Welp, now that the Mariner's regular season is over we can talk about the important things like managers (/pukes), the relief pitcher pile and who the Mariners should play regularly in 2014.
As the Mariners head into the offseason I hope they notice they have two second basemen on their roster and that it’s time to choose one. Those second basemen of course Dustin Ackley and Nick Franklin.
Just looking at both their performances on the field and what the numbers tell me. Nick Franklin is like a can of Dustin Ackley lite and Franklin's value comes as trade chip. So I vote keep Dustin Ackley, because I still have faith in Ackley despite his 2012 and 2013 struggles, and try to trade Nick Franklin.
Oh, and no, Dustin Ackley is not an outfielder. That experiment was nice, but proved Ackley should not be an outfielder. More on that later.
Ackley is smarter runner on the bases and appears to be faster. I don’t really have a way to measure speed. Nor do I care enough to go to Safeco and ask the two to have a foot race. I will however concede Franklin has managed to swipe 6 bags compared to Ackley’s 3 this season.
Ackley takes off better, rounds the corners better and just generally runs better than Franklin. This is illustrated in the numbers too.
- 2013 Ackley: 3.1 UBR
- 2013 Franklin: -0.8 UBR
Using UBR it paints Ackley as an almost great baserunner and Franklin as a just below average runner. As Billy Hamilton might prove tonight having good baserunners is huge plus for a team.
Nick Franklin isn’t an awful second baseman, but he’s no Dustin Ackley either and Ackley’s pretty good.
Let’s use UZR and runs saved to compare.
- 2011 Ackley – 5.1 UZR, 10 runs saved
- 2012 Ackley – 5.7 UZR, 11 runs saved
- 2013 Franklin - -6.0 UZR, 0 runs saved
These results place Franklin as the 30th worst defensive second baseman in the MLB this season. Franklin is behind the likes of Derek Dietrich, Dan Uggla and Dan Murphy - not exactly good company. Ackley however, with his 2011's 5.1 UZR would have been the seventh best, right behind the likes of Dustin Pedroia, Darwin Barney and Ben Zobrist. (…a lot of D names in that group.)
Ackley provides far more value to the Mariners when he is at second base. Sure, it is nice to have him as an emergency backup outfielder. Ackley tracks down balls well enough, but his arm strength is terrible. Just looking at his outfield UZR this season Ackley earned a -7.0 and cost the Mariners 8 runs. In the outfield Ackley is a liability, but at second base he provides the Mariners significant and measurable positive value.
Although it’s tempting to write off Ackley and say the Mariners should move on because of his abysmal 2012 season and first half of this season. There are a few things that keep me intrigued with Ackley.
K% and BB%
- 2013 Ackley: 16.8% K and 8.7% BB
- 2013 Franklin 27.2% K and 10% BB
Both Ackley and Franklin walk a decent amount. If you include minor league numbers Ackley has historically been more prone to taking a walk.
However, the concern with Franklin is his inability to not strike out. Over a fourth of the time Franklin has appeared at the plate this season he has struck out. Franklin’s 27.2 percent strikeout rate puts him in the bottom 20 players, minimum 350 PAs, this season. Franklin doesn’t make as much contact as Ackley does, too.
- 2013 Ackley – 85.8%
- 2013 Franklin – 75.1%
If you look at both of their slash lines it's almost impossible to say Franklin has been better than Ackley at the plate.
- 2013 Ackley .251/.317/.341
- 2013 Franklin .223/.301/.380
It’s easy to cite Franklin’s youth as the reason he is struggling. However, remember Ackley totally retooled his swing going into this season and in 2012 he had an oddly low BABIP.
Overall, I think Ackley has hit and will hit better than Franklin.
Going into next season the Mariners should best be served by moving Ackley back to second base and looking to trade Nick Franklin or sending him back down to Tacoma. Also, it’s worth noting, with Brad Miller’s success this season the shortstop role should be filled so sliding Franklin over won’t work either. Ackley in the outfield and Franklin at second costs the Mariners too many runs to justify keeping both players on the roster.
The Mariner’s starting second baseman in 2014 should be Dustin Ackley.
I'm curious as to what everyone else here thinks. I've attached a poll!
(PS This if my first fanpost after reading LL for about 3 years now. So tips on feature pieces would greatly be appreciated. Thanks everyone!)