This is the second installment of my goals series for the M’s core players.
(Jesus Montero’s can be viewed here).
Dustin Ackley was the Mariners first pick in the 2009 Ameteur Draft. He was expected to be a star in the Majors, but has not panned out as expected–yet. Although he is only 24 years old, this could be his last shot to prove he isn’t a bust–his career batting average to date is .243.
Dustin Ackley’s Goals:
1. Increase Walk Percentage to 10%.
In 2012, Ackley’s walk percentage was 8.8%. This is above league average, which means it is one of Ackley’s strengths. In 2013, I would like to see him walk 11 more times, thus increasing his total to 70 BB. Walking in 10% of plate appearances is incredible for a player in his third year in the league. Bill James actually projects Ackley to walk 10.5% of the time, so we’ll see.
2. Bat over .260.
Dustin Ackley did not have a good batting average in 2012. Although batting average is not a perfect stat, it would help Dustin to raise his considerably. Last year, Dustin’s average was .226. Horrendous. Even for the Mariners. If he bats .260, he’ll have close to 165 hits. If he bats .260 and increases his walk percentage, his OBP will rise above .335 or .340, which puts him in Bryce Harper/Asdrubal Cabrera range. Ideally Ackley eventually rises above .350.
An increase in his batting average should almost be expected, as Dustin was one of MLB’s most unlucky players last year, with a BABIP of .265. That number isn’t even close to his numbers from college, the minors, and even 2011. For reference, Ackley had the 21st lowest BABIP of players with at least 400 at-bats. A rebound is nearly guaranteed.
3. Add some muscle.
Ackley is pretty damn skinny. He’s 6’1″ and only 190 pounds–thick–for a regular person–but small for a Big Leaguer. If he puts on ten pounds like he did last season, and doesn’t battle nagging injuries like he did last year, Dustin should hit more doubles and homers. In addition, Ackley should see a small increase in homers due to the fences being moved in, as he only jacked two at home while smashing ten on the road. Produce 10 at home too, and you’ve got a second basemen who hits 20 homers. Not bad.
4. Continue to play great defense at second.
Dustin’s D at second has been tremendously underrated, as he posted an UZR of 6.7, which is well above league average. Dustin ranked eighth in UZR among second basemen. If he improves a little more, which should be expected as this is only his third year playing the position, Dustin could be in the running for a Gold Glove.
Dustin Ackley did not have a great 2012. That much is obvious. In 2013, the former second-overall pick will see much better days. He’ll have shorter fences, less bone spurs, more experience, and a little luck on his side.
For 2013, Bill James projects Dustin have a .249 batting average, and to improve in (nearly) every other statistical category. Ackley earned a WAR of 1.5 in 2012. If he accomplishes all of the goals above, we should see him creep up into the 4.5 WAR range for 2013.