RUNDOWN: Dustin Ackley's Reincarnation as Johnny Damon
The souurrrr science ... of M's prospecting


Throw Over, Picked Off Flatfooted:  Gordon, chomping on the stogie, gave us a memorable Bert Sugar minors report:  "Ackley is takin' battin' practice during games.  You gotta see dis.  He goes t'ru da box like nobody ya ever seen."

Dustin Ackley his ownself then said exactly the same thing after his (return) oh-fer.  "I feel night and day better!"


Runner Evades First Four Throws:  Gordon also warned us that Ackley's routes looked about like Rocky I, trying to catch the barnyard chicken with a Frankenstein stomp.

I figured maybe G was being a little bit cute, but then ... first game, first play, line single to center/leftcenter, and Ackley runs back, then sideways, then in, "surrounding" the ball like no such play I've ever quite seen.

First game, second play, line out to center ... Ackley comes IN, then hustles back and barely snags it over his head ...

Next play we heard about, Ackley blew up his hand diving for a ball in center.

It's a whale of a lot of fun to spectate.  It looks like a Seahawks vs Mariners softball game, with (say) Earl Thomas playing center field.  I flat enjoy watching it.


Ackley's first game at the plate, Dr. D felt sick to his stomach.

  • First pitch, 90ish MPH right down the middle ... takes, ball one.
  • Second pitch, 90ish MPH pretty hittable, good part of the plate... fouls it back as though it were 97.
  • First AB ends, popup foul, if I recall.
  • Second AB ends, popup foul, if I recall.  (If you just joined us, a popup caught in foul territory is FEEB.)
  • Third AB, strikeout caught looking, if I recall.
  • All swings, tried to YYYYYAAAaaannnkkkkkk the ball into the RF porch, if I recall, which I definitely do.


Dr. D Tries to Get Back to 1B:  To all of which we can confidently respond, "SSSSIIIIGGGGHHHhhhhhhhhh!"

The kid is super talented.  And if/when it clicks, he'll be the only player in the game with a Johnny Damon skill set.  And right now the OBJECTIVE indication is that it's about to click.  And if it does, the idea of two fast-ish LH batters, 1-2, at the top of the order, with gap power, sounds great to Dr. D.

Right now Dustin Ackley is reminding SSI of a Seahawk quarterback from yesteryear.  Remember Rick Mirer, the #2 overall draft pick?  Looked like an MVP standing still.  Dropped back like Montana.  Everything perfect, right up until the football came out of his hand.

We need to trade Ackley to Detroit.  So he can kick off his HOF march.

More seriously ... one time Bill James said of the young, wild Randy Johnson "I expect him to jell at some time.  Expecting that at any specific time, such as right now, would be foolish."





Just feels like Brandon Morrow again. We messed this kid up, and a reset is in order with a different organization. If I'm right, I just hope it's someone we can really use. He might be a difference maker for getting a prime veteran contributor for 2014 - the second or third player with the potential to be very good player that clinches a deal. Kinda like the Fister deal in reverse.


It's really just a question of asking him to use the 3-iron off the tee until he's in a groove at the AL level...
He came back up from Tacoma and swung the 445cc driver out of his shoes, right from the first AB ... and along with that you have his indecision in hunting which pitches he can catch with the 445cc...
Just take the 75% swing with the 3-iron, and line some balls the other way, and gradually take the club back a teeny bit more, and then a teeny bit more, and next thing you know ...


