Tag Archives: dustin ackley

What Went Wrong With Dustin Ackley


Dustin Ackley was demoted by the Mariners after almost two months of offensive futility. While he hit enough in 2012 that his defense and baserunning still made him a worthwhile MLB player (though not the possible star that many suggested he could be, especially after his 90 games in 2011), his 2013 numbers were so bad that no amount of baserunning or defense could justify playing him, and there was no reason to keep him on the bench since he has options left and you could still consider him in the “development phase”. In this post, we will just look at the 2012 data, seeing which kind of pitches he is seeing, and where he is being pitched, and attempt to see what happened to Ackley and whether or not his problems are fixable.

Here are all the pitchers he has faced, labelled with results (Swinging strikes are overlaid on top intentionally on these graphs, with out and no out plays also showing up towards the top), via release points:

Dustin Ackley Opposing Release Points

Here are all the pitches he has seen so far via the spin and speed chart:

Dustin Ackley Spin and Speed

It seems like he was struggling with top notch velocity according to the graph, but really has just 4 whiffs on the 58 fastballs he saw over 95 MPH (and 92-95 MPH fastballs give similar results). He also swung and missed at just 5 of the 82 pitches he saw below 80 MPH, suggesting he was handling most curveballs (and knuckleballs) pretty well, or at least, he wasn’t swinging and missing at a ton. Swinging and missing wasn’t a problem for Ackley, as he did it just 4.5 % of the time, the lowest in his career and half of league average. The problem then, was either weak contact or batting average on balls in play luck (or a mixture of both).

Looking at Ackley’s spray chart (via Texas Leaguers), he made a lot of outs to 2nd, just like last year, rolling over on balls, and most of his hits seemed to come from up the middle or going the other way, with no real power at all (the only power he really had were on a couple of pulled balls).

Ackley spray chart

On pulled balls, Ackley has an OPS less than half of league average OPS (for left-handed batters). His BABIP on pulled balls is also over .100 lower than league average. It is hard to imagine that this is all luck, and when you adjust the BABIP, Ackley’s OBP and OPS is still well below league average on pulled balls. When you look at Ackley’s infield batted ball OPS and outfield batted ball OPS, it is still below league average, but he still has an OPS over 1.000 on balls hit to the outfield. Even if there is some batted ball luck going on there, it doesn’t explain all of it. Ackley has a higher percentage of balls staying in the infield than going out to the outfield, while league average is opposite (because of the nature of recorded batted ball data, if a hitter smokes a line drive right at the first baseman, it counts as staying in the infield, so there could still be some batted ball luck bias, but I don’t think there is a lot of evidence that Ackley has just been hitting a ton of line drives right at infielders). He just doesn’t seem to be hitting the ball very hard.

What does this say about the way pitchers are pitching him? Let’s look at his average locations:

Dustin Ackley Average Locations

Nothing too unusual here, though the average locations seem to be a little more outside than you usually see. His hits and runs scored are a little higher than most of the pitches, and it seems that he makes just general contact on high pitches as well. The swinging strikes is a little below the rest of the pitches, which is also normal.

There does seem to be a school of thought that Ackley had gotten too passive, that he wasn’t swinging at enough pitches (though, as the data suggests above, when he does swing, he is making a lot of contact but none of it very hard). This season, he was swinging at less pitches than average, both in the zone and out of the zone, and he was seeing more pitches in the zone than the average pitcher as well. Here are all pitches he swung at, along with the MLBAM tags:

Dustin Ackley Swing Chart

His take chart:Dustin Ackley Take Chart

He was just not pitched inside and up very much at all, and is getting a whole lot of pitches thrown outside to him, many of them far outside, some of them he is swinging at, but most of them not. This means that nearly anything he did try to pull turned into easy outs. Clearly though, the problem was not perceived bat speed, as he wasn’t jammed inside. The problem may have been approach though, as teams could throw it outside and he would still try to pull it, thought that is not what the splits say (in 2013 Ackley went 25.2 Pulled %, 54.3 Middle %, 20.5 Opposite %, versus league average 27.9 Pulled %, 54.8 Middle %, 17.4 Opposite %, meaning he was relatively balanced, pulling a little less than league average). Instead, it seems like he was taking a lot of inside pitches in the strike zone, only feeling comfortable (or seeing) swinging at pitches on the outside part of the plate. Ackley’s odd swing mechanics have been discussed quite a bit, and I don’t feel a need of show screenshots of his swing that regular viewers of the Mariners would already be familiar with anyway. Maybe it is approach and a mental thing, or maybe the Mariners will have to rebuild his swing mechanics. Their doesn’t seem to be an easy answer to fixing Ackley, but perhaps the best approach is to emphasize slap hitting abilities and teach him to reach for balls better (easier said than done), at least until pitchers start coming inside on him again. It just seems like it would be really difficult to hit the ball with authority when pitchers have no reason to come up and in. A chicken and egg/causation question is raised of course, as perhaps his passive approach lets pitchers throw on the outside part of the plate all day and Ackley never swings and causes them to throw the ball inside. Or alternatively, pitchers never come inside and Ackley never swings because when they throw the ball on the outside part of the plate and Ackley does swing, he just hits it weakly.


