I have absolutely loved seeing Dustin Ackley this weekend. It’s not very often that I tune in on a Sunday afternoon to watch a game. I spend almost every day of the week watch and/or taking in a baseball game. But, Sunday (especially Father’s day) I try to set it aside of a few different reasons. Those simply being God, family and sanity. Perfectly good reasons in my opinion. Today, while I didn’t watch all of the game, I kept a close enough eye to the game to know when Ackley was coming to bat. I haven’t been this way since Justin Smoak arrived on scene and before that it was as far back as Jose Cruz Jr.
Even though Ackley’s been great and stolen the heart of nearly every Seattle Mariner fan (I say nearly because there is always one person who just can’t be please, whoever you are you have incredibly high standards). But, there is someone else I want to mention that has so far impressed me.
Greg Halman has started to show me signs that he may be more than a fourth outfielder. Is it because of all those hits? Nope, I’m quiet aware of his BABIP being .556. Generally he runs a high BABIP, but I think it’s been an insane week and a half and it’s bound to drop significantly.
Is it because everything he hits the ball hard in most of his at bats? No, his LD% is only 15%. and while he generally runs a high FB/HR ratio it’s because he hits a lot of ground balls. What about those strike outs? He must being striking out or swinging-and-missing less, right? No, while he’s improved on both strike outs and swings-and-misses with big league pitching he still isn’t near where we want/need him to be.
So what exactly has me impressed thus far with Halman? The curve ball, he has regularly been able to handle the curve ball this year. This stuck out to me Saturday when he took a curve ball in a 1-1 count on Saturday on the lower part of the zone. It was a close to pitch and it being a 3-1 game Halman waited for his pitch and ended up working a walk. It was a small thing but it stood out to me.
A few days prior in the at bat in which he hit his first major league home run he was down 0-2 in the count and Rich Thompson threw a curve ball low and away. It was a solid pitch and one that Thompson has used to strike out many hitters before but Halman fouled it off. Then layed off the high cutter and hammered the mistake down the middle.Impressive at bat for a young guy off the bench.
He even hit a Justin Verlander curve for a line drive to center for a base hit during the series in Detroit, despite being in a 2-2 count. All in all if there was a real weakness to become worried about it is his inability to lay off the high fastball. Major league pitchers are using it to strike him out consistently. I think this is why he is seeing so many fastballs opposed to a healthy diet of bendy things.
Halman hasn’t been horrible in the field and he has hit with regularity since arriving back with the major league team. At this point in time despite his strike outs I think he’s a better option than Peguero going forward. Eric Wedge seems to like him as he’s played him with regularity in the past two series even if it was to serve as a late innings defensive replacement.
While I readily admit that it makes me nervous see him hit fifth, his power potential and speed on the bases make could make for a lights out combo. But most of us all knew that. Despite the strike outs Halman has an premier impact bat and if he could just put even a small part of it together we are looking at yet another core member of this Mariner team going forward.
Now, that’s a huge jump for 30 plate appearances. It’s an extremely small sample size and it could quickly turn in the opposite direction just as fast. But the signs are so far good and it’s fun seeing another young hitter come up and do well.
He’s going to have a drop in production that’s inevitable and he’s going to have to prove he can walk more than once every 30 PA’s but I believe in the progress he’s made so far and I think it’s something shine a light on and watch over the coming weeks.