He too was the can't-miss #2 draftpick, college player of the year who won every award they could mint for him.
Alex in the minors: .321/.438/.578 in a thousand PAs.  Was sent down 2 straight years to work on stuff.
In almost 1500 major league ABs Alex did NOTHING noteworthy.  He had a brief jump to his career early but then was fading down into the .600s in OPS.  I was screaming to trade for him.  But they waited, and they moved him to the OF from a harder glove position, and they waited some more. 
And then he popped out some 6 and 7 WAR seasons for em.  This year he's struggling, so he's only on pace for 4 WAR.  Boo hoo, cry me a river. 
Ackley is riiiight about there.  In no universe do I use him as a throw-in that doesn't get me a juggernaut, because Ackley has 1100 major-league at-bats to his name now, and on the Alex-Gordon scale (assuming the thumb injury doesn't ruin his year...) he's got 250 more ABs to get this year which makes his breakout next May or so. 
Who wants to trade Ackley and have him turn into the .280/.380/.440 Robin Ventura clone I expect him to be?  In CF, of all places?  No thanks.
Honestly, I'm actually hoping that a hand injury will remind him to go the other way and stop taking the driver out of the bag, to use Doc's analogy.  Use the whole field, get hard walks and singles - doubles when they roll to the wall.
Ackley has a 1.15 eye in the minors and a .5 eye in the bigs.  That's not gonna continue.  As he smacks early fastballs and moves people off the plate, he can get his walks up and reverse the pressure from always swinging with 2 strikes on him to forcing some 3-ball counts.  I watched him do it in the minors, it's just a switch he has to flip. Any day now...
Just like I wanted Alex Gordon for cheap, I'm sure somebody wants Ackley for cheap.  I believed in Alex's ability to be a good piece, and I believe in Ackley's too.  We put in the work; don't let someone else reap the rewards. Not without proper compensation. If somebody wants to pay for the Robin Ventura version of Ackley, then we can talk.  If they want to pay for the Brendan Ryan version, then take a hike.


1. You are exactly right, Doc. I'm sure Ackley took 1st pitch steeeeeeeriiiiiiiikes, right down the middle of the zone, on each of this first three back-again AB's. I was disappointed, I think. You and I see Ackley in similar but slightly different ways. I see his batting bread and butter existing in the RF gap. You see it (I think) over in the LF gap. But either way, fast balls down Easy Street are pitches he should have got bullish on. Unless he's going to be Rod Carew, he's got to hurt those FB mistakes. Hurt them to the wall. Mirer is an interesting alert. I still like Ackley. But he has to "un-freeze" at the plate.
2. I was disappointed in placing him in CF. A mistake, I fear. Not because he's too unathletic for the position (certainly not the case) but that we should be making the transition a bit easier for him. Just let him be our LF for a while.


I completely agree on the Driver/3-Iron idea. Dead on. This is a guy who will succeed with frozen ropes, not moon shots. But my thought is that he's also too much of a passive other-way guy. I want to see him get way more aggressive. Maybe just trying to drive those first pitch fast balls the other way will do the trick.


But he also waited for his pitch. Selective aggression and mashing grounders back up the middle and line drives around the field, but taking walks when the pitches weren't close.
In the majors he's been leaning too far, swinging awkwardly, trying to pull (And rolling over on everything in the process), and been altoghether both too passive and paradoxically too anxious.
He would swing early in the count at gimme pitches in his most recent minor league tour.  THAT led to walks, not the patience of watching strike one and strike two.  So yeah, I'm with you moe: Crush a few "over the plate" strike-ones and see where that gets you.  Let 'er rip, Dustin.  Not at strike two.  At the first pitch in the zone. 


Let him hit at #6-7 and tell him to do it "his way" (another Sinatra ref). Wedge needs to stay patient rather than pounding him into the #3 hole or at leadoff. Tell him you need what he can do, but set him up for success. He's not as resilient as Seager - so what?! Stop creating expectations and let the guy do his thing - it obviously worked everyplace but Seattle under Wedge - WHY?


+1. It's evidently working for Smoak, too. Sticking those two in the heart of the order before they were ready may have really set them back.


It's why I'm starting to question if Wedge is the best guy for this club. The resilient guys can handle the jerking around, but the more "high-strung" guys seem to do better working up to it and being comfortable before more is asked. I think Ackley and Smoak can both be successful ball players (Montero as well), but need to be handled with a view to putting them in a position to be successful, rather than insisting that they "perform to expectations".
I wonder if a guy like Joe McEwing might be a better choice for a club of scrappy but talented dirt dogs. Much more positive and upbeat vibe. Wedge seems to think working people up to success is "molly-coddling", as if stars always burst into greatness like Trout.

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