Asking The Audience: Dustin Ackley
Dustin Ackley is back, in one sense. Not in the sense that “Dustin Ackley is back!” like we all hope we’re shouting a week from now. But Dustin Ackley is back on the Mariners, probably for good, and after sitting out a couple games it seems like he’s going to get started in actual action on Friday. He’s going to be an outfielder most of the time, and that matters, but what we care about most is the bat, since it’s the bat that’ll determine whether or not he’s a keeper. For Ackley and for the rest of Ackley’s career, this is going to be an important three months, as he simply has to show more than he showed before getting sent to Tacoma.
Now, some quick background. As a rookie, Ackley posted a .766 OPS. He went into that offseason feeling pretty good about himself, and in 2012, he posted a .622 OPS. That was a letdown. Remember that letdown? Remember when it was a surprise that Ackley was bad?
Coming into 2013, Ackley made some changes to his swing and his stance. They were revealed in spring training, and Ackley felt encouraged, as anyone does after making deliberate adjustments. He felt like something had to be worked on. Ackley’s spring was underwhelming, and he started the year 3-for-30 with three singles.
Then Ackley changed the changes to his swing and his stance. That decision was made during a day off, and Ackley felt encouraged, as anyone does after making deliberate adjustments. He suggested he felt the best he’d felt in a couple years. Between then and getting demoted, Ackley posted a .572 OPS. The second half of April was pretty solid; the month of May was a disaster from start to finish. It finished in the Pacific Coast League.
Now Ackley’s back again. This time, it wasn’t about mechanical changes — it was about mental changes, changes in approach. Eric Wedge wanted to see Ackley more ready to hit, and while Triple-A pitching isn’t major-league pitching, Triple-A pitching got abused much of the time Ackley stood in. Ackley claims he has his confidence back, and he just hit .365 at a high level with 19 walks and 14 strikeouts. Ackley didn’t chase in Tacoma. He wasn’t over-aggressive, he wasn’t too passive, and he made a lot of contact. He flashed some line drives to left and left-center. There are reasons to be encouraged, because Ackley is encouraged and the stats back it up.
So, a poll. I think I know how this is going to go, but I’d like to make sure. Maybe you guys will surprise me. Usually, you guys don’t surprise me, but I am very smart about not being surprised. This is a lie. I am shockingly easily startled, even by things I know are there. If anything it’s only getting worse.