Dustin Ackley’s Re Re Re Emergence in Seattle
Has Dustin Ackley finally found a home out in left field for the Seattle Mariners? If the second half of this season was any indication, the answer to that question is a tentative ‘yes.’
Drafted 2nd overall in the 2009 First Year MLB player draft, Dustin Ackley was considered one of the most pure hitters to hit the Minors in quite some time. He hit for average and played good defensive first base at the University of North Carolina.
But once he was signed the Mariners moved him to second base as he rose quickly through the minor league farm system.
In 2011, his rookie season, he played in 90 games and batted .273/.348/.517 and finished 6th of the Rookie of the Year voting.
But 2012 was nothing short of disastrous. In 153 games he batted a paltry .226/.294/.328 with 12 home runs and 50 RBI.
Finally in the second half of 2013 he started to turn it around, being one of only 9 players in the American League to bat over .300 post All-Star break.
2013 was so-so, but in 2014 with stability in left field Ackley posted some career numbers.
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In 143 games he batted .245/.293/.398 with career-high 14 home runs and 65 RBI. He was tied for 3rd on the Mariners with 14 home runs, 3rd in RBI with 65, tied for 2nd in doubles at 27 (with Kyle Seager and behind Robinson Cano), 4th in stolen bases (8), and 3rd in runs scored.
On any other team his offensive numbers wouldn’t stand out as anything spectacular, but he provided a second half spark for this team after another slow start to the season.
There are two big questions for Dustin Ackley over the course of the offseason. First, is he capable of maintaining a high level of play for an entire season? If he is, then he will have a long-term home in the Mariners outfield. Second, will he get the same amount of playing time next season? The Mariners have made it clear they are looking for a power outfield bat this offseason. Many of those types of players play left field, and could potentially relegate Ackley to a 4th outfielder role.
But Lloyd McClendon seems to see something in Ackley. Maybe 2015 will be the year he finally turns that corner?
And even if he doesn’t, he will at least have been more productive than Justin Smoak.