Re-Ranking the Mariners 40 Man Roster

Cincinnati Reds v New York Mets

So it is December, and the Winter Meetings have now passed. While the Mariners were rumored to be going after every hitter imaginable, the only player they got in the Winter Meetings was Jason Bay. Mauricio Robles was designated to make room for Bay and is currently in limbo while the Mariners 40 man roster is full. I find it unlikely that he will be claimed by anyone, meaning he could come back and stay in the Mariners system. Either way, this means that they got rid of the bottom 4 players in my rankings from August. They also lost (they designated him for assignment, and then lost him to the Cubs by free agency) Johermyn Chavez who I ranked at 21st, and they evidently wanted to change him into a pitcher. They also traded Trayvon Robinson (#19) for Robert Andino (more on him later). Kevin Millwood (#33) is unsigned, while they re-signed Hisashi Iwakuma (#34), Oliver Perez (#25) and tendered a contract (technically came to an undisclosed agreement) to Josh Kinney (#36), which I wasn’t sure they would do. They also added some players to the 40 man, which I will rank and address below.

Remember, this ranking is by my interpretation of each player’s value, considering contract/age/future/role etc. This is not a ranking of how good the players are (though pure talent obviously plays a huge role). You will notice that a lot of players dropped since August, and a lot of this has to do with the minor leaguers added to the 40 man being obviously more valuable than the ones they replaced.

1. Felix Hernandez. Extension seems unlikely now, but the organization has been clear that they are not going to trade him.

2. Erasmo Ramirez: Erasmo is basically a lock to make the Mariners’ 2013 rotation, and has a lot of team control. He looks like a mid-rotation type starter, and that has a lot of value, as long as he can stay healthy.

3. Kyle Seager: Notice that, other than an occasional Youkilis rumor, the Mariners haven’t been linked to a 3rd baseman. They seem to believe he can play at a good everyday level again, and I think so too.

4.Danny Hultzen: I put him behind Erasmo and Seager (which he was ahead of last time) because the above two are more known commodities. Hultzen just has to find the strike zone again, but he has a pretty high ceiling and if all goes well, he will be in the rotation sometime in 2013.

5. John Jaso: This is a high ranking for a guy without any real defensive value and big platoon splits. However, he is still cheap, and he was their best hitter in 2012.

6. Dustin Ackley: Obviously 2012 was an offensive disappointment, but there is too much team control, potential, and good defense to rate Ackley much lower.

Mariners 40 man roster

7. Michael Saunders: He has more value in center, but he isn’t excellent there. Saunders is not quite a “tweener” (meaning he doesn’t have the bat for the corner, but not the defense for center), but he really needs to hit again like he did in 2012.

8. Charlie Furbush: I still like Furbush better than Wilhelmsen, but the elbow injury did scare me a bit. I think you could rate Wilhelmsen higher than  Furbush, but left-handedness makes me lean toward Furbush.

9. Tom Wilhelmsen: I don’t put much value on the closer role, but Wilhelmsen had a very good 2012 season. He is a very key part of the bullpen.

10. Jesus Montero: I was criticized for ranking him so low last time, but I wasn’t a huge fan of Montero before the trade, and 2012 really showed nothing to make me change my mind. He has good power and is cheap with a lot of team control, but he lacks plate discipline, is a terrible defensive catcher, and will have to spent most of his time at DH. The moved in fences should help him, but it isn’t going to fix his flaws.

11. Brandon Maurer: Obviously injury is a concern, but Maurer’s first really healthy season was a big one and got him added to the 40 man roster. Sometime in 2013 may be unrealistic, but he is a guy who should be in the rotation very soon.

12. Stephen Pryor: The fastball alone gives him value, but his slider looked pretty good in the Majors as well. If he stays healthy, he could be a bullpen piece (or maybe even a trade piece) for years to come

13. Hisashi Iwakuma: A guy who continued to prove himself as the season wore on. The contract is very workable from a Mariner perspective, and we will see how real his home run problem is with moved in fences.

14. Carter Capps: Still have Pryor ranked higher, but Capps has the harder fastball and showed improved breaking pitches as the season went along.

15. Anthony Fernandez: At the very least, he should be a left-handed bullpen piece over the next few years. Pitched well in AA, may even get some AAA time in 2013. Probably at least another year from the Majors, maybe longer if he still looks like a starter.

