Eric Wedge Thinks Dustin Ackley is Our Fault

Dave · May 28, 2013 at 12:20 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

The man just keeps getting better and better. Here’s a quote from Wedge on Dustin Ackley‘s struggles, as published on

Wedge was talking about Ackley’s demotion to Triple-A and his mental approach, and he intimated that Ackley might have been too concerned with pitch selectivity and high on-base percentage, leading to a one-liner that hit on one of baseball’s most intriguing ongoing philosophical battles.

“It’s the new generation. It’s all this sabermetrics stuff, for lack of a better term, you know what I mean?” Wedge said. “People who haven’t played since they were 9 years old think they have it figured out. It gets in these kids’ heads.”

Hear that, everyone? We’ve gotten in Dustin Ackley’s head. His struggles over the last year and a half? Sabermetrics is to blame, what with all of our promoting “on base percentage” and “swinging at strikes”. Dustin Ackley’s failure is because all these new age ideas have gotten in his head.

Which, of course, perfectly explains why Ackley is posting the lowest walk rate of his career this season. His focus on drawing walks and getting on base has caused him to not draw walks nor get on base. We’re ruining everything!

Except, you know, here’s a thing Mathew Carruth wrote about Dustin Ackley on FanGraphs last summer.

On the other hand, when it comes to called strikeouts, Ackley has had a tougher go. His patience at the plate, some might deem it passiveness, has seen him post higher than average called strikeout rates at every level, ballooning somewhat in his years in the Majors. Dustin is no Drew Stubbs (10% of Stubbs’ PAs have ended in a called strikeout), but Ackley’s rate was 7.5% last year and is 6.4% this year whereas the average is about 4.5%.

Having visually watched Dustin Ackley for a little over a year now, that is not surprising either. The most vexing problem has been watching him take, and get called, on the so-called lefty strike repeatedly. Ackley has seemed a bit obstinate in accepting that, though technically not a strike by the book, the rule book isn’t the meaningful arbiter, the home plate umpire is.

As pitchers got to know Ackley, it appears that he may have developed a reputation that he had a weak spot there and he began to see more and more pitches in that location. It dipped back at the beginning of this season, but quickly climbed back up and has stayed above average for the rest of the season. Pitchers were, intentionally or not, exploiting Ackley’s weakness.

Using “sabermetrics”, Carruth (among many others) noted that Ackley takes a ton of called strikes on the outer half of the plate, and wrote that to be successful, Ackley would have to start swinging at these pitches more often. Yes, a sabermetric nerd suggested that Dustin Ackley was too passive at the plate. Huh. What do you know?

The idea that “all these people who haven’t played since they were 9 years old” have gotten in Dustin Ackley’s head by telling him to not swing at strikes is hilarious. We’ve been writing about Ackley’s weaknesses on the outer half of the plate for quite a while. I’m pretty sure that you won’t find any sabermetric thinkers who believe that taking called strikes in the same location over and over is a good offensive philosophy.

If you want to sum up the philosophy of “sabermetric thinking”, it’s basically take pitches out of the strike zone and swing at pitches in the strike zone. A lot of hitters swing too often, chasing pitches they have no chance of hitting with any authority. We would tell them all to try and be more selective. Some hitters don’t swing often enough, taking pitches down the middle in hitters counts when they should be trying to hit the crap out of meatballs. We would tell them all to try and be less selective.

You can probably make a pretty good case that Ackley has been too passive, though perhaps that’s the symptom and not the cause. Ackley’s swing has progressively become very pull-oriented, and he no longer covers the outer half of the plate very well. Perhaps Ackley isn’t swinging at pitches on the outer half because he knows he can’t hit them particularly well with his current swing. In that case, swinging more often wouldn’t be the solution; that would require an adjustment to his swing to get better coverage of the outer half of the plate.

But, what do I know, I haven’t played the game competitively since I was nine years old 18-years-old. Everyone knows that the only people capable of offering any kind of intelligent analysis of baseball players are those who have Major League experience. You know, like Eric Wedge. That’s what’s made him such a successful Major League manager, with his career record of 725 wins and 784 losses. And, you know, clearly Wedge knows how to develop young talent, since he helped all those young players turn into superstars in Cleveland.

Oh, wait, Cleveland’s young players didn’t develop as well as they were expected, and Wedge has had two winning seasons in 10 years as a big league manager. Hmm. Maybe experience isn’t the only thing that matters after all?

Eric Wedge is going to be fired in the not too distant future. That move, in and of itself, won’t turn around the Mariners franchise. But it won’t hurt.

And no, before you ask, I don’t think I could do a better job of managing a baseball team than Eric Wedge. His job is hard, and I’m not qualified to do it. But there are a lot of other people in baseball who are, and who know more about the game than Eric Wedge. The Mariners would be better off with someone who has actually learned something about the sport in the last 30 years rather than someone who thinks that all this new age numbers crap is getting into the heads of his hitters.


67 Responses to “Eric Wedge Thinks Dustin Ackley is Our Fault”

  1. DarkKnight1680 on May 28th, 2013 3:47 pm
  2. Des71 on May 28th, 2013 3:54 pm

    “We’re all just yahoos.”

