The Encouraging Start Of Dustin Ackley

Dave · May 16, 2011 at 9:58 am · Filed Under Mariners 

When April ended, Dustin Ackley’s season line for Tacoma read as .211/.336/.305, and the skeptics came out of the woodwork. His slender frame makes it easy to explain poor performances as simply the product of a guy who doesn’t hit the ball all that hard, so even pointing out that his line was driven by a crazy low BABIP wouldn’t satisfy them.

Thankfully, Ackley has responded with a monstrous May performance – after yesterday’s four hit game in New Orleans, his line for the month is now at .344/.453/.590. That said, a rebound in BABIP and a small power spike over two weeks shouldn’t be enough to shift opinions on his timetable or his eventual ceiling, and just as the April concern was misguided and premature, so too would be calling for his promotion based on an even smaller sample of success.

However, there is one area where Ackley is showing real improvement, and it’s something that should be quite encouraging to the Mariners – his ability to hit left-handed pitching. Ackley struggled against southpaws in college and in his professional debut last year, showing little to no power and essentially hoping for a walk to get on base. This year, however, he’s doing quite well against LHPs, with a line of .256/.434/.436. He’s still drawing a ton of walks as usual, but he’s also showing a bit of power, as five of his 10 hits against southpaws have gone for extra bases.

Being able to handle lefties was one of the main things he needed to work on down in Tacoma this year (along with his defense at second base), and the fact that he’s showing progress in that area is great news for the M’s. Ackley’s never going to hit for the kind of power that will make him a masher against right-handed pitcher, so he can’t really afford to post a huge platoon split. He has the swing and the plate coverage to be the kind of hitter who can succeed against same-handed pitchers, but he just hadn’t done it up until this year.

We’re still only talking about 50 plate appearances, but he’s doing things against southpaws that he hasn’t done before. That’s a pretty good sign for the future, and gives more reason for optimism that he might be able to make an immediate impact once he comes up from Tacoma.


22 Responses to “The Encouraging Start Of Dustin Ackley”

  1. IwearMsHats on May 16th, 2011 10:08 am

    Early June? Him and Guti in the lineup would be, it’s hard to put in to words how much better the lineup would look. Ichiro Figgins Guti Smoak Cust, Olivo, Ackley, Saunders, Wilson/Ryan/Rodriguez

  2. robbbbbb on May 16th, 2011 11:20 am

    Anyone heard any rumors on timetable for Ackley? We’re coming up on the cutoff date for arbitration status. Will he be up immediately after that, or do the M’s have some more things they want him to work on?

    How is that defense at second base, anyway?

  3. spankystout on May 16th, 2011 11:30 am

    Wedge should either start Luis, or call up Ackley. Either way Jack Wilson at 2B is not helping this team; and it may be time to cut him loose.

  4. greentunic on May 16th, 2011 11:47 am

    I think Wilson can go. His BA isn’t TERRIBLE so a team may actually give us something for him (or give us almost nothing and take a good part of his salary).

  5. Ibuprofen on May 16th, 2011 11:54 am

    I’m not and have not been worried about Ackley’s batting this year. What I’m worried about is him being decent at 2B. Any word on how that’s going?

  6. themedia on May 16th, 2011 12:03 pm

    Awesome. Awesome to the max.

  7. Westside guy on May 16th, 2011 12:09 pm

    I don’t have a problem with Wilson, but in a year where we’re not really competitive I don’t see any persuasive reason for holding onto him once Ackley comes up. We’ve already got a competent backup or two; plus it’s not like Wilson has been durable in the past – I’d think durability would be a consideration when it comes to your backup infielder.

    I’m excited at the possibility of seeing another one of our “kids” soon! I know a lot of people have been frustrated lately; but I still believe this team is significantly more watchable than last year’s collection of aging veterans. I’m just steeling myself in preparation for the “oh, noes, another bust” posts if Ackley comes up and isn’t immediately hitting .400; or – gasp! – makes an error.

  8. B13a on May 16th, 2011 12:15 pm

    I’m just steeling myself in preparation for the “oh, noes, another bust” posts

    I think that will be worst part of when Dustin Ackley is struggling. It’s like no one has any patience anymore these days.

    Smoak-Pineda-Ackley…it’s all starting to come together…

  9. jjracoon on May 16th, 2011 12:19 pm

    I’ve started seeing posts from out of area people who think Ackley is being overinflated as a player. Are we being homers in our reaction to him based on having seen so many bums play lately?? I guess what I’M wondering Dave does he seem like a Dustin Pedroia or a Joey Cora as far as talent??

  10. lamlor on May 16th, 2011 12:35 pm

    Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik said Monday that Dustin Ackley will be promoted “sooner rather than later.”

    That was just posted on Rotoworld an hour ago. They also said Guti will be back next Monday per Jack Z.