16. Carlos Triunfel: I have basically talked myself into slotting him as a utility player for 2013. Still a lot of control, doubtful to hit, but perhaps still has some value.

17. Brendan Ryan: Being a free agent at the end of the year hurts his value a lot. However, the defensive wizard is the Mariners 2013 starter, and the market isn’t exactly saturated with shortstops. Depending on what Nick Franklin and Brad Miller do in 2013, he may be expendable, or it may be a good idea to extend him.

18. Julio Morban: I am not entirely sure how to rank Morban, who was added to the 40 man roster. He hasn’t played in AA yet, has been inconsistent as a hitter, and has had injury problems. I would like to see more, but as of now, I am not a huge fan (but obviously things that salary/control/potential makes him automatically rated pretty high).

19. Jason Vargas: New park dimensions will make this interesting and he is a free agent at the end of the year. I still think he should have been moved at the trade deadline, but it is possible that most teams are as cool on Vargas as I am. Unless some trade is on the horizon, he will start in the rotation again, but he could be a guy who is booted out if he struggles and some of the prospects are given a shot in the rotation.

20. Mike Carp: I’m sticking to my guns of Carp over Smoak, but Carp’s ceiling is certainly lower going forward and you have the injury history. There have been some trade rumors surrounding him, and he becomes very expendable if Smoak hits at all and Montero finally moves to first (which, as of now, the organization doesn’t want to do).

21. Franklin Gutierrez: Probably a starter going into the year, but 2013 is his last guaranteed year of his contract, and he has been inconsistent with the bat and hasn’t been able to stay healthy. He could be ranked even lower, but his defense makes him a starter.

22. Casper Wells: Cheap platoon player, with some decent base running/defensive skills. Unless the Mariners find some real outfield help, he is an important part of the 2013 Mariners.

23. Francisco Martinez: He is still too young for me to give up on him. You can see the tools and ability, he just has to hit and put it all together.

24. Blake Beavan: Obviously Beavan’s inability to miss bats is frustrating, and ideally, you don’t want him in the starting rotation. However, there is a good chance that he will start the year there and he is still cheap with a lot of team control.

25. Hector Noesi: Obviously if you thought that Noesi would be a starter for the Mariners, (I have advocated him being used in the bullpen from day 1) you are disappointed. However, his stuff is too good for him to not succeed out of the bullpen, and he still has a lot of team control.

26. Oliver Perez: Re-signed a 1 year 3 million dollar deal in the off-season, which I liked. Even if he repeats his 2012 success, the value is somewhat limited, with other good left-handed relievers owned by the Mariners and the fact that he will be a free agent again at the end of the season.

27. Shawn Kelley: Certainly a capable piece in the bullpen, coming off a good season. Health is important and the Mariners have a lot of good relievers. Trades may be in order to get some value from what seems like a surplus.

28. Justin Smoak: Honestly, who knows where to rank this guy? He got really hot at the end of the year, but having him as the starting 1st baseman going in to start the season would be a disappointment. Mark Reynolds signing with the Indians hurts, but there is still a couple of options out there.

29. Lucas Luetge: Another good lefty bullpen piece, Luetge was a good Rule 5 pickup. Now, the Mariners could actually send him to Tacoma if they wanted to, and that may be where he ends up, at least to start the year.

30. Josh Kinney: Ideally a low leverage type guy, Eric Wedge definitely loved him. His delivery and constant sliders makes him somewhat hard to watch, and he isn’t going to provide a ton of value, but he was tendered a contract and I agree with the decision.

31. Chance Ruffin: He pitched better as the season went along, and would have to flop massively not to pitch in the Majors in 2013 (even though there isn’t a lot of room for him).

32. Vinnie Catricala: New to the 40 man, no defensive value, moving from third would be basically the death kneel to his value, but staying there and playing really bad defensively won’t help either. He really has to hit in Tacoma this year.

33. Bobby Lafromboise: You can never have enough pitching, but Lafromboise is the 4th reliever on the list and the 3rd of which is basically a LOOGY. There is some value there, but I am not real sure that they needed to add him to the 40 man. Similar pitcher Brian Moran was not taken in the Rule 5.

34. Robert Andino: Andino has less team control than Trayvon Robinson did, and we now know Andino can’t really hit, while there is still some potential for Robinson. I am still not sold on Andino’s defense, and he is out of options.

35. Eric Thames: I think he most likely starts the year in Tacoma, especially if they add another outfielder along with Bay. The extra option does give him some flexibility, but I just think that his lack of speed/defense/plate discipline will prevent him from becoming a very useful big league player. The ceiling is platoon slugger.

