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. deflep78 on May 28th, 2013 12:24 pm

    Sabermetric or not – Ackley flinches at every ball thrown on the outer half of the plate. Pretty sure that’s a problem regardless of how he got there.

  2. charliebrown on May 28th, 2013 12:30 pm

    It’s all my fault. I’ll take the blame.

    Do I have to go sit in the corner or something?


  3. The_Waco_Kid on May 28th, 2013 12:32 pm

    I wonder if Milton Bradley has more of those shirts

  4. ChrisFB on May 28th, 2013 12:35 pm

    Am I seriously supposed to believe that a major league athlete – someone who has been conditioned for half his life or more to be disciplined, focused, follow routine, have supreme self-confidence, etc. – is going to be distracted by online commentary or questions from random analysts and reporters about their OBP?

    I give Ackley the benefit of the doubt here. I don’t think he’s being distracted or has gotten anything into his head here. His coaches sure haven’t seemed to be putting anything in his head to compete for the space.

    May this latest nugget of nonsense from Wedge be some of the starting flailing of the end of his time with the M’s. I thought he had his strong points for managing personalities and generally resetting the club. But the evidence is getting overwhelming that, while this isn’t a championship organization certainly, there is a LOT of untapped talent in the ML and AAA level of that club. Wedge has had his chance to get through to these guys. The “Josh Bard’s Brother” jokes are stale now. Get someone else in there before Wedge ruins Zunino, Walker, Paxton, Hultzen, etc. too.

  5. Dave on May 28th, 2013 12:36 pm

    I wonder if Milton Bradley has more of those shirts

    This is maybe the best comment in USSM history.

  6. slimjim on May 28th, 2013 12:39 pm

    Taking Wedge’s comment a wee bit too serious. He’s making excuses for his struggling player. I suppose he could have said ‘Ackley’s going down because he’s too passive and we’re sick of it’ but his approach seems a bit better.

  7. wetzelcoatl on May 28th, 2013 12:41 pm

    My favorite thing about this is that Wedge is clearly trying to deflect blame for whatever is wrong with Ackley away from himself and his staff, but he has chosen to do it by arguing that Dave and you and I have a bigger impact on Ackley’s approach at the plate then his coaches do. So, even if what Wedge said was true, it would still make him a shitty manager.

  8. charliebrown on May 28th, 2013 12:42 pm

    I don’t remember anything about shirts and Milton Bradley. Anyone care to clue me in on the joke?

  9. ivan on May 28th, 2013 12:42 pm

    Wedge is a troll, and you took his bait.

  10. californiamariner on May 28th, 2013 12:43 pm

    I don’t think his comment can be taken serious enough actually. For him to come out and say something so petty in an effort to try to fight last decades battle shows you how unqualified he is to manage this team. We shouldn’t want a manager that says stuff like this.

  11. spuuky on May 28th, 2013 12:43 pm

    Milton Bradley wore a shirt said “F*** Eric Wedge” in the Indians clubhouse when Wedge was his manager.

  12. lemonverbena on May 28th, 2013 12:44 pm

    Wedge is broken.

  13. charliebrown on May 28th, 2013 12:44 pm

    Never mind. I googled it, and that is hilarious.

  14. Nik Aitken on May 28th, 2013 12:45 pm

    Eric Wedge believes something stupid. Haven’t heard that one before.

  15. nwade on May 28th, 2013 12:45 pm

    Dave – I’m glad you’re finally accepting responsibility for the way you’ve saddled this team with losing records the last 10 years. Its nice to see that Wedge is getting to you as much as you’re getting to his hitters; maybe you’ll leave the baseball scene so that the Mariners can resume their long history of winning and playoff baseball.

    …On a slightly more-serious/plausible note: Perhaps Ackley’s being too damn passive because he’s had to watch guys like Olivo flail at every pitch over his first few seasons in the big-leagues? He’s had plenty of “veteran grit” to watch, but no real role-models in the realm of plate-discipline.