  11. Westside guy on May 16th, 2011 12:45 pm

    jjracoon – is there a reason these “out of area people” would have significant knowledge regarding Dustin Ackley?

  12. Celadus on May 16th, 2011 1:12 pm

    Westside guy:

    By “out of area people” he may be referring to those bloggers who post top 100, 50, etc. lists and those who make triple slash predictions.

    From my admittedly few observations of Ackley, it has appeared to me that he has been concentrating on improving weaknesses such as against left-handed pitching as mentioned above, as opposed to just hitting the snot out of any ball he can.

    This leads me to hope that in fact he is being underrated, at least as a hitter.

  13. DarkKnight1680 on May 16th, 2011 2:41 pm

    There is a sizable part of my that wants to forget Ackley at 2B and send him back to the OF. I’m not very enthused about the M’s Minor League OF group, to say the least, but there are at least 3 likable middle infielders (Seager, Triunfel, Franklin). Seager in particular has done nothing but wail on the ball. Seems a shame that his OF playing college teammate may block him from getting to Seattle, especially with the lack of up-and-coming OFs in the system.

  14. diderot on May 16th, 2011 3:08 pm

    I share the same concerns, but there’s no reason I can see not to give Ackley 50 games or so at second to see what he can do there (I’m skeptical). If he shows he can’t hack it, there certainly is no fixture blocking him from left field. On the other hand, if he manages defensively, he’s worth a lot more at second than in the OF.
    And if Seager forces his way onto the big team, they’ll find a place.

  15. Ed on May 16th, 2011 3:37 pm

    Right. If Seager just keeps hitting (and while I’ve seen some doubters, the front office sure seems to like him), you see if he can either handle 3B (he’s already played a decent chunk of his minor league games there) or hack it as a McLemore-esque super sub. Or see if he’s got a shot in LF. Or, if his bat winds up that irrepressible, at DH.

    Even if Ackley pans out as well as we all hope he does, the team will have plenty of holes to fill.

  16. Kazinski on May 16th, 2011 4:44 pm

    Unless anybody thinks Ackley will be a plus CF, he is much more valuable with his skillset at 2b than he would be as a corner outfielder. We can pick up a corner outfielder on the FA market for a lot cheaper than we could get a 2nd baseman with a high offensive upside.

    Unless of course you think we don’t need a new 2b, and should stand pat with Wilson/Rodriguez/Kennedy.

    When Ackley comes up though he should be given plenty of time to adjust. Don’t forget last year Smoak and Saunders were pretty much the same player:
    6.6 % 30.1 % .168 .239 .287 .407 .304
    10.7 % 29.1 % .156 .211 .295 .367 .296

    This year they’re not.

  17. DarkKnight1680 on May 16th, 2011 6:16 pm

    I just find it funny that we now have to talk about Seager in the OF and Ackley at 2B when Ackley played OF and Seager played 2B…on the same college team.

    If Triunfel keeps coming along, but can’t stick at short…and Franklin comes along…and Rendon enters the picture…and Seager keeps it going…they may wish they’d stuck with Ackley as a CF. His bat would probably be a bit further along right now as well, not having to learn a whole new position and all that.

  18. IwearMsHats on May 16th, 2011 6:36 pm

    Seager will be traded. That’s what my thought is.

  19. dnc on May 16th, 2011 8:38 pm

    I just find it funny that we now have to talk about Seager in the OF and Ackley at 2B when Ackley played OF and Seager played 2B…on the same college team.

    Out of over 200 games in college Ackley played all but 16 of them at first base. He was not really a college outfielder.

  20. The Ancient Mariner on May 17th, 2011 6:37 am

    At this point, Kyle Seager’s still working on convincing the skeptics — he’s not a guy you rearrange your system around; and given that he seems to field best at third, there doesn’t seem to be reason to regret putting Ackley at second.

    As for CF, it’s important to remember the reason he was playing 1B for the Heels, and the reason many scouts didn’t think he’d stick in center: his arm injury. Not only is it uncertain whether he has the arm strength to play well out there, he’d be at increased risk of hurting it again. I’m sure a lot of the reason for moving Ackley to the keystone was the desire to get a good LH hitter at the position — particularly important given the need for a lefty-heavy lineup in Safeco — but I’m betting that part of it, too, was minimizing the stress on his arm. Yeah, second base can have a way of shortening careers, but so can repeated arm injuries.

  21. rmarshall on May 17th, 2011 9:44 am

    I agree leave Ackley at 2nd and draft Bubba Starling to take over in CF when Guti is done. The kid is a beast.

  22. Carson on May 17th, 2011 11:38 am

    Three more hits so far today, including a homer launched off the first pitch of the game.

    So, is a call from the player’s union expected soon?

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.