36. D.J. Mitchell: The player on the 40 man from the Ichiro trade, Mitchell’s stuff is sub par, but he may develop into a swingman thanks to pitchability, and he has options and team control.

37. Yeorvis Medina: Medina is just caught in a place where there are too many relievers on the roster. He really needs to be impressive in Tacoma this year. He has a good fastball, he just needs to gain some polish and command.

38. Alex Liddi: He takes a huge drop since I have come to the conclusion that he is not a big league player. He has no real position and has yet to really impress with the bat. I can’t see any way that he makes the 25 man roster out of spring training.

39. Jason Bay: As I wrote in my article on him, I am just not sold that he will help much. Not a good defender or baserunner, you are expecting a guy in his mid 30s to hit like he did when he was 29 to really have any value.

40. Carlos Peguero: He isn’t worth a 40 man roster spot, I would have designated him for assignment already. You can find AAA sluggers that won’t hit in the big leagues without using a 40 man spot. Assuming they sign someone else to a big league deal, Peguero should be the guy that goes.

Iwakuma faces off against Darvish

Seattle Mariners v Toronto Blue Jays

On Friday night, former World Baseball Classic teammates Yu Darvish and Hisashi Iwakuma faced off against each other. Each of the two pitchers pitched in the professional baseball league in Japan for several years, before coming over to AL West teams this year. Of course, they came with massively different expectations and have some success along with some struggles. The Rangers are in a pennant race, and Darvish is a huge part of that. The Mariners are not, and Iwakuma is a free agent at the end of the year.

Yu Darvish started the game by destroying Dustin Ackley’s bat with a cutter on a ground-ball foul on the 3rd pitch of the game. Ackley would weakly ground-out to 2nd on what looked like another moving fastball. Darvish was really using that cutter against lefties and it had some impressive late dip at 91 MPH. He hung a slider to Michael Saunders and Saunders pulled it to the wall and nearly hit it out. At Safeco, it probably doesn’t make it to the warning track, but the Ballpark in Arlington is always interesting. Seager also hit a ball reasonably well to center on a straight 94 MPH fastball. When Darvish hung a slider to Jaso, all he was able to do was foul it off. Darvish then finished him off with a 92 MPH cutter (?) that broke into the dirt. Montero swung through two straight fastballs with really slow swings and would ground-out on another one. Frankly, I was surprised that Darvish threw him fastballs. He was throwing mainly fastballs/cutters, but he has good breaking pitches and Montero struggles with right-handed breaking pitches. Yu’s quality breaking pitches were on full display against Mike Carp, when Darvish got him to swing through a curveball, and then a cutter down low and away for a strikeout.

Peguero looked really bad against Darvish, but hit a grounder to 3rd baseman Michael Young, who took forever to get to it, giving Peguero a chance to beat it out. Fellow Japanese native Munenori Kawasaki was jammed by one of Darvish’s worst cutters of the night and got Peguero thrown out on a goofy play. That Kawasaki was unable to do more with that pitch shows just how terrible he is with the bat. Ackley had some of the worst swings of the night against Darvish. Saunders had a good at-bat against him that lasted 12 pitches and ended in a walk. He never looked good in the at-bat, but was able to foul off some good pitches to eventually watch 4 balls. Just when it looked like Darvish was struggling and couldn’t put away Mariner hitters, he broke off a 68 MPH curveball to John Jaso for a big strikeout. Montero would give the Mariners their first run on a fly-out to centerfield.

Darvish racked up his 200th strikeout of the season against, who else, Carlos Peguero in the top of the 5th. He then took care of Trayvon Robinson with a low 93 MPH fastball for called strike 3 (after throwing a 67 MPH slow curve earlier in the at-bat, that is good speed differential). Darvish threw a 62 MPH curve to Kawasaki and then blew a 94 MPH fastball right to end the inning in a 3 strikeout fashion. Ackley worked a walk to start off the 6th, but Eric Wedge tried to waste the runner by getting Saunders to bunt. He fouled if off backwards and went on to later pop out weakly to center on what looked kind of like a cutter (but really wasn’t a very good one). Seager weakly waved at a slow curve (66 MPH) to strikeout and Jaso grounded out to end the inning.

I don’t think anyone saw the slow curve as much and had more problems with it than Mike Carp, who was just absolutely outmatched. Peguero saw it with 2 strikes as well, and swung and missed despite it being buried in the dirt. Darvish had a great outing against the Mariners (1.38 FIP and 2.65 xFIP), getting both grounders and strikeouts and limiting walks.

