Adam Dunn famously doesn’t swing a bat during the offseason and that approach has certainly worked for a long time, as he came into this season with an OPS above .800 in each of his first 10 years.
However, with Dunn going through an epic collapse that includes a .165 batting average and league-leading 143 strikeouts in 97 games this season the struggling slugger told Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune that he plans to change his offseason approach “to not let this happen again.”
It seems unlikely that not hitting during the offseason has finally caught up to Dunn a decade into his big-league career, but given how horrible he’s been and how much money the White Sox still owe him through 2014 it’s good to see a willingness to do whatever the team asks. Basically, when you hit during the season you can get away with not hitting at all during the offseason, but when that’s no longer the case it can’t hurt to pick up a bat in December.
What’s amazing about Dunn’s collapse is that at no point has he gotten hot for even a few weeks at a time, with month-by-month batting averages of .160, .204, .136, .145, and .167. May is the only time he topped a .600 OPS and his overall mark versus left-handed pitchers is a ridiculous 3-for-78 (.038) with zero homers and 35 strikeouts.
Kurt Suzuki will wear a Braves’ uniform through the 2018 season after signing a one-year, $3.5 million extension with the club on Saturday, per The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal. Rosenthal adds that the two had been in talks for weeks and Suzuki made it clear that he wanted to remain in Atlanta for the foreseeable future. The team has yet to announce the extension.
Suzuki, 33, initially signed a one-year contract with the Braves back in January. The veteran backstop stepped into a backup role behind starting catcher Tyler Flowers, but still found a way to impress at the plate with a .271/.343/.525 batting line, career-best 18 home runs and an .868 OPS through 287 PA. According to FanGraphs, Suzuki’s 2.2 fWAR makes 2017 his most valuable season since his run with the 2009 Athletics.
It’s a prudent move for the Braves, who would have lost one of their most dynamic second-half hitters to the free agent market this offseason. Entering Saturday, Suzuki is second only to Freddie Freeman with 11 homers and 1.4 fWAR since the All-Star break. His stunning comeback also confirmed the team’s decision to look outside the organization for a backup catcher, rather than turning to fellow veteran Anthony Recker behind the plate.
“On a personal level, this season exceeded my expectations,” Suzuki told reporters on Wednesday. “It’s just one of those things I can’t explain. I put a lot of work in and really didn’t have a job until late January. I got an opportunity here and took advantage of it. It was definitely a good fit.”
Tigers’ outfielder Mikie Mahtook is unlikely to play again this season, club manager Brad Ausmus announced Saturday. Mahtook was diagnosed with a Grade 2 left groin strain following Friday’s series opener against the Twins, when he appeared to injure himself after chasing down Byron Buxton‘s two-RBI double in the fourth.
This is the second time Mahtook has sustained a groin injury over the past month. The 27-year-old exited Friday’s game with a .276/.330/.457 batting line, 12 home runs and a .787 OPS through 379 plate appearances with the team.
With the Tigers out of contention, there’s no reason to trot out Mahtook for the remaining eight games of the regular season. The club has yet to specify a timetable for his return, but there’s no reason to believe he won’t be in fine shape to compete for a starting role next spring.