Dustin Ackley is my favorite player. I’ve always been a fan of pure hitters with sweet swings, and that’s what Ackley is. Or at least, what he was supposed to be.
After a solid rookie year in which he had a .348 OBP, .340 wOBA and 119 wRC+, he has been horrible this year at the plate. He has posted just a .299 OBP and 81 wRC+ in his sophomore season. 81 wRC+. That means he has been 29% worse at creating runs than the average player. Does that sound like a future star worthy of the #2 overall pick? To me it doesn’t.
So far in his MLB career, strikeouts have been a huge problem for Dustin. He has struck out 18.4% of the time this year, which despite what you may think, is less than his rookie year, when his K% was 21%. That’s not what you want to see from your leadoff hitter, or any hitter really. Strikeouts kill innings as quick as anything.
Ackley has been watching too many pitches go by. His swing% this year is 38.7%, about 8% less than average. That’s not to say we want him to swing at everything, but you would like to see him be a little more aggressive at the plate. His lack of swinging is what is causing the constant K’s, as his contact rate is 85.6%, about 4-5% higher than average. When the dude swings, he puts it in play.
Despite people frequently saying that he needs to close his stance and quit stepping in the bucket, his outsite-contact rate is at 74.4%, about 6% higher than average. The reason it seems like he misses outside pitches so much is because they throw so many too him. They have found out a weakness and will exploit it. His inside-contact rate is at 90.7% though, so closing up the stance may bring some pitches closer to him, and give him a better shot to hit it.
All that being said, what is Dustin Ackley’s future?
I think he will vastly improve, but to do so, something needs to change. I have noted changes in almost every other player’s stance/approach over the year, but not with Ackley. According to Seager, his stance has been the same since they were kids. Well, I think it’s time to change it. I don’t know how or what, but something isn’t working.
Ackley was pegged by most as a future perennial .300 hitter, and he certainly had, and still has the talent to do so. However, I’m not sure he will become that player anymore. I think he will get close to, and maybe even break .300 at some point, but it won’t be a yearly thing like I/we hoped for. I see him as a .280/.350, 13 HR guy on average, with a few spikes and drops here and there. Certainly not bad, and we would use that at the top of the lineup, but it’s not quite what you want from a #2 overall pick.