Hisashi Iwakuma started the game per usual, sitting at just 88-89 MPH as you wait for him to build up his velocity. I was interested to see how well he would do since his biggest problem is allowing the long ball and the Ballpark in Arlington is clearly a place where homers are prevalent and the Rangers lineup is a very powerful one. Sure enough, Ian Kinsler pulled a slider just foul almost for a homer. The next pitch was an 88 MPH fastball driven by Kinsler to left center and out of the park. I have no idea why Iwakuma starts with his velocity so low. Some pitchers do and some don’t, but there is a big difference between the 92-93 MPH fastball we have seen from Iwakuma as a starter and the consistent 88-89 MPH he showed off in Spring Training that got him kicked out of the rotation in the first place. If I am the Mariners coaching staff, I am trying to figure out why this is the case.

Iwakuma was really hanging his slider early on and it was inconsistent in both velocity and location. However, he threw some really good 85 MPH sliders in the first inning, one to Elvis Andrus for a swing and a miss strikeout, and another to Josh Hamilton for a very weak ground-ball. He ended the inning with another good one as well, an 86 MPH slider away from Adrian Beltre for a fly-out. He got up to 90 MPH on a couple moving fastballs in the first inning. To start the 2nd inning, Iwakuma’s velocity was still not back. He threw 88 MPH fastballs with a little bit of tail to Michael Young, but was still able to get ahead only to not be able to put him away with breaking pitches. He somewhat jammed Young, but it was still hit in the air to center for a base hit. One wonders whether or not Young would have been able to do it if the pitch was 92 MPH instead of 89. He started doing a better job of keeping the moving fastball low and was sitting at 90 MPH for a couple of batters. He got what should have been a double play, but Kyle Seager made a sloppy play and bad throw that Carp couldn’t pick it. He finally got up to 91 MPH in the next at-bat, and got out of the inning despite hanging a breaking pitch.

In his 2nd chance against Kinsler, Iwakuma was much better, throwing better breaking pitches and getting him to chase out of the zone on a full count to strike him out. I was a little surprised by how many hanging sliders Iwakuma got away with. He throws a lot of hanging sliders and usually gets away with them, I was just a little surprised by how many he got away with against the Rangers. He didn’t get away with an 89 MPH fastball to Josh Hamilton, as Hisashi threw it in, on the inside part of the plate, but it didn’t matter, and it was hit way out of the park.

Hisashi’s 4th inning looked very promising, as he got two pretty quick outs with sliders, then threw a solid one to David Murphy, only to watch the ball get hit by Ackley and Peguero look completely inept at fielding and throwing in the ball leaving Murphy at 2nd. He used the moving fastball (90 MPH) to get the final out on a fly-ball to right field. Iwakuma made Hamilton look pretty bad in the at-bat after the homer, getting him to chase some hard sliders out of the zone for a strikeout. Similar to how I expected Yu to approach Montero, there isn’t much of a reason for Hisashi to throw Hamilton any fastballs.

Iwakuma got ahead of Young with 0-2 in the bottom of the 6th with a runner on, but went on to walk him, ending his outing. Overall, Iwakuma didn’t have a great start, with a 7.03 FIP and 4.65 xFIP. He gave up the 2 homers, and struck out just 4 but only walked the last hitter he faced. He didn’t get the grounders that he needs to get if isn’t going to strike anyone out.

As you can see, Darvish had superior velocity all night and better speed differential thanks to the slow curve:


It is interesting to compare the two pitchers. While Darvish has a better selection of pitches and what we would call better “stuff”, the movement charts aren’t totally different.

While Darvish clearly throws harder, one could make the case that Iwakuma gets similar or even better horizontal movement.

Ranking the Players on the Mariners 40 Man Roster


With September quickly approaching, many teams (especially losing teams) will want to bring up young players when rosters expand to 40. However, for one to be brought up, they have to be placed on the 40 man roster. So here I rank the players on the Mariners 40 man roster from 1-40. With the off-season coming upon us as well, this list could be used as an consultant. Perhaps one could look at this list as “who should we DFA first?” (with the 40th being the player that should be DFA’d first). With the Mariners in the positon they are currently in (i.e. last), guys that are not under contract next year are heavily penalized.

1. Felix Hernandez: No need to add much to this.

2. Danny Hultzen: Perhaps a little aggressive for a player that has never played in the Majors and has a 4.02 SIERA in the PCL, but he was the top pick for the Mariners in 2011.

3. Dustin Ackley: Tough offensive year, but there is potential in the bat, great glove, and team control

4. John Jaso: Team’s best hitter and under team control. I believe he starts arbitration this off-season.

5. Charlie Furbush: Putting roles aside (especially the “closer” role), Furbush has been better than Wilhelmsen this year. Great left-handed bullpen piece with a lot of team control left.

6. Tom Wilhelmsen: He is really good and has a lot of team control left.

7. Erasmo Ramirez: My opinion on Erasmo has been really changed this year. He should be in the rotation right now. Will be a Mariner for a long time (barring a trade).

