Leyland not shy in admiration for Dunn

Leyland not shy in admiration for Dunn

Leyland not shy in admiration for Dunn
DETROIT -- Tigers manager Jim Leyland and closer Jose Valverde couldn't have been happier with the first out of the ninth inning during Friday night's 4-2 win over the White Sox. A flyout by Kevin Youkilis meant the bases would be empty for Adam Dunn, which in turn meant even a home run couldn't tie the game.

Both the manager and closer have seen what Dunn is capable of. The last time Valverde squared off against the White Sox designated hitter at Comerica Park, it resulted in a 438-foot homer -- according to ESPN -- that sailed over the right-field bleachers and onto the concourse.

It was a two-run shot that also resulted in Valverde's first loss and second blown save of the season.

Despite batting .205 entering Saturday, Dunn was tied for the Major League lead in home runs with 28. And putting aside last season, the worst of the slugger's career, Leyland has the utmost respect for the 32-year-old Dunn.

"He's one of the best power hitters in the game," Leyland said of Dunn. "After that first-year initiation over there -- new team, new contract and everything -- he's really settled back in. He's one of the best power hitters I've been around. He can strike at any time."

Dunn can also strike out at any time, as he paces the league with 142 K's.

However, even with Dunn's strikeouts, Leyland said the DH knows the strike zone and rarely swings at a bad pitch. That has led Dunn to lead the Majors in another category: walks.

"He doesn't swing at balls very often," Leyland said. "He's had a lot of walks in his career. That's what makes him so dangerous. If he's just a free-swinging guy who swings at everything, that's different. But when you know the strike zone with that kind of power, that's dangerous."

Dunn entered Saturday with eight hits against Detroit this season, three of which were home runs. But Tigers pitchers hadn't issued a walk, and he had struck out 17 times.

Dunn is the prime example of a three-result player, as most of his at-bats result in a homer, a walk or a strikeout. Of his 66 hits, 28 have gone out of the park, good for 42 percent.

There might be only a few facets to Dunn's game, but it doesn't make him any less of a threat in Leyland's mind.

"He's one of the most dangerous power hitters in baseball, and he has been for a long time, in my opinion," Leyland said.

And that's coming from someone who watches Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder daily.