Dustin Ackley Weekend In Review

The Mariners are off today, and while we could spend this time reflecting on how they just took a series from the Phillies to remain right in the thick of the race, most of us are probably thinking a little more about Dustin Ackley. Dustin Ackley is fresh, and Dustin Ackley was highly anticipated. He just had himself a hell of a set in his first-ever series, so I thought I'd take this chance to review what we saw from him over the three games. Hint: lots of good.

Discipline

Dustin Ackley saw nearly 50 pitches over 11 trips to the plate. He didn't swing at a single pitch more than a few inches off the edge, and yesterday took a tough 1-2 curve from Cole Hamels just low and a little outside. There were a few fastballs over the outer black he took for strikes, but that happens with every lefty. I did not see him get caught badly off balance. Ackley showed that he knows the strike zone, and that he can recognize different pitches.

Swing

Ackley has very quick wrists. We saw this in his first at bat against Roy Oswalt, when he was a little in front of a changeup. He kept his hands back and knocked the ball right up the middle. He also flipped a few fly balls into left-center field. They got too much air under them and hung up, but it's easy to imagine Ackley hitting a ton of liners over the shortstop's head. He has the swing to hit a lot of singles the other way.

But his power's to right and right-center. Ackley's wrists are so quick that when he gets his arms involved, he can get a lot of oomph behind the ball. His home run was a no-doubter off the bat. His triple was a rocket. He hit a scorcher to second, a scorcher to first, and at least one scorcher just foul. He can hit the ball harder than you'd expect of a guy with his build.

Ackley can and will drive the ball to right. A big difference between him and, say, Michael Saunders, though, is that Ackley's bat is also quick enough for him to stay back and line the ball to left. He's unlikely to hit much more than the occasional double the other way, but by proving he can hit outside pitches, he'll get more inside pitches, and those are pitches he can punish.

Bat Control

Ackley swung 21 times and didn't miss once. He's probably upset at himself that he didn't single on those fly balls he lifted the other way, but he hit two liners deep to right, he hit a hard shot up the middle, he hit a hard shot to first, he hit a hard shot to second, and he hit a hard shot to third. That's a lot of good contact for 11 plate appearances. Ackley is going to keep defenders busy, and it looks like he'll be able to fight off some tough pitches other hitters might miss. It's easy to see how he maintained such a high contact rate in Tacoma.

Speed

Ackley really only had one chance to show off his footspeed over the weekend, since he singled behind Justin Smoak. And he ripped a triple to right-center, which has historically been a tough thing for lefties to do in Safeco Field. Ackley motored around the bases and got into third easily, and while he'll never be confused for Peter Bourjos, speed is still one of his tools. He moves well. He should hit his triples, and he should reach double-digit steals.

Defense

Ackley collected seven putouts, 11 assists, and two double plays over the three-game series. The play we remember is the double play he turned on Friday with Carlos Ruiz bearing down on him all angry-like. Ackley didn't look like Brendan Ryan or anything, but he made a quick turn and showed off a very strong arm.

He didn't make any Web Gems. He also didn't screw anything up. Something about his form looks..."off", in that he doesn't look like a natural second baseman to my untrained and unprofessional eye, but he moved well, he read the ball quickly off the bat, and he snared a handful of short-hops that easily could've eaten him up. That could've been luck, but I try not to assume luck.

Overall

Short of collecting eight hits or something, I'm not sure Ackley could've realistically had a better debut weekend. He flashed all of his skills, he showed that he belonged during every at bat and play in the field, and with his single, home run, and triple, he provided some unforgettable and not-easily-forgettable moments in front of some huge home crowds.

We'll see how things keep up as Ackley gets a few more weeks under him, but he sure looks like he'll be making an immediate impact. He's so polished we can look at him and see our own faces, smiling back.

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