Adam Dunn has struck out in every game he's played since May 7, which leaves him two games away from tying his personal record.
With four strikeouts yesterday, Dunn accomplished the feat of striking out in 14 consecutive games with gusto. He recorded a strikeout in 13 straight games back in April, posting a .433 OPS during that span.
The good news is that Dunn has a .761 OPS during his current 14-game streak. And this territory isn't foreign to Canyonero, who struck out in 14 consecutive games in 2004, 15 in 2010 and 16 from the end of 2010 to opening day 2011.
Strikeouts are hardly a reliable failure barometer for Dunn, who posted an .804 OPS during that 16-game whiff streak and a .945 OPS during his 14-game stretch in 2004. In fact, Dunn has the most doubles (eight) of any strikeout streak of 10 or more games during his current stretch.
But the worrisome part of this current 14-gamer is that Dunn has taken just two walks—a low for any streak of 10 or more games. That's a pretty clear-cut sign that Dunn well off his game—as if his golden sombrero from Saturday afternoon wasn't enough indication.
What it might take to get Dunn back on track is a little early-count aggression. According to Texas Leaguers' pitch f/x database, Dunn is seeing a fastball—either two-seam or four-seam—on 61.5 percent of first pitches. Of those pitches, Dunn is swinging at about 27 percent of them, so about one in every four at-bats will Dunn hack at the first pitch.
Most of those fastballs are strikes, too. If Dunn can expect to see a fastball in the strike zone more often than not to lead off an at-bat, why not swing away at it? Yes, his approach in his career has been to work the count and wait for a perfect pitch to drive over the fence, but right now, that's not working. I'd like to see Dunn get aggressive early in the count and really try to hammer a few fastballs.
On 0-1 and 1-0, Dunn has seen fewer fastballs, but the fastball percentage for each still hangs at or above 50 percent. The same actually goes for quite a few counts, though, so I'd like to see Dunn swing at more first pitches just to give himself the best chance of driving a fastball.
That's one way for Dunn to get back to normal. So far this season, Dunn has been below average on heaters. If that holds up, it'd be the first time in Dunn's career that he'd be a below-average hitter on fastballs.
Get aggressive and try to hit fastballs early in the count. That's my suggestion to kickstart Dunn—if he starts driving the ball using that strategy, then he can work back into the patient hitter who makes the pitcher give him a pitch to hit. But for now, Dunn has to swing at something he can handle, and that's a first-pitch fastball.