this year.
Here's Dunn's fastball slugging percentage by pitch location last season, compared to the league average:
Dunn vs. fastballs, 2011
League average fastball slugging percentage
Unless pitchers threw one down the pike, Dunn didn't do much against fastballs. His .332 fastball slugging percentage in 2011 was nearly 80 points below the MLB average for non-pitchers (.406), and hit seven home runs. When he hit a fastball into the air, it was usually a can of corn: Dunn's average fly ball distance on fastballs was 259 feet, below the 264 foot average for non-pitchers.
Dunn's back to crushing fastballs in 2012, particularly those thrown on the outer half:
Dunn vs. fastballs, 2012
He has gone deep 23 times already against fastballs. And with a .620 slugging percentage against the heat, Dunn ranks in the top 15 among qualified hitters:
Highest slugging percentage vs. fastballs, 2012
His fly ball distance on fastballs has shot up to 298 feet, tied with Andrew McCutchen for sixth-highest among MLB batters. Suffice it to say, Dunn's not done slugging.