Asking The Audience: Dustin Ackley

Jeff Sullivan · June 27, 2013 at 5:40 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

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.


14 Responses to “Asking The Audience: Dustin Ackley”

  1. Dobbs on June 27th, 2013 6:11 pm

    Just to make sure, I’m voting on his OPS from today until season’s end… not the full season’s OPS.

    Is the thought that his decline is BABIP related?

  2. don52656 on June 27th, 2013 6:14 pm

    I sincerely believe Ackley will be a good major league hitter. I’m just not sure it will be with the Mariners, who are either really unlucky or doing something seriously wrong when it comes to developing young hitters. I’m not sure it is a coincidence that Ackley hit so well while he was not in Seattle, Triple A pitching or not….

  3. Sowulo on June 27th, 2013 7:03 pm

    I think he’s been a head case. He has the talent to overcome his psychology at lower levels but the pressure and extra requirement to be flexible and make adjustments quickly just may be beyond his psyche.

    At the top a player must be physically talented and mentally strong. I haven’t seen any evidence of the latter from him. Compared to Seager’s or Franklin’s demeanor and approach, Ackley has looked like a deer in headlights.

  4. heyoka on June 27th, 2013 7:15 pm

    Young deer has been hit by head lights and gone into the netherworld where he learned that he is no longer a deer, but rather an eagle.

  5. The Ancient Mariner on June 27th, 2013 7:27 pm

    heyoka, that sounds like a plot for a Miyazaki movie.

  6. MrZDevotee on June 27th, 2013 7:48 pm

    Wait, we’re making absolute statements about whether Ackley is mentally strong or not?



  7. Dobbs on June 27th, 2013 7:53 pm

    The deer in headlights suggestion is weak at best. Nobody saw anything wrong with his demeanor/approach his rookie year.

    It’s a sport, some will do well while others won’t, no matter how hard some try and work hard at it, it’ll never be enough to be a big league player.

  8. bookbook on June 27th, 2013 7:58 pm

    I voted .700 OPS even though my gut thinks .650. My twisted mind thinks he’s really not as good as .700 but will get some luck falling his way, if only to delude the M’s brass into thinking the rebuild is about to manifest in pennant-winning gooey goodness, so no need to address multiple years of flawed process/coaching.

    On a brighter note, Erasmo, Hultzen, Maurer, Walker, Paxton in Tacoma! How many teams can beat that?

  9. casey on June 27th, 2013 8:52 pm

    I voted .750. Ackley has be top 1% successful every where he has played – except for Wedge’s Mariners. Most recently . 360 batting average with 1000 OPS for a month in the highest professional league short of MLB. Curious about what Wedge and M’s coaching staff need to do to have this elite bat appear nightly in Seattle.

  10. Westside guy on June 27th, 2013 9:23 pm

    I really think Wedge is the problem with these young players. However you choose to parse his words, in the end he and his staff are the ones who are supposed to teach these kids how to succeed at the highest level. The repeated failures lead me to conclude whatever he’s teaching them is wrong.

    FWIW I voted 650.

  11. MrZDevotee on June 27th, 2013 9:56 pm


    In Tacoma tonight…

    6 innings, 2 H, 6 K, 1 BB… 0 Runs.

    He’s baaaaackkkk…

  12. Calculon on June 28th, 2013 8:14 am

    The “real” question might be: What OPS/WAR will he have to produce to avoid being traded by July or this offseason?

  13. djw on June 28th, 2013 9:13 am

    What OPS/WAR will he have to produce to avoid being traded by July or this offseason?

    Why on earth do you think they’ll be trading Ackley when his value is so low?

  14. Calculon on June 28th, 2013 12:21 pm

    “Why on earth do you think they’ll be trading Ackley when his value is so low?”

    Because they’re the Mariners?

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