Well we find ourselves in the thick of spring training and the Mariners have put on a good showing so far. There is just one problem with this situation; it does not mean anything. While it’s great to see a team start with a bang you cannot trust anything you see in spring training.
Let’s think back to last season when Dustin Ackley and Jason Bay had fantastic springs. How did that turn out for them during the regular season? Unfortunately, every Mariners fan remembers the forgettable performances.
This is why I’d like to warn everyone not to read into Ackley’s great numbers so far this spring. His current play is not a reason to be excited for what’s to come, however; I will say that we should all be on the lookout for a breakout season from Ackley.
We know his story. Drafted 2nd overall, flew through the minors, and produced a great rookie season. After that season we saw him fall off greatly. The hit machine everyone was excited about has not shown up the past few seasons.
Ackley did his best to fix his issues. He tried changing his batting stance last year only have another tough go around. He continued to struggle and this lead to the Mariners demoting him to Tacoma and it might have been the best thing for him.
When Ackley came back we saw the player that we had been hoping for since his rookie year. He was drawing walks and putting together good at bats while also hitting quite well. The question of whether that was legitimate improve will be answered this season.
We have seen Justin Smoak play this game before. We watch him struggle through a year but then he puts together a great September which makes us think there is a chance we could see that for a full season.
While both were rated as top prospects coming up, I think many would agree that it is more surprising when Ackley experienced trouble in the majors. He proved successful at every level including the major leagues.
This will be a big year for Ackley. It could be remembered as the year Ackley turned it back around and helped the Mariners be successful or it could be his last as a relevant player. He, much like Smoak, will be closely watched. If he proves himself again the team will have a great leadoff hitter to hit in front of Cano for a while.