Hope for Dustin Ackley
To say that Dustin Ackley has been a disappointment this season would be an understatement. With a .205 average and .266 on-base percentage, Mariner fans are already calling for the head of General Manager Jack Zduriencik for taking Ackley #2 overall in the 2009 MLB draft. While there hasn’t been another hitter doing much of anything this side of Mike Trout in that draft, Ackley’s good start in 2010 caused M’s fans to get excited about the seemingly “sure thing” in the batter’s box. For Ackley and Seattle Mariners fans, the recent trip to the minor leagues was like hitting rock bottom. Yet it is possible that Ackley rediscovered something unrelated to his stance or swing that could save his young career.
Tacoma News-Tribune writer Todd Dybas interviewed Dustin Ackley about his trip to Tacoma and now return to the big leagues. There was something that absolutely stood out to me in reading the article.
“Mentally, I just felt great as far as getting up to the plate expecting to get a hit and feeling great in the box, in any count, ready to hit and I think that’s the biggest thing. When I was here before, it was kind of passive and take a pitch here, take a pitch there, not ready to hit and I think really that’s what separated me from now and before I got sent down.”
In April of 2012, I wrote a post about Kyle Seager being better than Dustin Ackley. Remember, in April of last year we didn’t know Seager WAS better. Ackley was coming off a solid rookie year and Seager was the lesser heralded of the youngsters. My premise was that Ackley didn’t swing at enough good pitches – he was too selective. Or as it turns out, he was thinking too much.
Dybas states at the end of his post that maybe Ackley can show an improvement similar to Alex Gordon of the Kansas City Royals (a once high pick who struggled early). And this comparison gives us hope for Ackley. Gordon swings at a similar rate to Seager on pitches in the strike zone (64.9%), yet he chases more pitches with a O-Swing rate of 29.9%. While Gordon clearly has more power than Ackley, he also doesn’t make as much contact with a contact percentage of 79.6% overall compared to Ackley’s 87.8%.
“I feel like I’m in a great position now, where I feel great in the box every time I step in there; I don’t feel like I’m an out anymore. I feel like I’m competing up there, where it was before wasn’t necessarily like that. I think I’m in a good spot right now.” – Ackley said to Dybas in the TNT story.
Now it’s time to see the results.