8. Kyle Seager: That Seager is this high really reflects on the Mariners more than Seager. He isn’t a bad player, but he isn’t really good either. Lots of team control.

9. Jesus Montero: Wasn’t a big fan of him before the trade, even less so now. However, there are way too many years of control and there was way too much currency (in terms of players) paid for Montero to not give him every opportunity possible.

10. Brendan Ryan: I am higher than Ryan than almost everyone else. He is the best defensive shortstop in baseball. He will be a free agent after 2013, the Mariners should extend him.

11. Casper Wells: I have always liked Casper, but this ranking has more to do with the Mariners (.4 O-WAR according to Baseball Reference in 69 games this year) than Wells.

12. Jason Vargas: I am guessing that they extend him or trade. He will be a free agent after the 2013 season.

13. Stephen Pryor: Hard throwing reliever with at least 5 more years of control. There is always value in that.

14. Michael Saunders: Really resurrected his career, but is still basically average.

15. Carter Capps: Another hard throwing reliever that hits 100 MPH. His breaking ball is not as good as Pryor’s, which is why he is rated lower.

16. Blake Beavan: Back of the rotation starter with some team control.

17. Francisco Martinez: Taken a big step back this year, but tools and potential in the bat. The key part in the Doug Fister deal, hopefully will be tearing up the PCL sometime next year.

18. Mike Carp: He is your first baseman right now, and is serviceable and cheap.

19. Trayvon Robinson: I’m still a believer. Way too early to give up now.

20. Eric Thames: Not a big fan, but a lot of years of control still left.

21. Johermyn Chavez: Still just 23. Put up about league average numbers in AA this year so far with an improved walk rate. Tools are a plus but he struggled with some injuries this year.

22.Justin Smoak: As bad as he is and has been, he still isn’t arbitration eligible until after the 2013 season.

23. Hector Noesi: A right-handed reliever that throws pretty hard and is under team control for several more years.

24. Alex Liddi: Basically a replacement player. Lack of other options is the only reason he isn’t lower.

25. Oliver Perez: What a story. He is my highest rated guy out of players that will be free agents after this season. Why? He throws 95 and is left-handed. I am curious to see how this plays out and whether the Mariners will try to re-sign him.

26. Franklin Gutierrez: When healthy, he is a pretty good player. Just can’t stay healthy. Still on the DL.

27. Lucas Luetge: Lot of team control and has been pretty good this year. Is expendable though and is redundant in a bullpen with Perez and Furbush.

28. Shawn Kelley: I am curious to see what they do with him this off-season with arbitration looming. Serviceable reliever, but this is the Mariners strong point.

29. Chance Ruffin: If I didn’t still believe in him, he would be much lower.Really disappointing season in Tacoma.

30. Carlos Triunfel: He will play in the big leagues some day, but his upside is utility player. Have not liked what I’ve seen in Tacoma at all.

31. D.J. Mitchell: Probably a future reliever, although he has been solid since coming in the Ichiro deal. Still like Farquhar (who isn’t on the 40 man but I imagine will be next year) better.

32. Yeorvis Medina: Having a decent season in Jackson after a slow start. Possible trade bait in the off-season.

33. Kevin Millwood: Been pitching really nice for the Mariners this year but his contract is up at the end of the year. Still have no idea why he wasn’t traded.

34. Hisashi Iwakuma: Currently holding a rotation spot, would be shocked if he still was in September. Free agent after the year is over.

35. Carlos Peguero: He has proven that he is not a big league player. If there was a manual on what constitutes a AAAA player, Peguero would be on the cover.

36. Josh Kinney: A pleasant surprise as a minor league free agent, he still doesn’t provide much value for the team down the stretch as a reliever who won’t be under contract next year.

37. Mauricio Robles: Still young at 23, but he has a 6.18 FIP and 5.75 SIERA over the last two years, mostly at AA. He started the year at Tacoma but couldn’t throw strikes and was sent down.

38. Miguel Olivo: Won’t be a Mariner next year. The only reason I wouldn’t release him now is that the catcher situation gets somewhat complicated, especially if you want to play Jaso and Montero at the same time (if you end up having to bring up Guillermo Quiroz and put him on the 40 man roster, then you have accomplished nothing).

39. Munenori Kawasaki: He won’t be under contract next year, and is pretty bad at baseball.

40. Chone Figgins: Perhaps one could say that nothing should be added here as well. While he is owed over 10 million dollars in guaranteed money, keeping a terrible player on the roster doesn’t help you either.

