By: Chris Dommermuth
There’s been plenty of buzz around former 2nd overall pick, Dustin Ackley, as a young must-have player. I wrote in my second base rankings, that I’m not as high on Ackley, in fact, I wouldn’t draft him, period. He has as much talent and potential as any second baseman, there are just too many factors that make me shy away from him on draft day.
My first reason is how weak the Mariners lineup is. Their team leader in RBI’s last season was Miguel Olivo, with 62. Their only “major” addition to the lineup, Jesus Montero, has 18 games at the major league level under his belt. Ichrio looked old last season, and is clearly on the decline of his career. There wont be any lineup protection for Ackley, and if he gets on base, who’s going to knock him in?
Something else working against Ackley, is the stadium he plays in. SafeCo Field is by far the most pitcher-friendly field in the American League. Many hitters have experience sub-par seasons while playing there. If you don’t believe me, look at Adrian Beltre’s stats before and after his contract with the Mariners. His average WAR (Wins Above Replacement) with the Mariners during his 5 seasons was 2.7. His WAR the year before his contract was 10.1 and the two seasons after were 6.1 in 2010, and 5.2 last season. Good luck Dustin Ackley.
How often has the next big thing ended up satesfying expectations? Does anyone remember the hype around Matt Weiters? How about Jayson Heyward? These “next big things” are never a sure thing. These guys are human, you don’t know how they’ll handle failure for the first time in their lives.
As I talked about in my rankings, Ackley’s numbers aren’t all that impressive. During his rookie year, last season, he hit .273 with 6 HR’s, 36 RBI’s, and stole 6 bases. Over a 162-game season, that ends up being 11 HR’s, 65 RBI’s, and 11 stolen bases. I understand he’s a young player and will improve, but just how much do people think he’s going to improve over one off season?
While in the minors, Ackley never hit more then 9 HR’s or stole more then 10 bases. He did hit .303 last season with AAA Tacoma, so I see potential in developing into a .300 hitter, but right now he doesn’t give a fantasy team anything more then decent stats in any category. There are players out there going much later in the draft that will put up as good, if not better statistics.
Speaking of the draft, Ackley, on average, is being drafted in the 12th round of most fantasy drafts. There’s much better value at second base then drafting Ackley in the 12th round. A guy who I think will have a bounce-back season, Aaron Hill, is going as low as the 20th round. Neil Walker is going in the 15th round, on average, and his stats are almost identical to Ackley’s 162-game average.
Ackley isn’t a sure thing and you shouldn’t buy into hype on draft day. Go by the numbers, not the potential. A guy who at best will have a .280/15/80/15 line should not be drafted as high as he’s going. Let other owners draft based on potential, you can laugh at him later in the season.