Seattle Mariners: Dustin Ackley To Platoon With Rickie Weeks


Maybe it was the negative press that Seattle Mariners General Manager Jack Zduriencik suffered through after the 2013 season.

The report that said he basically lied in his interview about knowing anything about sabermetrics. And to be fair, that’s obvious.

But now, all of a sudden, the Mariners seem to be adapting. Being open to the idea that replacing a single player at a position with a platoon of two individually lesser players may actually help you win more ballgames.

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Although the signing of Nelson Cruz this winter doesn’t scream sabermetrics, the trades for Justin Ruggiano and Seth Smith to replace Michael Saunders in right seem to.

And now, with players having reported to Peoria for Spring Training, we have skipper Lloyd McClendon saying that the recently acquired Rickie Weeks will most likely platoon with Dustin Ackley in left field. Thus giving the Mariners two right-handed bats in the corner OF spots against left-handed pitchers (Ruggiano and Weeks) and two left-handed bats in the corners against righties (Ackley and Smith).

Let’s take a look at what each of these platoons likely gets the Mariners.

In 2014, Michael Saunders, Endy Chavez, Stefen Romero, Chris Denorfia and Cole Gillespie all spent time in right field. Chavez and Saunders had the most plate appearances and combined for roughly a full season so I will use them as the primary example.

Saunders and Chavez combined to hit .274 with 10 HR and 57 RBI. Saunders had an OBP of .341 to Chavez’s .317. If Smith and Ruggiano split time based on righty vs lefty, using their 2014 stats, this is what it would have looked like.

.282 Avg., 15 HR, 61 RBI, .359 OBP for Smith, .333 OBP for Ruggiano.

Across the board, those are better numbers. Now, let’s take a look at an Ackley/Weeks platoon. We’ll use both players stats from 2014, but only Ackley’s vs righties and Weeks’ vs lefties. First, here is Ackley’s line from 2014: .245/.293, 14 HR, 65 RBI. Now if we look at the splits, we get this potential platoon total:

.258 Avg., 20 HR, 61 RBI, .310 OBP for Ackley, .361 OBP for Weeks.

Again, These numbers are better than just Ackley’s solo numbers. Weeks is actually a better hitter against righties, but his power numbers are higher against lefties and his average against lefties in 2014 was still about 40 points higher than that of Ackley.

So what do you think? Are the Mariners fully on board with the idea of platoons? Will we see a Brad Miller/Chris Taylor platoon and have Willie Bloomquist shown the door?

It’s really a small sample to size to go off of for both players but let’s take a look.

.245 Avg., 8 HR, 30 RBI, .307 OPB for Miller, .354 OBP for Taylor.

Compare that with Miller’s stats for 2014: .221/.288, 10 HR, 36 RBI, you see that the average and on-base percentage favor the platoon even if the homer numbers are down.

Are the Mariners trying to play Moneyball in 2015? It’s anyone’s guess. But it at least appears on paper, for now, that the Mariners are a much-improved ball club this season, and it has as much to do with these platoons as it does with Cruz.