    This rant by Eric Wedge was dumb. Why would you insult a fan base that has been steadily and historically declining for the past decade? Safeco Field is beautiful, but I’m not going to make a six hour trip to watch a bad baseball team led by a manager that blames the remaining fans for its lack of success.

  3. SeattleSlew on May 28th, 2013 3:56 pm

    I think a shirt that says “IM SORRY FOR RUINING DUSTIN ACKLEY” would be more appropriate.

  4. miscreant on May 28th, 2013 3:58 pm

    Hey Wedge, next time you have a Yahoo moment remember “It is better to keep your mouth closed and let people think you are a fool than to open it and remove all doubt”

  5. greentunic on May 28th, 2013 4:17 pm

    Dave, from what you can observe, who do you think the best manager in baseball might be? Joe Maddon perhaps? I notice you seem to like him quite a bit.

  6. Kazinski on May 28th, 2013 4:19 pm

    I’ve never heard Sabermetrician say that someone with a 90% Z contact rate should watch 50% of the pitches in the zone go by him into the catchers mitt.

  7. DarkKnight1680 on May 28th, 2013 4:34 pm
  8. Bremerton guy on May 28th, 2013 4:37 pm

    Dave Schoenfield at just posted an opinion piece saying that Wedge should be fired. Sorry I don’t know how to link it here, but here’s the long web address:

  9. TomC on May 28th, 2013 4:53 pm

    Hey Wedge, here is a basic statistic: teams that score more runs than the other team win the game.

    It seems this sort of statistical thinking, however, might be getting in the player’s heads. Best to root it out before it causes problems.

  10. henryv on May 28th, 2013 4:59 pm

    Cut to Jack Z’s office:

    Z: Okay, guys, what’s up.
    Ackley: Uhhhh… I’m, like, angry at numbers.
    Wedge: Yeah, there’s like, too many of them and stuff.

    (In full respect to Beavis and Butthead.)

  11. MrZDevotee on May 28th, 2013 5:18 pm

    Ackley: The smart kids are controlling my thoughts!

    Wedge: Plus, their batting average with RISP is, like, awful– not a single hit, since the 3rd grade. Huh-huh… I mean, like THAT’s helping the team?

    (So is Wedge about to go into a “I am the great corn-holio!” rant any day now, with his jersey pulled up over his head? I would pay to see that… )

  12. stevemotivateir on May 28th, 2013 8:09 pm

    Wedge’s statement just shows how far gone he is. If that’s the best excuse he can come up with to explain Ackley’s struggles, he’s already lost his job. I doubt the front office cared for that comment any less than any of us.

    Wouldn’t it be funny if Chuck, Howard, and whoever the GM is at the time -wears one of Milton’s shirts the day they fire him?!

  13. vj on May 29th, 2013 3:22 am

    Everybody seems to be assuming that Wedge pulled this statement out of his behind. Can we exclude that the statement is really based on discussions he or the coaching staff had with Ackley?

  14. scraps on May 29th, 2013 4:13 am


    It’s all this sabermetrics stuff, for lack of a better term, you know what I mean?

    In other words, Wedge is pulling the “sabremetrics stuff” out of his ass, yes.

  15. refusetolose on May 29th, 2013 5:53 am


    Sabremetrics isn’t to “blame” but lauding his plate knowledge is not doesn’t help.

    In 2009, major league hitters hit:
    .156 in 0-2 counts
    .171 in 1-2 counts
    .189 in 2-2 counts
    .233 in 3-2 counts

    Dustin Ackley takes a lot of strikes (37% called strike rate) and consistently puts himself in 2 strike counts. If you take pitches, especially strikes, which major league pitchers are capable of throwing, you are going to find yourself in these counts more often than not. Hence the low BA.

    Furthermore, mechanically–Ackley has an unbelievably open stance. What does this mean? It means he can’t hit the inside pitch well.

    Hitters sight as giving them a better view of the inside pitch, maybe, but all it does is mean that when he strides, he’s striding into the plate, rather than out to the pitcher.

    What this does is mean than on any inside pitch he has to step in to the plate and swing at the same time. Tough task.

    Strong players like Frank Thomas could just stay open and muscle those balls, he can’t.

    His problem lies with his reluctance to hit fastballs early in the count and his setup giving him a distinct weak spot in the strike zone.

  16. stevemotivateir on May 29th, 2013 10:21 am

    Sabremetrics isn’t to “blame” but lauding his plate knowledge is not doesn’t help.

    So, it’s still the fault of everyone else for noticing flaws and discussing them? You realize non-sabermetric guys/fans/scouts/players/etc. can make the same observations and state the same things, right?

    So should nobody ever discuss a players flaws for fear of him possibly hearing it? If a player is so sensitive that a discussion within blogs gets to him, imagine what the effects from his manager -someone he sees, hears, and deals with nearly everyday- must have on him.

  17. smb on May 29th, 2013 10:26 am

    Actually, to me there’s very little doubt that this team would be performing at least slightly better with DC as manager.

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