CHICAGO -- Poised to have the lowest batting average ever among players who qualify for a batting title, Adam Dunn's recent relegation to the bench could spare the Chicago White Sox designated hitter that inglorious fate.
In 1991, the Detroit Tigers' Rob Deer posted a .179 batting average that has stood as the lowest mark for 20 seasons now (the Elias Sports Bureau only recognizes negative stats since 1969 because the accuracy of negative stats before that isn't as definitive). Before that, Ivan DeJesus' .194 average with the Cubs 10 years earlier was the low-water standard.
Dunn, the White Sox's underachieving free agent acquisition this season, is batting .163 over 436 plate appearances. He pinch hit Wednesday, striking out with two on in the ninth inning of a 7-6 loss to the Minnesota Twins, but he figures to be on the bench for much of the final month.
Dunn would need 502 total plate appearances to officially be anointed the worst of the worst when it comes to batting average over a full season, and the plan the White Sox have laid out figures to save him from being a historical footnote.
It's not like it makes things any easier to swallow for Dunn, though.
"You might as well just pile everything on," said a frustrated Dunn. "Just get everything that can be as bad as it can be for me, just pile it all on. Hopefully somehow I'll end the year on a positive note and go through the offseason, pick it up next year, and do what I normally do."
If Dunn were still playing, his history suggests that it would have been hard for him to avoid Deer's mark. Dunn is a .222 career hitter in Sept./Oct., although that is an improvement over his current mark. Since 2008, Dunn is just a career .213 hitter in September.
Dunn figures to get at least some pinch-hit chances, but unless he becomes a starter again it isn't likely he hits the 502 plate appearance mark.
Through it all, Dunn keeps answering questions regarding his struggles, although he nearly turned one down Wednesday only to return and go through with it. He was asked how he has been able to be so patient with the daily questions which are never positive.
"I don't know, I have no idea dude," he said. "I'm pretty much over it right now to be honest with you. It is what it is. What else do you want me to do?"
Answering to his struggles isn't want he's paid for but at the very least he's been a straight shooter.
"The only thing I know is that when it does turn, that I'm hoping I'll be the same guy," he said. "I have to look at this. I have to look back in the offseason and really look at this and think about how I can never make this happen again."
Doug Padilla covers the White Sox for ESPNChicago.com.