Jonathan Sanchez throws batting practice to the Mariners

Kansas City Royals v Houston Astros

Jason Vargas had another pretty bad start with a 8.90 FIP as trade rumors continue to swirl around him. He won’t be worth much, because most teams realize that he is a product of his ballpark and he isn’t really cheap either (we pegged him on this site as making a little bit more than he is actually worth prior to the season). Fans that believe that the Mariners will get a really good prospect for Vargas will most likely be disappointed. None of this mattered on Monday night though, as the Mariners won 9-4 against the Royals. The usually offensive challenged team was able to do this because Jonathan Sanchez was pitching like it was coach-pitched pony league.

It started off well for the Mariners as Sanchez threw 3 pitches way out of the strike zone to Ackley, pumped one down the middle and then walked him on a pitch way outside:

He would then give up a homer to Casper Wells:

Casper Wells hit a double off him in the next inning:

Miguel Olivo would ground-out, but he got a great pitch to hit as well.

Jesus Montero got a single on one down the middle:

Even Brendan Ryan got in on the action:

Brendan Ryan would foul a ball off his knee, then get a hit. He would leave after that with a left knee cap contusion.

The Royals would end up having to use the starter they scheduled for Tuesday Everett Teaford as a reliever. This means they have to come up with a new starter tomorrow.

Someone has clearly broke Jonathan Sanchez. His velocity has been dropping for quite some time now:

If you prefer numbers, he was averaging 91.6 MPH on his fastball in 2009 and this year he has been averaging 89.1 MPH. Something is clearly wrong, and it isn’t the Mariners problem. The GM of the Royals made what looked like at the time a fair trade. It has turned into a farce. That isn’t the Mariners problem either. In fact, it has clearly worked out to the Mariners benefit. They don’t care that he is throwing his changeup far more than he has ever before, in fact, they are happy to be beneficiaries. If every pitcher throws like this:

Casper Wells will be a Hall of Famer.

The King is Alive


On a Saturday night where the Mariners roughed up Yu Darvish behind big Kyle Seager, John Jaso, and Dustin Ackley hits, the King was on full display. He threw a complete game shutout on a night where he actually got run support, as the Mariners won 7-0, sending the 3 game series into a tie with the rubber-game to be played on Sunday.

The Rangers are 1st in the American League in OBP and 2nd in SLG. They didn’t have a runner in scoring position until the 7th. He was sitting at about 92-93 (hitting 94 MPH on a whiff to Adrian Beltre) MPH on his fastball and getting whiff after whiff on it. He made Rangers’ slugger Josh Hamilton look like Justin Smoak.

He threw one 91 MPH changeup to Nelson Cruz that was the velocity of a league average fastball and broke like a splitter or a curveball. He followed that by getting ahead of David Murphy with fastballs and then throwing that changeup in the dirt. David Murphy is a left handed hitter who hits right handers really well, walking as much as he strikes out with a .876 OPS. None of that mattered.

In the 6th, he made young Ranger Leonys Martin look especially bad. Martin thought it would be a good idea to swing at this pitch:

He got this result:

Or if you prefer this view:

He later got Cruz to whiff at a changeup in the dirt again for a Cruz’ 3rd strikeout and Felix’s 10th strikeout. Felix didn’t stop after the 7th, getting Michael Young to whiff at 2 pitches to strikeout. He then blew away David Murphy with a 94 MPH fastball to get his 12th strikeout. The 8th wasn’t the end of Felix’s day either, as he came out to pitch the 9th and got 2 pop ups, then shattered Elvis Andrus’ bat, kissed his wrists, pointed to the crowd, and high fived his teammates.

Overall, Felix gave up just 3 hits, striking out 12 and walking 0. Officially, he averaged 92.53 MPH on his fastball, maxing out at 94.1 MPH. His change averaged 90.05 MPH and turned into 7 whiffs (or over 43% of the time he threw it). He lived in the strikezone:

and there wasn’t anything the Rangers could do about it.

Mariners Trade Rumors July 14

Brendan Ryan could be an Atlanta Brave soon

Brendan Ryan could be an Atlanta Brave soon

The Mariner that is most likely to be dealt in the next few weeks, maybe even days is SS Brandan Ryan. The Braves are rumored to be very interested given Ryan is only making $1.75M and is one of the best defenders in the MLB. – Olney

Justin Upton rumors have swirled each offseason the past few years. Now they are heating up during the July trade deadline. The Mariners are expected to be interested but may be one of four teams on Upton’s no-trade list. Also, any chance of Upton wanting to remain with the Mariners longterm seems slim. – Geoff Baker

The Mariners are said to have made Felix Hernandez, Dustin Ackley, Kyle Seager, Taijuan Walker, Danny Hultzen, James Paxton and Nick Franklin untouchable. – Ken Rosenthal

Jason Vargas, Kevin Millwood, Brandon League, Miguel Olivo and the previously mentioned Brendan Ryan should all generate interest from other clubs.