  16. mrakbaseball on May 28th, 2013 12:46 pm

    Who’s going to fire Wedge? Zduriencik? He’s probably a lame duck himself.

  17. ChrisK on May 28th, 2013 12:48 pm

    Wedge is just upset that the sabermetrics nerds ruined all the veteran influence that Ibanez & Morse was having on Dustin.

  18. Typical Idiot Fan on May 28th, 2013 12:51 pm

    Major league manager and former player doesn’t care for sabermetrics? Surely you can’t be serious.

    Dave, you KNOW MLB is full of people like Wedge. You have said so yourself in the past that it is a “good ol boy’s” fraternity and slow as dirt to change. Why let this bug you?

  19. vertigoman on May 28th, 2013 12:51 pm

    Someone should tell Wedge that new fangled stat nerd du jour Branch Rickey invented OBP. Well, actually it was the stat geek he hired to gain a competitive advantage and play dolls with.
    That Branch Rickey just knows nothing ’bout the manly game of baseball.

  20. nickwest1976 on May 28th, 2013 12:59 pm

    You know, this guy named Billy Beane and the Oakland A’s have bought in to this “sabermetrics” thing. Funny enough, since 1999, the A’s have had 10 winning seasons (out of 14 seasons) and been to the playoffs 6 times…and with one of the smaller payrolls in baseball over most of those years.

    Eric Wedge is showing a lot of ignorance here. Instead of doing his homework and being open minded to ways of thinking that could enhance his managerial skills he is being closed minded…and well we have seen the results.

    Joe Maddon on the other hand has been a very forward thinking manager and we’ve seen those results in Tampa Bay. Of course that organization has that same overall philosophy.

  21. Bremerton guy on May 28th, 2013 1:03 pm

    I’m not a Wedge apologist, but I think it’s a bit unfair and disingenuous to point to his career managerial won-loss record as proof that he’s not a good manager. His first year at Cleveland was a total rebuild year, and we know what he’s been provided for position players his first two years here. If you throw out his first year at Cleveland he was 493-479. There’s lots of evidence that Wedge isn’t the answer for the M’s, if you want to make that argument. Pointing to his total won-loss record simply detracts from the valid evidence.

  22. Dobbs on May 28th, 2013 1:05 pm

    Wedge has completely failed to impress as a manager and appears to have had a negative effect on player acquisition, so I’ll be glad to see him gone sooner than later.

  23. gerrythek on May 28th, 2013 1:13 pm

    Sounds like Wedge is saying that Ackley is uncoachable. Hey Eric – do you really want to go with that?

  24. patl on May 28th, 2013 1:18 pm

    I sense a new USSM fundraiser opportunity. I’d buy a shirt and bumper sticker that said, “I broke Dustin Ackley.”

  25. littlelinny6 on May 28th, 2013 1:19 pm

    I think whoever is the manager inherits quite the mess. Going forward I see 3 championship level players (Felix, Iwakuma, Seager) that are signed beyond this year. I think Saunders could be part of the OF but who knows. Beyond that the cupboard is bare. It seems to me the M’s have go the FA route to get at least 2 OFs and 1 or 2 SPs just to be respecitable next year. I pegged the M’s for 75 wins before the year and nothing has happened to really change that prediction.

  26. terryoftacoma on May 28th, 2013 1:41 pm

    I’ve been waiting for this post since I saw Wedge’s quote because I knew it would come.

    Whenever someone says something foolish, you laugh and move on. They just proved themselves to be a fool.

    Name me one manager, not named Piniella, that people have though was a good manager for the M’s?


    I,too, place the M’s at about 75 wins and nothing has happened to change that yet.

  27. Vida Blue on May 28th, 2013 1:42 pm

    Not that Ackley necessarily has psychological problems, but obviously players CAN have psychological problems like everyone else. We were probably watching Milton Bradley go though the stages of a nervous breakdown while he was with the team.

    Personally, I’d write off what Wedge said about sabermetrics as a ploy to get Ackley to clear his head and focus. Sort of like the Robert Andino promotion was intended to get Ryan to focus.

