- The Washington Times - Friday, September 18, 2009

PHILADELPHIA | There are few ballplayers who can claim to have produced at a level as consistent throughout their careers as Adam Dunn, who might as well pencil in 40 homers and 100 RBI as his final stat line every Opening Day.

Dunn’s first season with the Washington Nationals has followed true to form; he is sitting on 37 homers and 99 RBI with 16 games to play.

In addition to those power numbers, though, Dunn this season has added a hefty batting average for the first time in his career. A .247 hitter in eight previous seasons, he’s hitting .280 this year.

“I’ve been able to be consistent,” he said. “And when I did struggle, I didn’t struggle for too long. I think that’s why it is what it is.”

Dunn always believed he could hit for a higher average, and he believes some minor tweaks to his swing suggested by hitting coach Rick Eckstein helped make it possible this season. But he also has been surprised to find out a higher average hasn’t translated to higher offensive numbers in other departments.

“Everything’s the exact same as it always is except the average is 30 points higher,” he said. “To me, it tells me that batting average really means nothing. Really, in my opinion it doesn’t mean anything. Every number is the same, except my average is up.”

That’s why Dunn, who got a rare night off Thursday, puts more stock in his on-base percentage than any other stat. His .410 mark ranks sixth in the National League.

Despite posting the kind of consistent numbers that could earn him Hall of Fame consideration if he keeps this up another seven or eight years, Dunn isn’t content to rest on his track record. He believes he’s still improving as a hitter.

“Oh yeah,” he said. “This is just scratching the surface.”

Livan impresses

Count Jim Riggleman among the newest members of the “Livan Hernandez Fan Club.”

The Nationals interim manager had seen the veteran right-hander pitch only a handful of times but has come to appreciate his ability since Hernandez joined Washington’s rotation last month. Hernandez is 1-3 with a 4.18 ERA in five starts, but those numbers are a bit misleading. He has been credited with four quality starts.

“I couldn’t have thought he’d be this good,” Riggleman said. “Because if he was going to pitch this good, he wouldn’t have been available. He’s just really been outstanding. I just have a lot of confidence when he’s out there.”

Extra bases

With Dunn on the bench, Mike Morse got his first start of the season at first base. Riggleman had been looking for ways to get the utilityman into the lineup but struggled to find an available spot for him. …

Ian Desmond started at second base for the third time in four games. The rookie infielder, who had played only shortstop as a professional until this week, now has 10 hits in 20 big league at-bats.

Copyright © 2019 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide