Originally posted on Baseball Professor  |  Last updated 2/5/12

Adam Dunn’s 2011 season was quite possibly one of the most shocking and disappointing fantasy seasons I’ve ever witnessed. His 2011 season was as useful as a square wheel. He was traditionally bankable for 35-40 homers and 110-120 RBI a season. What did we get last year?

Well, Dunn put up the following numbers in 2011: .159 AVG, 11 HR, 42 RBI, 36 runs, .569 OPS. Those who had the misfortune of owning him last year may now take a needed moment of silence.

Dunn’s previous career lows weren’t even that dreadful. His previous low in homers was 26, and that was in 114 games. His lowest RBI total was 57 and his lowest average was .215. And as for lowest prior career OPS, it was .819 in 2003. His season wasn’t just bad, it was historically horrendous.

So, what does that mean for Dunn’s status entering 2012? Surely you should stay away, right? I am not of that school of thought when it comes to him this year. The truth is, if you can get him at a bargain, in the 15th round or later, then you might be getting a steal in the draft.

His 2010 season ended like this: 145 hits, 81 runs, 38 HR, 105 RBI, .260 batting average and an .892 OPS. He wasn’t that far removed from a useful fantasy season. If he did this prior to 2011, then what happened?

One big problem for Dunn had to be switching to the American League for the first time in his career. While some players take a little while to adjust to the pitching, Dunn took a whole season. With a terrible campaign like that behind him, you hope that Dunn will be motivated to shut all the haters up.

Dunn was a high-risk, high-reward player even before last season. You knew what you were getting: 40 home runs, 115 RBI but also a lot of walks and strikeouts. He was the epitome of a complimentary player and I think Dunn can rebound to be that again.

The White Sox as a whole might be an unknown in 2012 as Mark Buerhle, Carlos Quentin and former manager Ozzie Guillen are gone. Joining the lineup fulltime are unproven Dayan Viciedo, Bret Morel and Alejandro De Aza. Returning along with the disappointing Dunn are Alex Rios, Gordon Beckham and Alexei Ramirez. The only safe bet is the aging Paul Konerko.

The 2011 Chicago White Sox were undoubtedly underwhelming, so you’d like to think that new manager Robin Ventura wants to light fires under those who underachieved last year. Dunn should be extremely motivated to produce, so I think those to factors should help Dunn rebound to at least respectable numbers. Something like 25-30 homers, 85-95 RBI and a .240-.260 average aren’t out of the realm of possibility. Let’s not forget that he still hits in one of the friendlier home run parks in baseball. Factor in that he still maintains first base eligibility, and you certainly have a draft bargain in the later rounds.

If he starts hot, you look like a genius for drafting him. Then maybe you can turn him into something your team needs. If he tanks to begin your season, then you cut him and pick up someone else.

You can’t view Dunn as the player who hit 40 homers consistently, but he is a late-round bargain. If you are scared stay away, but taking a chance on him might be a more savvy strategy.

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