  28. _David_ on May 28th, 2013 1:42 pm

    Dave, can you comment on aggressiveness and hitting development: specifically, might the fear of criticism for passivity cause a player to not go through the process of seeing pitches necessary to develop good pitch recognition? Even on a micro psychological level, if on every pitch there is a voice in the back of Ackley’s head telling him to err towards swinging at the pitch if it is borderline, could this distract from learning?

  29. jhatten927 on May 28th, 2013 1:54 pm

    I thought the promotion of Daren Brown was more than just to fill a need for a sick coach, I thought it was a bit of a message that put Wedgie on notice.

    I am ready to move on from this Yutz and was way before he decided to make spit this non sense out.

    Dave Martinez in 2014!

  30. Westside guy on May 28th, 2013 1:54 pm

    It’s funny how much Ackley’s problems sound exactly like Saunders problems pre-2012.

    – My name is Westside guy, and I broke Dustin Ackley.

  31. globalalpha on May 28th, 2013 1:54 pm

    “This is maybe the best comment in USSM history.”

    Wow. The main face of this website thinks a comment that does no more than tell someone to F-*** off is the best comment he has ever seen on this site???

    That is telling. I am flabbergasted.

  32. heyoka on May 28th, 2013 1:56 pm

    “People who haven’t played since they were 9 years old think they have it figured out.”

    Hasn’t that just always been the media? Can Ackley not handle the media?

    Hey Wedge, since there aren’t any fans in the seats, it’s time to go after the ones watching from afar. After them, who’s next?

  33. dgood on May 28th, 2013 2:06 pm
  34. Jon on May 28th, 2013 2:15 pm

    “The voodoo that you do.” The wit and wisdom of Eric Wedge. 2013.

  35. firova2 on May 28th, 2013 2:16 pm

    Thinking about Ackley’s actual problems as described above, I remember how much we all loved the concept of Ackley’s command of the strike zone, how he made pitchers throw his pitch and didn’t give in leading to a plus BB/K ratio. He seemed the opposite of just about every Mariner hitter–even the good ones like Ichiro. This was trumpeted from the time of the draft on. A couple of years on, that approach seems to have soured into a stubborn unwillingness to adjust to major league strike zones as called, leading to far too many 0-1, 0-2, and 1-2 counts, Sunday being the latest example. What was seen as a strength of his game has been turned into a weakness by opposing pitchers. So many times he has looked at first pitch strikes that seemed hittable. I would love to know whether this has been discussed at the major league level with him. He will not succeed, no matter what his swing looks like, if he refuses to play the baseball game as it is called, not as the rulebook writes it, right?

    On sabermetrics, Wedge is mouthing the idiocy of Times posters who crowed that OBP was a mistake–when the team OBP was the worst in the league, leading to the worst offense in recent decades.

  36. Snuffy on May 28th, 2013 2:19 pm

    Replacing Wedge now, just for the sake of change is a sideways move at best. That said, this should be Wedge’s last year with the M’s.
    Sure wish we would have hired Buck Showalter back in 2010.

  37. Adam S on May 28th, 2013 2:25 pm

    I’m pretty sure if “we” could get into players heads it would look a lot more like “An Open Letter to Felix” than Dustin Ackley ca 2012-2103.

    I realize there’s a need for the media to get along with the manager and players but why do we allow baseball people to use the “never played the game (since you were 9 years old)” line without making the person look like the fool they are? Does anyone say that Nate Silver has never held public office? Did anyone say Roger Ebert had never acted in or directed a major motion picture?

    Is there any other profession when analysts are so often criticized with “you never had this job”?

    More so, should Felix not listen to Wedge and Willis because neither has had a Cy Young caliber season? Should only career .300 hitters be batting coaches?

  38. Slats on May 28th, 2013 2:34 pm

    We’re all just yahoos.

  39. scraps on May 28th, 2013 2:54 pm

    globalalpha: You are humor-impaired.