David Pauley has returned to the Mariners. Pauley was a piece in the Doug Fister trade with Detroit. In 145 innings with Seattle, Pauley has a 3.35 ERA.

Mariners 30th round selection, Mike Yastrzemski was offered a $300k signing bonus, per Peter Gammons. Yastrzemski chose to return to Vanderbilt to complete his degree. Of course, he is the son of Hall of Famer Carl Yastrzemski.


Should the Mariners demote Dustin Ackley?


A recent Hardball Talk article asked whether or not Dustin Ackley and Justin Smoak should be demoted to AAA. I have written extensively about Smoak here before, so I will spend most of the time in this post talking about Ackley.

Smoak has been terrible, and I don’t think there is much hope for Smoak being good. My suggestion all along has been to use Mike Carp at 1st base, but that is not an option currently as he is on the DL. The AAA options of Scott Savastano (who just isn’t very good at baseball) and Luis Jimenez (who is a good hitter, but can’t play the field, a pure DH type) are not helpful, so I don’t even know who would take Smoak’s roster spot. The other options at 1st could be Dustin Ackley (who has been used some at 1st but may be worthy of a demotion according to the article), John Jaso (I like this option the best, he isn’t a real catcher anyway), or Jesus Montero (who hasn’t exactly been tearing the cover off the ball lately either).

A good roster would not have Justin Smoak getting constant at-bats. However, the Mariners do not have a good roster, so they might be stuck with him at 1st for a while.

On to Dustin Ackley. According to Fangraphs’ WAR, Ackley is the 5th best position players on the Mariners, behind Seager, Ichiro, Ryan, and Saunders. According to Baseball Reference’s WAR, Ackley is tied for the 2nd best position player on the team with Seager (BR has Ryan as the Mariners best position player, and it is not close). According to Fangraphs’ WAR, Ackley is the 16th best 2nd baseman in baseball this year, meaning he is league average. He is a league average 2nd baseman making about league minimum salary. That is a good deal. He has already been worth more defensively than last year according to UZR.It is only when you look at his slash line do you see any problems at .240/.319/.332. That isn’t good. Ackley isn’t having good results at the plate. What does it mean though?

His walk rate and strikeout rate is exactly the same as it was last year. His line drive rate is basically the same but he is hitting a bit more grounders. This year, he has a .876 Expected OPS on balls off bat. This compares to the .894 Expected OPS on balls off bat last year. His total expected OPS this year is .702. This is pretty similar to his Expected OPS last year of .716. Either one of those would make him the 12th best hitter out of qualified 2nd baseman. He has better speed scores than 4 of those 11 2nd baseman above him, and is a better fielder than 7 of them.

Is he being pitched any differently? It doesn’t look like it. He saw fastballs 59.8% of the time last year. This year he has seen fastballs 59.9% of the time. They have actually been slightly worse fastballs as well, as last year the average fastball he saw was 92.3 MPH. This year it is 91.8 MPH. Here are the pitches he took last year:

Here are the pitches he has taken this year (via Texasleaguers.com):

Do you see a difference? It appears that Ackley is taking less pitches on the inside part of the plate. There are two things that this may mean: 1. He is swinging at these pitches or 2. He is not seeing pitches on the inside part of the plate anymore. So here are the pitches he swings at:

The first thing you notice is that Ackley is a pretty disciplined hitter, which the walk rate also tells you. For fun, here is Yuni Betancourt’s, an impatient former Mariner, swing chart:

From Ackley’s chart, it does appear he is being pitched inside slightly less, although not drastically so. So he may just be swinging at inside pitches more. If he is doing this and not being successful, we would expect a lot more weak ground-outs to 1st and 2nd base. According to Baseball Reference, there has been a big disparity on balls he pulled last year versus balls he has pulled this year. Last year, he had a 1.109 OPS on balls he pulled. This year, it is just .727. With that said, he isn’t really pulling the ball more. 17.35% of his plate appearances this year have resulted in pulled balls, while last year it was 17.02 %. Perhaps his spray charts will give us a better idea:

It appears that there is already a greater cluster of ground-outs to 1st and 2nd this year than last year. He doesn’t seem to be getting the deep hits to right and right center like last year. However, there is one encouraging sign. He is showing more power the other way than he was last year.

Baseball is a game of adjustments. Ackley is making some adjustments as opponents are adjusting to him, but he needs to make more. That is what separates the good players from others. Whether Ackley becomes a really good player will depend not on his ability, but whether or not he makes these adjustments. With his fielding value, base running value, and the absolute lack of options in the organization (Triunfel stinks, Franklin and Romero are not ready, and Luis Rodriguez is certainly not an improvement), the idea of demoting Ackley is asinine.

Copyright © 2015. Powered by WordPress & Romangie Theme.