Robin Ventura seems to be a pretty good manager, but he does have his quirks. In his rookie season as White Sox skipper last year, he usually hit Adam Dunn third. You’d generally prefer your third-place hitter to bat above .204 and strikeout fewer than 222 times.
So I’m happy to see that Ventura may be thinking about dropping Dunn in the order. (He’s had him hitting fourth and fifth in the early going in Arizona.) The fans at South Side Sox offer strong reasons for Dunn batting fifth, which have to do with the base stealing of those ahead of him in the order. They boil down to this: it’s usually not smart for someone to try to steal while Dunn’s at the plate. He doesn’t hit into many double plays (because he whiffs so often), reducing the benefit of stealing. And when he does make contact, the ball often flies over the fence, in which case it matters little if the runner was on first, second, or third.
Baseball statisticians have studied the matter and concluded that it makes less sense to steal when Dunn’s batting than it does with almost anyone else in the big leagues at the plate. You’d better be Rickey Henderson if you’re going to take off when Dunn’s up. (Henderson in his prime, that is; he’s 54 now, and may have lost a step.)