  40. SonOfZavaras on May 28th, 2013 2:58 pm

    My name is SonOfZavaras, I played competitive baseball when I was 21…and I still broke Dustin Ackley.

    Seriously, Mr. Wedge…if other baseball organizations around you (like Tampa Bay and Oakland) have embraced a particular viewpoint and have had- comparable to the org that pays you- wild amounts of success with it…when do you NOT dismiss it as a flukey thing?

    I’ve never known a sabermetrician who was worth a damn to say that SABR had all the answers. They’re just- in most cases- the best tools we’ve ever had to measure performance. Not perfect tools, but better than what was used before.

    Hell with it. Sign me up for one a’ those T-shirts.

  41. msfanmike on May 28th, 2013 3:01 pm

    Well, you know Ackley did have an ankle problem which required surgery. And then there was the new stance. Then, the new swing. Then … all those balls being hit “right at defenders.” Then, he was just in a bad stretch.

    Not even in “Wedge-speak” would Wedge’s comments from yesterday make any sense … even to Wedge.

    Wedge is every bit the twitchy faced bug-eyed douche that he appears to be.

  42. Coug1990 on May 28th, 2013 3:04 pm

    I think Wedge just admitted that he has no leadership over his players. If Wedge believes that unknown people on the internet have more sway with Ackley than the manager that he sees every single day, then what good is having Wedge as the leader of the Mariners?

  43. scraps on May 28th, 2013 3:08 pm

    Bremerton guy: Well, if you throw out Wedge’s first season — which you can do for every season if you want, good and bad, it’s not the manager’s fault — what do you about two winning seasons in ten (excuse me, nine apparently)?

    And Wedge underperformed with the Indians; they were supposed to be good for years, and the young core didn’t perform. I groaned when Wedge was hired to take over the Mariners — and that was before he was in our faces, being dumb constantly.

  44. make_dave_proud on May 28th, 2013 3:10 pm

    “Eric Wedge is going to be fired in the not too distant future.”

    Can we get a “manager-bation” article/thread started?

  45. Shanfan on May 28th, 2013 3:14 pm

    What bothers me are all of these athletes who haven’t used math since they were 9 years old getting into my head. Now I can’t add.

  46. PackBob on May 28th, 2013 3:18 pm

    Well it sure has ruined Joey Votto.

  47. Athanasius on May 28th, 2013 3:27 pm

    “Wedge is a troll, and you took his bait.”

    Well said. The commentary in this post is in line with the “analysis” of this author over the last few weeks — subjective, emotive and reactionary.

  48. MrZDevotee on May 28th, 2013 3:29 pm

    Hey, don’t sweat it… Those baseball players are all talk. You’re still pretty good at everything but the numbers on the outside corner.

    We can send you back to college for a few months if you don’t pull out of it.

  49. SeattleSlew on May 28th, 2013 3:34 pm

    A couple days ago Dodgers managers, Don Mattingly, held his $20 million dollar player, Matt Kemp, out of the line up. Kemp was annoyed to be held out of the game but Mattingly called it a pure baseball move, saying that Kemp has been struggling and a day off may help him clear his head.

    Notice he didn’t blame Kemp’s struggles on the media, or the fans, or people who haven’t played baseball since they were 9 yrs old.

    If the fans are getting into Ackley’s had then the fans (who don’t get payed) are doing Wedge’s job (getting into players head) better than Wedge.

  50. Snuffleupagus on May 28th, 2013 3:40 pm

    The only thing that confuses me about this post is why you don’t think you could do a better job than Wedge at managing a baseball team.

  51. DarkKnight1680 on May 28th, 2013 3:47 pm
  52. 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.

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

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

  54. 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”

  55. 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.

  56. 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.

  57. DarkKnight1680 on May 28th, 2013 4:34 pm
  58. 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:

  59. 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.

  60. 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.)

  61. 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… )

  62. 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?!

  63. 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?

  64. 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.

  65. 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.

  66. 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.

  67. 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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