For all the criticism White Sox slugger Adam Dunn endured last year, by far the worst year in his 12-year career, he overcame his struggles to become a force in the lineup.
Following his All-Star performance this season, The Sporting News named Dunn the American League Comeback Player of the Year on Tuesday.
“I definitely knew I was capable of it, but looking back now, first off it’s an award I hope I never win again,” Dunn said. “It’s bittersweet because one of two things has to happen to win this award, and that’s you’re injured for probably most of the year or you have a really bad, terrible season.”
Since the award’s inception in 1965, Dunn is the fifth Sox player to be named AL Player of the Year by The Sporting News. Dunn hit .204 with 41 home runs – his most since 2004 with the Reds (46) – 96 RBI, 87 runs scored and a major-league leading 105 walks.
“Adam is one of the best clubhouse guys I have been around, and it’s nice to see that his hard work paid off,” White Sox Manager Robin Ventura said in a press release. He is deserving of the honor.”
While Dunn said he was honored to win the award, he felt his teammates Jake Peavy and Alex Rios were more deserving. He specifically pointed to Rios’ ability to carry the Sox most of the season, ultimately finishing with a .304 batting average, 25 home runs and 91 RBIs.
“Without him, we would have been sunk,” Dunn said of Rios.
Despite his turnaround season, Dunn isn’t satisfied with his 2012 performance. Dunn, who has never played in the postseason, was disappointed he couldn’t help the Sox secure the division title.
“It’s one of those that it doesn’t matter what you do if you don’t reach the ultimate goal; it’s a wasted year,” Dunn said. “The good thing is, going into spring next year, I feel like I have a lot better base to work during the offseason on as far as I know what I need to fix.”
Even though weeks have passed since the Sox’s season ended, Dunn said, looking back, he considers the year a disappointed for the team despite putting together a better season than many outside the organization expected. To add to the pain of missing the playoffs, the Detroit Tigers’ appearance in the World Series is “pouring salt into the wound.”
“I think I can speak for everybody in that locker room that there were obviously some good things, a lot of young guys got to do this and that, but for the most part for the team it was a disappointment,” Dunn said.