At one point, many people believed Dustin Ackley was the future of the Mariners. After Ackley’s 2012 campaign, only a rare breed of statistical curmudgeons still held that belief. I am one of those rare statistical curmudgeons.
Last year, Ackley suffered from a severe case of the Sophomore Slump. But I believe that in 2013, Ackley will prove to the world why he was once the number-two-overall-pick.
Ackley had a bone spur removed from his ankle this offseason. It had been bothering him
severely throughout all last season. He had the spur removed on the first day of the offseason. This could be reason to believe that the bone spur was more than a slight hindrance to Ackley’s game.
With that growth removed from his ankle, Ackley will have a clear mind/body in Spring Training. He’ll be prepared to focus on his game rather than his pain.
The fences coming in will help Ackley mentally, in addition to adding a few more homers to his totals. Based on his hit chart from 2012, Ackley would have hit three more homers had the new fences been in place, raising his total from 12 to 15.
15 looks a lot better than 12, doesn’t it?
Dustin’s BABIP in 2012 was .265. BABIP, essentially the stat of how lucky a player is, indicates Ackley was incredibly unlucky last year. If his BABIP was equivalent to his minor league BABIP of .310-.315, Ackley batting average would have been .252-.256. His OBP would have jumped to .340-.345. Compared to Ackley’s 2012 numbers, I would take those stats any day.
If you take Dustin’s Major League BABIP from 2011 and apply it to his 2012 season, Ackley would have hit about .275 and had an OBP of .344. Stats like that, in addition to his 2011 slugging percentage, would have put Ackley’s 2012 WAR at 5.3.
A 5.3 WAR is worth $24 million dollars. A 5.3 WAR would have made Ackley the 20th best hitter in Major League Baseball, and the 24th best player overall, including pitchers.
That is not bad. That is exactly what one would expect of a #2 Overall pick. Of course these hypothetical situations could be considered overly optimistic or horrendously outrageous, but I don’t think they are.
Ackley will have a breakout season in 2013. He will not be as unlucky as last year. He will hit more homers than last year. His ankle health–will be better–than last year. His mental approach in Safeco Field will be better than last year. He will have one more season of experience in the batters box and at second base and he’ll be playing with a chip on his shoulder.
Expect big things from Dustin Ackley in 2013.