Today’s Fun Fact: Dustin Ackley
I couldn’t figure out what to do with this, but I knew I wanted to do something with this, so this is what I’m doing with this. I made a chart and now you’re going to look at it.
When Dustin Ackley was demoted to Tacoma, it wasn’t about Ackley’s swing being completely off. It wasn’t that the Mariners were displeased by his ability. It was more about Ackley’s approach, with the team suggesting he wasn’t being aggressive enough, and with Ackley admitting sometimes he let himself get too passive. The Mariners, and Ackley, wanted him to get back to being “ready to hit,” whatever that means. It was a psychological thing, and that was Ackley’s mission in Triple-A. Instead of waiting around, Ackley had to adjust to get to going on the attack.
So here’s that chart I made. It shows Z-Swing% and O-Swing%, where the former is the rate of swings at pitches in the zone, and the latter is the rate of swings at pitches out of the zone. How has Ackley profiled since his recall? This is one way of looking at it. A chart of rolling 20-game averages:
Ackley since July 3:
- Z-Swing%: 62%
- O-Swing%: 25%
Ackley’s most recent 20 games when he was demoted:
- Z-Swing%: 46%
- O-Swing%: 21%
Ackley, over his entire career:
- Z-Swing%: 54%
- O-Swing%: 25%
There’s evidence to suggest Ackley is indeed a little more aggressive now than he used to be. But this isn’t unprecedented — his Z-Swing% has reached the 60s over stretches before. When he was initially extremely successful, his Z-Swing% hovered around the low 50s. What’s clear is that Ackley hasn’t completely changed his approach, nor was that the goal. This is just something to monitor going forward, as it follows that “being ready to hit” should show up in higher swing rates. Alternatively, it might be about swinging at the same pitches, but just being more ready for them, in which case all we can really do is examine the results. Since being recalled, Ackley’s hit .240 with a .613 OPS and zero home runs. Sometimes he’s looked real good, but Felix Hernandez has hit a grand slam.
So, yeah. Take this for whatever it’s worth. Those are Dustin Ackley’s swing rates over time. If you don’t think this was worth posting, don’t blame me. Blame my parents, without whom this post wouldn’t exist.